Rime: An Emotional Journey

I lost someone undeniably important to me in November of 2011. I was only 16 years old at the time. At this age, in my junior year of high school, my main idea of fun was a balance of socializing with friends, and gaming. Rather, it would’ve been, had my family not experienced such a life altering loss. After what happened, I found myself having less energy for the highs and lows of friendships and girlfriends. Figuring out what to do next was my primary concern. Being there for my younger sister, who was 11 years old, was even more important.

Figuring out where to focus my energy was a struggle most of the time. I knew I couldn’t end my education, so in that regard, I had to move on quickly. There was no time to stop during the most pivotal year of high school. I knew that SAT scores and a high GPA were the deciding factors in higher education. Keeping that in mind, I focused on school and saved some time to goof off with newfound friends. I wouldn’t give up my memories with friends for anything. Looking back, I can appreciate how important it was to have that distraction. My friends were wild, even crazy at times, but that’s what I loved about them. I was the “mother hen” of the friend group. When someone decided it would be a good idea to do something questionable, I’d be the one saying, “Come on guys, maybe we should just stay home and chill.” That’s how I got the nickname “No fun Nick.”

When I wasn’t keeping my friends from going over the deep end, I reserved my time at night to escape into a digital world. Stress went away if only for a couple hours, but that was the beauty of my gaming experiences. I would curl up on the leather couch, grab a blanket, and slide in my copy of Uncharted. Shooting

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Nathan Drake from the third Uncharted game | courtesy of Flickr

virtual bad guys was rewarding when I wanted some quick stress relief. What made it even better was having my dad on the couch next to me, watching my every move. Knowing he was there, enjoying a cinematic experience, made me try even harder. But every once in a while, a special game would pop up, making me set aside the AK-47s for a more delicate narrative.

 

The first game I ever played that made me look at games differently was called Journey. It was a story with no dialogue, no obvious missions, and no traditional combat. The game dropped me into a dry desert world as a humanoid character with a flowing robe. The only distinguishable thing in the distance was a tall-standing mountain. It looked almost out of place, so I decided to start my trek in that direction. What followed was a platforming and puzzling adventure that artfully detailed the ebb and flow of our own life’s journey. I’m glad My dad was with me every step of the way in my Journey gameplay. He still talks to this day about how amazing the ending was for him. I need not say any more about the finale.

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The start of Journey |courtesy of Flickr

After Journey, I felt a deep appreciation for video games as an art form. It helped me realize how games had become a new platform for storytelling. From then on, I sought that same experience from a video game. One where you had to stop and reflect when the credits rolled.

 

In my seven years that have passed since Journey, I rarely found a game that I shared a personal connection with. One that stood out to me was a game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Again, a beautiful game with an abnormal play-style that brought the narrative to an emotional close in the final act. But there’s a different game on my mind.

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The brothers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons | courtesy of Flickr

Today, I went back to a game that I started at the beginning of the year. This game was called Rime. It was engaging enough, with a visually pleasing art style and tight controls.  I stopped this game on a couple of occasions for different reasons. Sometimes I would get to a tricky puzzle that made me put the game down and pick up something that required less brain capacity. (In other words, I would play Fortnite, to which I regret for the most part.) My drive to play that enraging third-person shooter game finally dwindled, and I found myself going through my library of incomplete games. Rime was in there.

 

I booted it up again, determined that I would figure out the game-halting puzzle that made me stop in the first place. Much to my dumb-founded surprise, the puzzle was simpler than it looked. So I pressed forward, continuing the story and finishing the game within one more hour. I was not prepared for what I’d feel in the final act. The feeling I only got from a game a couple of times before.

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The first scene of Rime | courtesy of Flickr

To understand what I felt, I need to paint a picture of how the game presented itself. You start off as a young boy washed up on a quiet beach. He has no recollection of what happened to him. The only things that drive him further inland is a chirpy little orange fox that tries to get his attention, and a mysterious robed man. The man is the major question mark of the adventure. He had a tendency of appearing on high ledges, just out of reach, only to disappear when you got close enough.

The way the game tied loose ends when I finished my journey was ever-satisfying. I found myself just staring at the end credits, absorbing the peaceful music and reading all the loving notes from the game developers to their families.

I don’t want to give away any of Rime’s surprises so I’ll just say this. I found myself having an emotional connection to this game because it touched upon the theme of loss. After the credits finished, and the developers thanked you for playing their game, I looked back at the chapter select menu. That’s when the message really hit home. All the five chapters of the game had appropriately given titles.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Five words that simply sum-up the different stages of grief after losing a loved one. I can say that I experienced phases of each of these. Some were more extreme than others, and for other people it might not happen in this order. For that matter, I myself might not be completely out of the woods yet on my journey toward acceptance.

I want to leave you with this.

For anyone who just experienced a loss of your own, know that it’s going to be as hard as you make it. Your journey mirrors hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other people experiencing similar trauma. That said, your special someone is and always will be yours. He or she means something to you that can’t be described with words. So what I can suggest, from personal experience, is to not hold those feelings in. Friends come in handy for this step.

Friends can listen and empathize with you in ways family might not be able to. Friends can lift your spirits in the worst of times. Friends can distract you from reality in the best of ways. Don’t shut out your friends. It’s easy pick up a video game controller, and there is a time for that, but sometimes the harder choice of calling up a friend is what would be best for your soul.

I thank the developers and partners of Tequila Works for making such a fantastic video game. Rime is very special. Thank you.

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Beautiful. | courtesy of Flickr

 

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“I cannot give …

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure–which is: Try to please everybody.”

-Herbert Bayard Swope

This is basically another way of saying you can’t please everybody. You will always find the people who are dead-set in their ways and believe that everyone is out to get them. It’s sad to think about, but perhaps these kinds of people have lost something or someone in their lives that caused them to turn into a negative person. You have to let these people find happiness themselves if they are close-minded.

On that note, don’t stop trying to be a people-pleaser. You are commendable for trying to help as many people as you can. That is a great goal in life that you should never lose sight of.

What Happened, and What Will Happen

mother_and_son_posters-r992cd2bcad3e48008119510fb34e7b25_azsy4_8byvr_512Have you ever taken a moment to think about what you’ve done in recent past? From what you did a couple minutes ago, to what you did a couple years ago. I think a lot about the past two years of my life, perhaps to simply find satisfaction in the things I’ve done. I finished off my junior and senior years in yet another new school. Yet I keep asking myself if I did the right thing in my new high school. It’s sad to reflect upon my academic performance this way, but I just feel like I could’ve achieved so much more. The new school environment just didn’t feel right. You’re probably thinking that I should’ve been able to adapt to a new school just fine after doing it once before, and writing a book about my experience. But something life changing happened this second time I switched schools. During my first move, I had all my family members right beside me… guiding me down the right path. I mostly have my mother to thank for my strong performance in my first new school. She was awesome! She was the one who persisted that I write a book about my move and achievements, with the sole purpose of helping others. But then, right when I moved again, my mother unexpectedly passed away. The number one driving force to guide me to achieve great things, was now gone… and she wasn’t coming back. I can’t forget to mention my dad though; He’s done a great job juggling the new family responsibilities he was forced to take control of. But I guess this is what I keep reminding myself of… Experiencing the early loss of my mother made my thoughts scatter out of control during my last two years of high school. I was no longer very interested in socializing, or extracurricular activities, or chasing after a girl. That was all put on hold, as my family came first. But I can say at this point, things are looking up. Family matters have improved over time and I’m ready give my 100% effort going into college. Everything you read probably seemed really depressing, and I don’t want anyone to be left feeling down. That’s why I’d like to direct you to my YouTube channel, where you can find a wide selection of upbeat and helpful videos. I have a video series called “aThott” where I give practical advice to certain life situations. Throughout these episodes I give comical examples and scenarios to these challenges. I encourage you to check out my channel(Flixonix), at the link below.

Thank you, and don’t forget to check back for more daily posts and fun stuff!

Link: http://www.youtube.com/user/Flixonix