BY MICHAEL DENTON: This isn’t a sob story about how I became depressed. This is me reaching out to people who may find their safe haven in a video game, just like I did.
As a kid growing up, things weren’t easy. Home life was difficult, at school I struggled with and real friends were but a dream. I finished my studies at school and finished at age 15. I searched for months but could not get a job and I was being knocked back by every company I visited with my CV in hand and a smile on my face, waiting for an opportunity to prove myself to somebody. Every knockback, negative comment, made my depression get deeper and deeper.
This was until 11th November 2011 when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out.
I remember my girlfriend at the time buying me this game on Xbox 360. The moment I booted up the game and heard that menus music for the very first time, my entire world changed. I got caught up in all the lore, quest lines and the atmosphere of the game. I struggled to put the game down as I was truly lost in exploring this gigantic world with so many NPCs and quests to do. It was only when I put down the controller, I realized something.
For around 10 hours of me playing Skyrim, all my worries and pain had vanished for a short while. I hadn’t thought or worried about money, jobs, or anything else – it was the pure happiness of being in the Skyrim world.
Every single time I applied for a job and got knocked back, it made me feel worthless and like I was never going to get a job or get anywhere in life. Every time I just needed a break from feeling like I was worthless, I went into Skyrim and every single time for however long I had that controller in my hand, I forgot all about the outside world. It was all just a blur. Skyrim gave me a safe place to visit away from all the worry and concern that everyday life brought. I can safely say that Skyrim helped me through some of the darkest moments in my life simply because of the escape it gave me and the emotions it taught me through playing through the game.
Every time I look back at Skyrim, I have happy memories instead of bad ones because the game took away all the pain for many hours. I will never forget the first time I picked up that controller and heard that music for the very first time. Now I’m an adult, married, mortgage and an amazing job that I am extremely proud of. In 2016, Bethesda release The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. I bought it in a heart beat and sat down, put the game in, turned up my headset and listened to that menus music for the first time in years and every single emotion I felt in 2011 came rushing back.
The memories, the feelings.
Now, the game gives me a release from the stress I feel from work when I get home after an 11 hour day, allowing me to disappear for an hour or two when I need it most. Gaming isn’t just sitting in front of a screen mindless for hours and being ‘lazy’ as people who wouldn’t understand would have you believe. Gaming is a safe place for people who need to escape the real world for just a short while and I will be forever grateful that games exist as if it was not for Skyrim, who knows where I would be today.
Thank you Bethesda, thank you.