How Fallout 3 Saved my Life
Jett discusses how Fallout 3 helped him emerge from a depression instigated by an alcoholic father and incessant bullying at school.
I entered my sophomore year of high school coming out of the aftermath of four years’ worth of bullying that I was thankful I survived. Those four years had been the most painful years of my education - and my life so far - and I felt that sophomore year would give me an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and be a more positive person. About a month into the semester, I learned that I wasn’t going to get that opportunity.
I started to get bullied again by the students who had followed me through the years and hadn’t yet grown out of the habit of picking on me, my parents put our house for sale for fear of foreclosing, and my dad began nursing an increasingly serious drinking habit and an unhealthy fascination with the Biblical end times that eventually got so bad I would skip meals and stay locked up in my room to avoid him and his ranting. Between bullies, school, my parents, and their palpable disappointment in me that I wasn’t “saved”, I fell into a crushing depression in which I felt hopelessly worthless and that there was no hope for the future, exacerbated by my dad’s comments of how bleak the future did in fact look. I became quiet, lethargic, and withdrawn, both at school and in my own home, my friends began to worry about me, and a rift had opened up between me and my parents. I began experiencing the beginnings of suicidal thoughts.
So it’s ironic that the game that saved me from this depression was Fallout 3, a game that pretty much screams that the future doesn’t look too good.
I had gotten Fallout 3 over the summer but hadn’t played it yet, so one day I popped it into my PS3 and found myself totally immersed in the experience. I felt the joy of every victory, the sting of every tragedy, the thrill of every escapade, and the camaraderie between myself, the characters, and my companions (you know who you are, Fawkes and Dogmeat). Every day, I would wake up early before school just to play a little of it, then immediately delve into the game as soon as I got home. For months, Fallout 3 was my virtual escape from my gloomy mindset and I was more than glad to partake in it. I even made a few friends over a shared love for the game and was able to buy the Game of the Year Edition off one of them, furthering my time with the game for another few months.
Looking back on it, I know without a shadow of a doubt why Fallout 3 pulled me out of my depression. It wasn’t because it helped me escape from my troubles, although I do credit it for that to a certain degree - it was because it made me feel like I was worth a damn. That in this period of my life when I felt like a piece of decaying organic waste, I was still able to hope, still able to achieve, still able to do anything. That even when times were hard, I, as a person, was actually worth something, even in a future that was hopelessly deadlocked in a constant cycle of survival and conflict (which my dad feels could be the imminent future of today’s society). I was saving people, changing lives, and vanquishing evil - I felt like someone worth living as, and this translated to my real life and gave me a more optimistic outlook on the future. While I was able to resurface from this horrible slump in my life, the same thing was happening to my parents - in a kind of renewal of spiritual faith, they stopped our house’s sale and my dad gave up drinking cold turkey. While he does still have this annoying tendency to rant about the end times, I’ve learned to accept him nonetheless, to which I credit my Fallout 3 Dad for helping me understand a little better that he only does it to keep my mom and I prepared in case bad times come around.
I am currently halfway through my junior year of high school and haven’t touched Fallout 3 since beating it nearly a year ago (or maybe I didn’t beat it…it kept freezing on me). I haven’t been bullied in months, I’m closer to my parents, and I’m not the antisocial introvert I was last year.I credit Fallout 3 for helping me through this dark part of my life
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