We’ve all heard it, that familiar story of how we’ll all become murderers or bank robbers or some other form of violent criminal because we enjoy playing video games. But we never really hear about the good side of gaming. The side that lets people escape from trouble they’re having, emotions they’re feeling.

11-year-old Caine Smith has told the world how he has been beaten, harassed and bullied because he has long hair and two mums. Because he’s different. But he’s also told the world what most of us gamers knew already, that gaming is good for you.

“Gaming actually really helps me a lot to calm down and get out of the troubling parts of my life and clear my mind of things that happened. It’s like going into a different universe – I can fly without having anything to hold me up.”

Now I’m sure this resonates with a lot of us, I can honestly say it does with me.

I was bullied at school for being different, for liking piercings and tattoos and because girls aren’t supposed to like games. For me the first sign of relief wasn’t when I saw a teacher, or when I got home to my parents. It was when I turned on that console and turned into someone else. Someone with a badass sword. Someone that can fly. I know that for me, for Caine, and for so many other people, gaming doesn’t mean we’re going to pick up a gun and shoot a load of people. It means we can escape for a while, do things we can’t do in the ordinary world, stand up to the bad guys.

Caine Smith is a brave 11-year-old kid. He has stood up to bullies in a way I know I never could have at that age. I know I wasn’t okay with being different until I was in my late teens but here’s a strong person, someone that knows who they are and doesn’t want to change.

While he’s tackling bullying for others like him Caine’s also tackling conceptions about gaming. We as a gaming community need to lift him up on our shoulders to cheers of support.

We’ve all laughed off the notion that we’re all sexist, violent killers just waiting to burst from our late night, take away and caffeine-fuelled cocoon. Now we have this positive idea – that gaming helps people. I’d say that’s an idea we’re all willing to back. Something we’re all familiar with.

“I can fly without having anything to hold me up.”

Us folk here at n3rdabl3 wanted to share our tales of when gaming has helped us through a tough time.

Jess Wilson – Home Heartaches. “I had trouble at school but had little to no escape when I got home. My parents struggled to understand what I was going through and with two little sisters in the mix it wasn’t made any easier. I found refuge in RPGs were I could become someone else, complete difficult quests and help people with problems they were having. Solving make-believe issues became an amazing coping mechanism and I still use gaming to take my mind off things today.”

Robin White – Breakups and Bullies. “My girlfriend broke up with me and rather than get drunk and make bad life decisions, I distracted myself with sixteen hours of Black Ops multiplayer. Prestiged twice, which almost made up for the crippling heartache. I remember being in year seven, these kids decided it’d be fun to see how many times they could spit on the back of my trousers on the way home from school. Spent the evening crying and playing Defender of the Crown. Made me feel better.”

James Hoare – Social Struggles. “My mother and father are both severely hearing impaired. With how I was brought up making friends and having social interactions was incredibly hard. I turned to gaming to keep myself from falling into a pit of loneliness. It not only helped me stop crying at nigth for having no friends but gave me something which when everyone else started gaming let me make friends properly”

Nikholai Chan – Bad Bullying. “For me, during the years I was being heavily bullied gaming really helped me out. It gave me the safe heaven I need to get away from it all and even for only a short amount of time, enjoy life. I honestly don’t know how I would of pulled through those years without gaming offering a helping hand.”

Paul Graham – The Bad Patch. “I lost a job, my dad, a dog, my mother in law and was in a bad patch with my ex a good few years back. It ruined my social skills completely and I couldn’t bear to go out nor socialise with anyone. The only thing that helped me escape and build my confidence back up was joining a clan of likeminded Scots and hitting the Battlefield Bad Company 2 servers.
The distraction and the fellas giving good banter, cracking jokes and the occasional penis shaped bullethole drawing on a garage wall managed to get me back on my feet, out the door and back to life. I’m still in the clan and that’s 6 years past now.”

Karl Andrews – The Coping Mechanism. “My dad was taken away from me, for a crime he did not commit, and when I was taken into care by my nan the only thing I did was play video games to cope with the situation I had been placed in. I played non stop, more than seven hours a day. I was happy playing whatever it is at the time.”

Jon Newcombe – The Hangover.  “I’ll go with introducing Halo to my entire uni house and our discovery that Tiger Woods is the best game ever when you have a Sunday morning hangover. Those were fun times.”

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