Gaming has always been a part of my life. When I was little, my parents would have a family game night at least once a week. At my grandma’s house my brother, cousins, and I would play the Game of Life and Hungry, Hungry Hippo as we waited for the grown-ups to get done talking.

The only video games I was exposed for a good portion of my childhood where the educational ones. And though I had a blast with them, they didn’t compare to what my friends were playing. They would share their discoveries with me at recess on how to capture Pokemon, or how to get a bow in Zelda, or some other video game that they had. They were fantastical worlds that I didn’t understand. That is until halfway through middle school when for Christmas I got the first video game that I could officially call my own. It was Pokemon FireRed on a Game Boy Advance SP. It was magical, and started my love for handheld video games.

Soon board games and video games became my gateway to forming relationships of all types. Of helping me gain courage when I felt down and lost. They have shared stories that I think could never have worked as well in another format. They became an inspiration for me to return to one of my passions as a potential career when my dream career got crushed by reality. Drawing and crafting fan-work inspired by my gaming experience has brought a lot of joy into my life.

Gaming has always been with me, and has helped me more than I honestly imagined before writing this up. If I shared all the stories of how gaming has improved my life, this post would go on way too long. It would be more like a book. I hope to one day give back to this, one of my favorite hobbies. To hopefully help bring a little more brightness into people’s lives when the world feels so dark. Cause that is what gaming has brought me, and I want to share it.

-Jessi Olney
United States

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