Kirby returns to remind us that escapism isn’t a dirty word

Image: Nintendo

Soapbox items give our team a chance to share some personal perspectives; today it’s Tom Whitehead’s turn to talk about why gaming is more important to him than ever.

I’ve always been someone eager to get lost in my imagination and fascinating worlds; From childhood to this day, my biggest passions are books and video games. I studied literature twice at university and have been in the “games industry” for a decade now; I’ve definitely been fortunate to combine passion with work over the years.

It is certainly escape that I seek; that’s not bad in my opinion. Especially when you reach a secure Age, If all you think about is bills, taxes, and the right laundry detergent, there’s a good chance life is getting extremely boring. Certainly in decades and generations past, adults should have thought mostly about “grown-up” things, but these days it’s possible to be a functional adult who pays bills, as well as someone who plays and enjoys video games. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the next game I want to comfortably lose myself in; the sheer panache in each and every screenshot seems like the complete opposite of “boring”. Despite the post-apocalyptic setting, Forgotten Land is not gloomy, The Kirby-style reboot, thank goodness – it features the little guy’s trademark candy-colored adventures and I can’t wait to dive in.

Along with reading and a love of certain TV and film franchises, gaming has been an important part of my life since I was four. I’m now… let’s just say I’ve been playing for over 30 years. As a kid, games were of course a big part of my world, although they were also very different times – back then there were no download shops or an always-online life. Tips and reviews came from magazines and the playground, and we got games for the Sega Mega Drive (for example) as birthday gifts or rewards/treats. I would play the same game for a month or two and still love it.

To say that gaming has been vital to me over the past few years is an understatement. Few distractions are quite as engaging, engaging, and essential

I’ve argued before that this really is the golden age of gaming compared to back then. Technology is key because whatever games you love – even if they’re retro titles – enjoying them has never been easier. The older I got, the less time I was able to devote to gaming thanks to tedious things like work and commitments. But a key feeling I’ve had over the past few years is that gaming is more important to me than it’s ever been. There are a few possessions that I will cling to above anything as they help me every day. This includes my extensive book collection. My video game collection is different.

I’m not one to tweet a lot about concerns or issues, or generally talk to anyone about them. I’m also not one to believe all the “stiff upper lip” talk some people throw around, although I do somehow live like this. I’m the type of person who supports and encourages people to discuss problems without being inclined to do it myself. I know all the well-intentioned sharing advice, I just know it do not do it.

That’s fine, I am, but it’s also fair to say that the past few years have been unnaturally stressful and difficult and being the internalized guy isn’t always a good approach in the circumstances. Not only do we all wrestle with our personal baggage and our problems, we have also shared a global pandemic, the climate crisis and for some of us, many thoughts now turn to the ongoing war in Ukraine. I’m an avid reader at best and follow current events closely, but keeping up with what’s happening is often unsettling at the moment, and like – I suspect – millions of others, it can affect my sleep, mood, and thoughts. That’s life, isn’t it?

I even got into Pokemon this year, strange times indeed
I even got into Pokemon this year, strange times indeed (Image: The Pokemon Company / Nintendo)

My point is that there are so many issues in the world right now, and they are pouring into our smaller, granular daily lives. As this happens, I become more and more grateful for my books, my shelter, and certainly games. To say that gaming has been vital to me over the past few years is an understatement. Few distractions are quite as engaging, engaging, and essential. The sheer variety that is now available and suitable for all budgets is so important and has helped increase and expand the impact of gaming.

For me, Kirby’s latest adventure is another arrival with Animal Crossing: New Horizons-style timing, a game that feels relevant at the moment. It’s so outrageously cute, cuddly, and soothing that the thought of jumping in calms my mind, just a little.

Escapism isn’t a dirty word — it’s an important part of life, for those of us lucky enough to have the luxury. Kirby returns to remind us that escapism isn’t a dirty word

Fry Electronics Team

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