#1000speak–Trust, Forgiveness, and Regen: A Gamer’s Guide to Life

sonic anniversaryI’m a terrible person to play video games with. I’m that gamer. The one who needs to find every bit of loot, every piece of armor, every hidden gem. The one who will spend hours and hours on the same level farming a boss or running through caverns killing the same monsters because they have cool drops and I’m looking for that one item I don’t have.

I always start off with the best of intentions. I want to complete the quest and win the game. I like to win. Once I’ve learned the ropes and have seen all the shiny loot I can play with, I’m not so interested in winning. I’m a hoarder. I’ll build a dozen characters just to collect special armor pieces. Somewhere on my computer, there’s a folder full of screenshots of all my Torchlight characters decked out in my favorite gear.(The ones in this post aren’t mine.  They must be on an external drive.)

torchlight vanquisher class

By the time I’m halfway through the game, I’m a multimillionaire, and I’ve figured out every possible strategy for gaining gold, good drops, and high XP. I drive my friends crazy because I will not leave a level if there is any possibility that I haven’t acquired all the gold.

Some games have a feature where, if you die, you have the option to regenerate at a checkpoint instead of having to go all the way back to the beginning of a level. The catch? You have to give up a bunch of gold and XP! As I’m sure you can guess, I HATE THAT. I’ll go back to the start of the level every time. I don’t care. I worked hard for that gold. I am not going to give it up. Who cares if I royally screwed up and got myself killed? I’m still not going to give up my hard-earned gold. Sure, I’ll back up a little bit, go through the motions by fighting some more bad guys, but I’m not really going to give up anything, and hey, I’ll gain a little more XP in the process.

torchlight-loot

People want forgiveness to work like that. You screw something up, break another person’s trust, then you talk about wanting to “start over.” The person is hurt is supposed to just graciously forgive and allow you to backtrack without really losing any ground.

HEY! Are you a gamer? Stick around!

Comment on this post with a screenshot (or screenshots) of your characters’ armor. I want to see lots of toons decked out in fashionable battle attire! Favorites will be featured in a roundup!

Except, in real life, trust builds up over time. It takes a lot more work to gain trust than it does to gain XP or gold in a video game. It’s a lot harder to get back. When you break a trust, something shatters, and everything you’ve built up just drains away. You don’t get to start over with all your trust-loot safely tucked away. The bars are empty. You get to start over at zero and work your way forward again. Your relationship may continue to grow, and you may be better off for it in the end, but it will never quite be the same as what you had before.

torchlight vanquisher class

My dad is an alcoholic and a crack addict. He’s known among our family and friends as “the Master Bullshitter,” which means that you can never quite trust anything he says. When he’s sober and on the level, he’s a great guy. The trouble is, you never know if you’re going to get the nice guy or the Master Bullshitter. My mom was a classic enabler. I knew she loved us, but sometimes she would lose her temper and do crazy things. I have neurogenic bladder and bowel problems. When I was 7, she accused me of wetting my pants on purpose because I wanted to break up her marriage. When I was a little older, and I tried to report my dad for abuse, she told the entire neighborhood that I was lying, and again, swore up and down that my entire motivation was to break up her marriage. The only thing I knew about “forgiveness” was, eventually people stopped treating me like a pariah. Eventually we just didn’t talk about it anymore and pretended nothing happened. We went back to the last checkpoint in the video game and just kept going.

torchlight zealot

There’s something that gets twisted inside you when you can’t trust your parents, and it’s worse when you know that your parents believe you are capable of doing something as heinous and manipulative as reporting a person to the police in order to break up a marriage. There’s a part of you that closes off, and you start to view the world through barbed wire, armor plates, and cactus spines. You start to think that everyone is going to see you that way. You know the truth. You are telling the truth–but you walk through the world ready to fight, because you expect that you will always have to prove yourself. You’ll always need to have all your facts and figures in order, all your arguments thought out, all your credentials upfront. Because people will not expect you to know what you are talking about. They will not expect you to be trustworthy. You have to earn their trust, and if you do anything to break it, you might as well throw in the towel.

Maybe that’s why I like collecting armor so much in my games. Maybe that’s why I have screenshots of all my characters. So I can prove I worked that hard, earned all that stuff, am telling the truth. I don’t know.

torchlight vanquisher class

I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness and trust since my childhood, but I’ve only just realized how weird my thinking is about proving myself. I really don’t want another issue to work on.I’m almost 40. I’d like to be able to function without this much fucking effort. But then I think about how much I’ve gained that most people take for granted. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to become Rose B. Fischer.

I choose to forgive my family every day. I’ll be making the same choice for the rest of my life. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s an action.

HEY! Are you a gamer? Stick around!

Comment on this post with a screenshot (or screenshots) of your characters’ armor. I want to see lots of toons decked out in fashionable battle attire! Favorites will be featured in a roundup!

This post is for #1000speak, Blogher’s Writing Lab, #Postaday and Zero to Hero on WordPress, and BloggingFreedom.org’s 30 Day Challenge.