How I Unlocked My Power Through Video Games
If you’re someone who enjoys playing video games, but feels like they are negatively affecting your personal development, in this video I’ll talk about how they not only saved my life, but also provided me with the models and archetypes that I used to transform from a weak, pathetic loser into the man that I am today and how they continue to play a massively positive role in a life that is highly productive.
Let ‘s begin!
My very first introduction to videogames was around 6 years old, my friend Tas had a nintendo in his basement and it was there that I was introduced to games like Super Mario 1, 2 and 3, Contra, and my favorite by far, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Back then, everyone watched Ninja Turtles, and everyone had a favorite turtle, I realize now that, a “favorite turtle” actually says a lot about the ideals that young children aspire to.
Raphael is brave, fearless, resourceful, the alpha. Michelangelo is funny, social, and the center of attention, the joker. Donatello is mathematical, philosophical, and calculating, the thinker. And Leonardo, my favorite turtle, is loyal, brave, and responsible, the leader.
Playing the video game allowed me to step into Leo’s shoes in a way that went beyond what I was able to simulate with friends and action figures, in the video game, I had the wise Master Splinter and beautiful April O’neil cheering me on as I defeated evil characters like Bebop and Rocksteady on the path to defeating the “greatest evil” that was Shredder.
Getting a taste for these things at such a young age and in such a visceral way made the dream of one day being able to embody the “ideal” that was Leonardo, so much more real.
Fast forward a bit to when I was 13 years old and puberty hit me really hard, my face was so covered in acne and I was so ugly that nobody wanted to be my friend, at home, I had a father who was both physically and emotionally abusive, and so I found myself trapped in what seemed like a never-ending cycle of overwhelming anxiety, fear, and depression, and after enduring this for a few years, I started seriously looking for an escape.
And then, like a gift from God, an older neighbor of mine who was going away to college and wanted to get rid of some stuff, gifted me a game called Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo, and with that, I was given another path to the escape that I so desperately craved. I was suddenly immersed into a world where I gained incredible friendships with a diverse group of individuals as we worked towards a shared goal, and for the first time in my life, I felt purpose, I was meant to save the future, which I now believe to be the absolute highest human calling, I’ll explain.
Early on in Chrono Trigger, the party learns that thousands of years into the future, the earth will be turned into a virtual wasteland because of the inevitable arrival of an inter-planetary parasite named Lavos, this fate has no immediate bearing on their lives, saving the future won’t affect them here in the present.
So why do it? Why risk their lives, incurring unbelievable physical and emotional hardships in the process – to protect a future disaster that is thousands of years away?
Here I am all of these years later, and with each passing year, I more and more understand my own purpose as being to fight to protect a future that I will never live to see. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Chrono Trigger for me was the light in a life that was otherwise mostly darkness, I got each of the games 13 possible endings and despite all of the pain and sadness I was experiencing in my “real life” it was because of these games that I remember the years that followed as some of my happiest.
Next came Final Fantasy 7 for playstation 1, my favorite RPG of all time. Cloud, the game’s main character suffers from a case of mistaken identity, he believes himself to be a legendary soldier and then midway through the game comes to realize that the legendary soldier he believed himself to be, was actually someone else, someone that Cloud, a failed soldier, looked up to and idolized, yet the belief that he was this legendary soldier allowed him to accomplish incredible things. How?
In the book “psycho-cybernetics”, Maxwell Maltz states that
“our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one and you will automatically change the other.”
How often do we prioritize the creation or changing of our own habits, without consideration towards our self-image?
In my experience, to develop the habit of meditation, I had to actually see myself as someone who meditates, instead of seeing myself as someone trying to meditate.
Later on in Final Fantasy 7, in what is considered to be one of the most famous events in all of gaming history, one of the main characters, Aeris, with whom I was deeply in love with, is murdered, permanently.
I remember crying for about an hour and getting progressively angrier as it became clear that Aeris wasn’t coming back. Cloud’s journey to save the world, and by extension my journey to save the world, was now a matter of revenge.
Is revenge a “bad” motivation, if the outcome is good?
These are deeply profound questions to consider, that tell us a lot about who we are and what we’re motivated by. And by the way, no, I don’t think that revenge is necessarily a bad motivation.
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I played all of these games on a 10”, portable TV that my parents let me have when they no longer needed it. Every week when we went to go visit family, I’d bring the TV with me along with my gaming system, then when we got to our destination, usually my aunt or grandma’s house, I’d find a corner somewhere with a power outlet, and I’d sit there and play on the ground.
My parents saw this as anti-social behavior, which admittedly, it was, but why is anti-social behavior always considered negative?
With each successive game, I came to understand more and more what it is to actually be a hero, the hero never starts out strong, they start out weak, foolish, lacking confidence in their abilities. Weakness as it turns out isn’t a “bad” thing, it’s merely a starting point.
Initially, when faced with adversity, the hero fails, time and time again, but every time they pick themselves up and through persistence, hard work, discipline and motivated by a purpose far greater than themselves, they’re able to transcend the weak pathetic thing that they are, to become legendary. This is the same exact path that I’ve followed to transcend the weak, foolish, depressed little boy that I once was, into the man I am today.
It’s one thing to hear these things as I’m describing them to you, it’s something else entirely to experience these things, and video games have the potential to simulate this experience in ways that no other medium can.
Shortly after Final Fantasy 7 came Xenogears – a game that drew huge inspiration from famous psycho-analysts like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose beliefs now form the foundation of my own personal philosophy.
The game’s main character, Fei Fong-Wong, has memories from his childhood which he has repressed because of the pain they represent, this repressed pain ends up manifesting into a “separate” personality with Fei, named “Id”, one of the game’s strongest enemies!
The idea for this was all rooted in what Carl Jung termed “the Shadow self”, according to Jung, the Shadow, also known as the “Id”, is the dark side of our personality, it is everything that we repress or deny about ourselves, our collective unconscious. Jung believed that through a process he called “Shadow Integration”, that we could bring this shadow side of ourselves into our consciousness, and in doing so, that we could discover an immense hidden power within us, our true potential.
In the exact same way that Fei, through Shadow Integration, was able to defeat Id, and realize that potential in himself, at the age of 26, when I hit the lowest point in my life and was forced into my own process of Shadow Integration, where I brought years of repressed pain into my consciousness, it was there that I gained the ability to channel that pain into power that I have previously thought was impossible.
Anyway guys, when I was a young kid playing these games, I obviously didn’t understand the deeper significance of these themes, but with the passing of time, I learn more and more how much these themes nested themselves into every part of who I am and who I continue to aspire to be.
I’ve often heard that we are the average of the people we spend the most time with, well for me that was Leonardo, Chrono, Cloud, Aeris, and Fei Fong Wong, and that’s a pretty solid fucking group if you ask me.
These days, I still play video games, usually in the mornings while I train on my bike, or towards the middle of the day, where I find video games to be the perfect way for me to take breaks from work while still nurturing my own personal development. More recently I’ve really enjoyed games like The Witcher 3, Persona 5: Royal, and Detroit: Become Human.
My general suggestion here is that if you’re looking to continue playing video games while maintaining high productivity, to stay away any game that doesn’t have a rich story and interesting characters.
I made an entire video about the negative aspects of videogames vs personal development.
This is the path.
Good luck, and I’ll see you in the next video.