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I am 28, my wife is extremely pregnant, and I just started a new Phlebotomist job, but I am still very behind on all of my bills. Needless to say, I have not been feeling like a ray of sunshine these days. However, one small encounter managed to change my disposition.
It was work as usual in the lab, entering patient data and drawing their blood. I was just trying to move people through as quickly as possible so I didn’t have to pretend to be in a good mood all the time.
One woman completely caught my attention, though. I was entering her information into our lab ordering system, and by protocol I had to verify her name and birthday. She was 62 years old, extremely overweight, and definitely didn't fit my profile of anyone who would even use electronics besides watching TV. While we made small talk, she started telling me about how she was obsessed with a new computer game that she had been playing. At first she couldn't remember the name of it, but I still found it mildly amusing that she liked to pass the time by playing on the computer.
It started to agitate her though that she couldn't remember the name of the game. As she fumbled through her thoughts out loud, I would have bet anyone $100 that I would soon hear the name FarmVille come out of her mouth. The next couple of sentences, though, brought a ridiculous smile to my face, and a real sense of joy and satisfaction.
She remembered that it wasn't a computer game, but that it was for the Xbox. Feeling more impressed, I still expected her to name a smaller XBLA title that her grandchild downloaded. She started to mutter something under her breath and then a light bulb went off and she said excitedly, "Skyrim!". I looked at her with amazement in my face and said, "You play Skyrim?”
"Oh yeah, I love that game,” she said. “I was having some real trouble with a dragon this morning, but I got him!”
Immediately, both of our spirits picked up as we engaged in deep, gloriously nerdy conversation. We talked about both of our characters, what weapons/magic we liked to use, what kind of armor we preferred, and the different tactics we’ve used to defeat our enemies. We carried on about all the different things that you can do in the game, not worrying that there were other people in the room listening. After she left, the other lab tech that was orienting me said that it was the happiest and most vibrant that she had ever seen that woman. I also felt like a spark lit up in me. It sounds really cheesy, but I got so much satisfaction from being able to share my gaming experiences with her that it seemed to improve my whole day.
I think it’s because it helped to solidify my belief that it doesn’t matter how old you are, or whether or not you play on a regular basis. Video games can be a great outlet for anyone who is willing to enjoy them. We need not be encumbered by the stigma that someone who plays video games must be immature and/or adolescent. At age 62, this woman played a video game for the first time in her life, and that game just so happened to be what I would consider one of the greatest games ever made.
Her love of fantasy, story, and a willingness to learn something new is helping her through some difficult times in her life, and helped to brighten both of our days. As a gamer, I feel great pride in knowing that the industry and pastime that I love can and is being enjoyed by more generations than my own, and that it can bring two unlikely people together in some friendly, nerdy conversation.