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Video Games as Therapy?

It might seem like an odd notion, especially to those 'concerned' parents out there, but not all video games are bad. (Or evil, as some put it.) I'm here in defense of the games.

Simply put, video games aren't bad. They aren't evil. They're not responsible for the downfall of society. (That would be cell phones.)

If your kid plays one of the GTA games, then goes out and does something horrible, it's not the game's fault. It's your fault for not being more responsible. There are ratings on the games for a reason, you know. And I've seen the clerks at video games stores (in Georgia, at least) try quite hard to let parents know when they're buying a Mature rated game for the ten year old standing next to them. It's not the games' fault that parents don't seem to care anymore.

And to the parents who do care, good for you.

So what was the point of this little rant? Well, I'm defending video games because I believe that they helped me sane. (Quit snickering.) The video games in particular that I'm referring to are RPGs--the Final Fantasy series to be more specific.

In January 2001, my father died from cancer. (Skin cancer. Wear sunscreen.) I was 19, a sophomore in college. I was away from home during a very difficult part of my life. The only immediate comfort I had was my roommate and a Nintendo 64. In the semester before, she'd showed me the joys of the Zelda games, and they'd been a welcome distraction. We beat Majora's Mask the day after my dad died. And I found I needed something else.

An online friend pointed out another RPG series. She did it by showing me a picture of the back view of a someone who I thought was a woman at the time.

All right, raise your hand if you didn't think Kuja was a girl at first. Be honest.

No, she said, it was a guy. Kuja, the villain from Final Fantasy IX. I'd heard of the FF games before, but never really been exposed to them. But I was curious.

Some people, in times of great sadness, turn to many things. Some to drugs, to alcohol, to sex, to crime, to religion... I turned to a little Playstation and a copy of FFIX. (And the rom of FFVI on my computer.) And I was instantly hooked.

Months later, as the summer neared, people would remark how well I was handling my father's death. And I realized that I was. I feel that I have the FF games to thank for this. While I do become attached to the villains, that's normal behavior for me. There is something else in the series that has kept me with it.

Some people have complained that the series, no matter how dark it gets, remains cheesily hopeful and optimistic. I think that's part of the draw. The hope. When my own world was seeming to fall apart around me, I drew a sense of hope from the games. The hope that, no matter how bad things may get, in the end things will get better.

All right. That was cheesy. But it was honest. Hug your playstation, if you've been neglecting to do so.