A lot of us will sometimes make the not-so-wise decision to overindulge in a video game that has caught our interest. When I was younger, I frequently got in trouble for playing 10-hour marathons of video games in the summer when school was out. As I got older and matured, I started exercising self-discipline when I purchased and played new games. These days, I even use video games to motivate me to do work that I would otherwise never get around to :).
So since it’s Thanksgiving and all, I just wanted to reflect on some games that have “been there for me” when I was going through hard times in my life. Some I used like described above–as motivators to do work–and others really picked me up emotionally when I was down on my luck or when I was lonely after moving to a new place.
While this game was likely my least favorite main title in the Zelda series, it was my motivator and realm of peace while I was preparing for my candidacy exam in graduate school (known to be a dream destroyer for many young graduate students). I purchased it thinking that I would set it aside until I passed my exam, but I ended up opening it one day when I was so upset and stressed out that I just couldn’t work. Swinging my sword around and seeing Link in general really cheered me up. After that, I wrote the rest of my proposal in 1.5 hour intervals with breaks to play this game ^_^.
Ah, Lumines. If there is one game that I repeatedly go back to when I am feeling lonely, it’s this one.
Between high school and college, I left my hometown to go do an internship in another state. It was the first time I had moved out of state and been on my own in life, and I felt incredibly lonely. Because I was doing an internship, there wasn’t an orientation to introduce me to peers my age that you get at college, and most of my coworkers were significantly older than me.
My brother had lent me his PSP with Lumines because he never used it, so I turned it on one rainy day as I hung out in my room and switched it to the “Lights” by Nobuchika Eri (since it was JPop-y) stage. I fell in love with the song and the game instantly. Ever since then, Lumines has been this quiet little supporter that I turn to whenever I feel lonely or homesick. I play it when I go on business trips, when I move to new places, when I stay up late and the world is absolutely silent… It reminds me of that rainy summer that I spent missing my friends, and the following autumn where I met many new ones!
When I picked up my Vita, the new Lumines was a no brainer. I picked it up as a digital download so that I’d have it with me at all times, and my endless stage of choice is 4 AM by Kaskade. Lights will always be my favorite, though :).
In a similar manner, Kingdom Hearts is one of my go-to games when I’m feeling down and need an instant pick-me-up. I cannot play this game without smiling and feeling full of warm, happy feelings. I’m not sure if it’s all the Disney, if it’s Sora’s cheesy smiles, or what it is, but five minutes into a Kingdom Hearts session and I will be cheerful again.
I often turn to Kingdom Hearts after crying, or after playing scarier games like Resident Evil (lol). It’s become such a thing that even my friends will ask me if playing with Sora would make me feel better when I’m upset. More often than not, it does.
Persona 4 Golden
I had completely missed out on the Persona series back in the PS2 days. Back then, I was unconvinced that there could be any other JRPGs as good as Final Fantasy, so I never gave it a shot. Thankfully, Atlus decided to re-release this game on the Vita, and it’s now easily one of the best JRPG experiences I’ve ever had.
I had initially picked up Persona 4 Golden as part of my beginner set for the Vita when I had just gotten the console (alongside Katamari and Lumines). I tried playing it, but the battle system was so difficult for me that I dropped it in the first few hours. I didn’t realize until the next time I gave it another shot that it was a non-traditional JRPG in the sense that social links (the dating sim aspect) was as important as grinding levels in a dungeon.
Towards the beginning of 2015, I was down on my luck. I don’t really want to go into the details, but I was deeply hurt by people around me and felt supported by no one. My trust in people was hanging by a thread.
If you guys have played Persona 4, you probably already understand why it was the perfect game at the right time with this context. The main themes of the game are about accepting the parts of yourself that are flawed and about making meaningful bonds with these characters that you never want to let go of. I essentially entered a fantasy world that filled that hole in my heart until time could repair the damage. I still hold these characters incredibly near and dear to my heart for what they did for me back then.
What about you guys? Any games that you’re particularly thankful for?