-by Dylan DiBona
There I was in Costco, perhaps five or six years old, asking my father for a PlayStation 2. At the time, I had no idea what a PlayStation was, or video games, all I knew is I wanted a PlayStation 2. I don’t fully commit to the idea of “fate”, but if it does exist then there is no doubt in my mind that my ignorant asking for a PlayStation 2 was fate.
I love video games. I am willing to admit that I love video games over certain family members (the negligent ones of course). They distract me, they make me think, they make me excited and most importantly, they make me happy. But with any hobby, especially the stationary ones, they come with health problems.
The story I’m about to tell is 100% mine, and absolutely true. I don’t tell it as an attack on video games (obviously). I tell it to encourage and to warn people currently in the same position I once was, or people with children who are acting as I did.
Part One: The Gain
In my earliest days of playing video games, it was mainly a solitary act. I would stay in my room or basement for hours and occasionally my dad would sit down to watch me. Nobody in my family really took an interest in my main hobby. No one stopped me, but no one encouraged me either. I had a single friend down the block who also owned a PlayStation 2, I would watch him play at his house and we would go outside, reenacting the games best moments with our imagination. I was a relatively fit kid at that point. By the time I moved from that little neighborhood and closer to the city, gaming was my life. Xbox 360 was a thing, and so was playing games with your friends even when they weren’t with you through the power of the internet. I was the monkey on the cover of Roger Water’s Amused to Death; I stared at a screen constantly.
Gaming was always something to revel in with my school friends, instead of running around at recess we would discuss the nights activities for Xbox Live. We would stay inside on hot summer days and play for hours either physically or technologically together.
I regrettably didn’t play any organized sports, but to be honest it wouldn’t have countered the vast amount of time me and my buddies were playing video games; all my friends played baseball or basketball and were still overweight. We were the fat kids, the ones who would always gather a bunch of processed snacks and played Halo or Minecraft during sleepovers. As for me, I was always the heaviest; I tried my best to hide it through the magic of loose fitting shirts and sucking in my gut.
Now obviously video games were not the only cause of our health problems, our parents should have regulated our diets and playing time a lot better, but this is where the story gets even worse.
All of those friends started to do the “normal” thing when we split up for high school. They went to co-ed schools while I went to an all male school. Due to the influence of pretty girls, video games and fatty foods took a backseat for them. They began to work out and play a little less, I didn’t. High school was a rough time for me. I didn’t really have any friends or even enemies; I was the invisible in-betweener who was always there but irrelevant. While my friends were out getting girlfriends or going to the gym, I was still playing video games like that mindless thirteen year old.
The loneliness of high school drove me into my hobby more; I went from seeing my best friends every day to seeing them on a lucky weekend. It was around this same time that I discovered the YouTube gaming community, and that my pile of games wasn’t just a bunch of stuff, it was a collection. All these elements culminated into the absolute worst form of myself; at age eighteen I was a whopping 330 pounds and only 5’11 (not that any height justifies that weight). Staircases felt like challenges, gym class was Hell, and for my high school graduation I wore a size 50 pair of pants. It felt terrible when on one episode of The Cleveland Show, the main character was struggling to get into his pants, stating “Come on! These are a size fifty, these have to fit!”; that was a middle aged man and here I was matching his pant size before hitting twenty.I hated going to the doctor, but before entering college it was necessary. He said the one horrifying combination of two words I had deluded myself into thinking wouldn’t apply to me:
It hurt. He warned me of upcoming sicknesses and trials that would follow if I stayed on this route. He spoke to me as if I was already done for. I wanted to cry, but instead I hated myself. I still played my games and still ate horribly. My dad would make huge dinners every night and when I got home around 3:30 every day, I ate a meal. But that was too early, so when I got hungry again around 9 or 10 at night, I would eat another dinner and maybe go to sleep after some more video games. To say it was a terrible cycle is to be understating it. I was going to have momentous health issues if I didn’t wake up.
After that summer I packed up my bags and went off to dorm in college, absolutely overweight and with new braces on my teeth to make things worse for my confidence. College is where my path began to change; it’s one of the few times where I’ve heard of more pain actually doing somebody some good. I’ll get to that next time…
Don’t forget to check out Part 2 soon.
Does anybody else here have a similar story? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.