In response to "The Infected" from the Escapist Forum: Writing about personal loss for sympathy is kinda shoddy journalism...which is why I'm glad that's not what this is at all. =)
There was this whole talk at TED about how games can save the world; how this entire civilization before the Greeks managed to survive through this ludicrous famine by distracting themselves with a dice game made from small bones. How even today, we play games to show we can solve problems no matter how big. Sure, I think we can all agree it's escapism in a way, but if people feel better about it, who's to argue?
And yeah, it seems obvious you've been through a lot more than most of us have. I know I'd be really reluctant to write about something so personal.
My mother was involved in a car accident when i was around six. A man ran a red light and hit her and my sister whilst they were on their way to swimming training. My sister walked away from the crash. My mother wound up in a hospice with a tube in her throat to help her breath, unable to speak, unable to move. I can think of no greater horror then being stuck in my own body, day and night, unable to speak my mind or even drink a glass of water.
When my father told me, i was too young to understand. As he tried to cope with his daughter and wife in hospital, i was sent to a lot of friend's places to stay, to give him time to deal with what had occurred. It was at this time that the teenage son of my dad's friend showed me Commander Keen on his PC.
I was hooked. Day in and out i played that game. Then i finally had to go home, when my dad managed to sort himself out. Somehow someone got me a Nintendo. Again, day in and day out, i played and played, games like Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda.
When i managed to get my first Playstation was when i started to help my dad out more around the house. He taught me to cook simple meals for him, myself and my sister when i was eleven, as well as wash his clothes and keep the house relatively clean. All the while, my Playstation was there, with Lara Croft and Crash Bandicoot keeping me company when he was working late, which was more often then not.
As soon as someone thrust a controller into my hand, i was away from the world. My endless chores melted into nothing, video-games lending me worlds of fantasy and wonder where i could decide fate. Where i could decide who lived or died. Where i could escape from the un-ignorable truth - that my mother was never coming home.
I still remember one day, when i innocently asked when mum was coming home. My father yelled that she was never coming home, and that i will have to get used to it. I believe that was when Duke Nukem 3D first came out. I used to play on my dad's PC for hours. It used to drive him nuts.
Eventually he got me my own PC, some shitty hand-me-down - and then i could play whenever i wanted. I even began to write stories on it. Soon my escapism evolved into two categories - writing and gaming.
Was gaming cathartic? Perhaps. Did it help me deal with my problems? Not really. Did it help me forget my troubles, even if they were subconscious, even if it was only for an hour or two?