For most of my childhood I was not in control of the games I played–that privilege went to my older brother. In the 90’s, sans Internet, unless you had a gaming magazine such as Nintendo Power, or Game Informer, there was no way of knowing what games were coming out, or even how good they were. So, those decisions I left to my brother, and I got my gaming experiences from him. It wasn’t until around the sixth generation of gaming that he was starting to lose interest in the hobby. If I was going to be playing anything at all, I had to step up, so I made the bold move to start doing research on gaming and all of its genres. I ended up buying my very first console that was completely my own, the PlayStation 2. Although I had a passing interest in video games and media in general, little did I know that the purchase of this console, and this single game would change the way I viewed my entire life, and give birth to a new passion.
In 2002, on my 13th Birthday I received Final Fantasy X as one of my only gifts, and honestly the only one I needed. From the moment I entered the world of Spira, I knew that this was something special. Video games to me at the time were nothing more than an entertaining piece of hardware, a bunch of cleverly placed 1’s and 0’s to pass the time on my weekends. But what I found during the course of that 120-hour playthrough was that gaming was something more than that. The story had captivated me, and I was no longer just playing a game to beat up the bad guy, or to obtain a high score. I was embarking on an emotional journey along with these characters, a journey that I wanted to actively participate in. I found myself caring that Tidus was trapped in this strange land with no way home and I started hating Jecht for the way he treated his son. I began to feel concerned about Yuna saving the world by summoning the final Aeon to defeat Sin. The game became more than a game: it was an emotional roller coaster and I loved every second of it.
It was then I realized that something was different about the way I perceived things. No longer was a movie a movie, or a book a book. Everything was a test on how well I could invest myself into the media being presented to me and was immediately compared to Final Fantasy X. Suddenly, I understood why I loved to watch classic movies I had been watching for years. It was as if a dim light had finally became bright in my mind and then, everything had become so much clearer. I had this passion for story telling that I had never known existed and it needed to be explored. I didn’t care about playing outside, or the fact I was missing that same rerun of Dexter’s Laboratory on TV. All that mattered was creating these worlds and populating them with interesting heroes, or menacing villains in order to reach out and touch people the same way I had been touched. To think, some random person from millions of miles of away lived their life and through their experiences put together a tale that opened my eyes to an entire art form–that is truly incredible and worth devoting yourself to.
Now that I have several short stories and a novel under my belt, I have only one thing in the world to thank: Final Fantasy X. Sure, other games have come along and shown me more about storytelling and writing, but it was this game that sparked my passion and interest — so much so that I’ve even had talks of starting my own web series discussing storytelling in gaming. For the longest time, I was just drifting through my life with no real purpose, or passions — I even allowed my brother to dictate the things I was allowed to play and not play for most of my life. But reality finally hit and I came to realize what my purpose was on this planet was, and it was all because of Final Fantasy X.