Nostalgic escape from life’s battles
MY TEENAGE years were, for the most part, pretty terrible. You know, just like most people's teenage years.
Like many others, I used entertainment media as a kind of escape. I spent weekends watching The Crow and Donnie Darko. I spent lunchtimes reading classic novels that were probably quite boring but made me feel smart. And, of course, I played games.
Playing games made me happy and interested and got my brain going. I have nothing but fond memories of those games, and where they're available I go back to them relatively frequently.
Mostly, they're games from the original PlayStation - or PC games from around the same time - as that console generation was my first foray into games that were designed for teens and adults rather than children.
The original Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy VII, and Silent Hill are some of those games (although I've gotten wussier as I've gotten older and now struggle with Silent Hill).
But for a few years I had a problem. The PlayStation 2 was backwards compatible, which meant I could play my PS1 games on it quite happily. When my PS2 bit the dust, however, I was bereft.
Fortunately, it's now easier than ever to play many of those old games that I loved. Now that handheld devices are in the pockets of everybody, many game companies are quite happy to port their games on to those platforms for people to play.
I just started playing Chrono Trigger for the first time on iOS, and it's not only a really good game, but it looks surprisingly good and costs a fraction of what it would have cost me to buy a copy on Trade Me.
There's also a trend of porting old games on to other handhelds - Nintendo's back catalogue on the 3DS is huge, and includes many of their classics.
Another favourite of mine, Final Fantasy X, has been remastered and released on the PS3 and Vita.
Unfortunately the availability of old games has also altered my expectations. When I look up Dark Cloud or Legend of Dragoon, I'm frustrated when I can't find a copy.
I might be able to use an emulator, but that's not my preference. I actually want to give people money for these games I adored and want to experience again.
I'm much happier these days, but my troubled teenage years - and how I dealt with them - really informed a long-term love of gaming, media and storytelling, and helped me through a bad patch so I could become a functioning human being.
Whatever you personally feel about video games, I think that's pretty great.