Editor’s Note: Because the following story deals with difficult life challenges, the New York Videogame Critics Circle has decided not to publish the last name of this brave 14 year-old writer from our Lower East Side Videogame Critics Circle.
It was like a train hit me. I went to sleep and when I woke up my mom standing there was looking at the door at 9 p.m. And I just knew. I knew what happened. My father was gone. He left. I went to my room and was just crying in my pillow. My mom wanted me to play the Call of Duty: Black Ops that she bought for me. But I couldn’t. I was too upset. She was disappointed because she couldn’t get me to play the game to get my mind off my father leaving us. She went to her room. Me and my father never had a good relationship. I don’t know why. I don’t think he ever liked me.
So after a while I was tired of crying and tired of thinking it about it.
I didn’t think I wanted to play it; I was still so upset about my father. But then I did play. I remember taking the wrapper off, and putting the disk in the PlayStation. It just felt like it could take me away from everything. I put on my headphones and it took me into another world. That Sunday was a big blowup for me. So I really shut everything out and put my hands on that controller and my eyes on the screen and there was nothing else but the game.
The intro shows you tied up and you’re getting shocked over and over. There’s all this talk about numbers. The codes unlock portions of the game. There’s this guy named Hudson, and they’re teaching me the numbers. The numbers also connect to his birthday. Then, there’s Cuba. And war.
It’s 11:30 now. I’m just looking at the screen and my Mom walks in. She was upset for me. She gave me that look like I’m up too late on a Sunday, but she just let me play the game. She gave me freedom. I’m shooting, and moving forward. Then, it’s 1:30 in the morning and my mom came in again. She said, go to bed. But she let me play. I didn’t go to bed that night. I played until eight in the morning. I finished all the levels (in the story mode).
Toward the end (in the interrogation room), you finally see who’s been asking you questions. It’s Hudson’s face, a CIA special agent. He unstraps you from the chair. Then at the end, you’re on a giant ship fighting and water’s coming in and you choke your enemy. That’s the whole campaign.
I’m truly tired. My mom walked in one more time. I didn’t want to be alone. I asked for mom to come play with me. She smiled. She knew I was hurt, and I guess she was hurt too. So we played the zombies mode. Me and my mom got to the second level. And we died. I said, “Mom, I’m going to sleep. This is all too scary.”
Isaiah is a member of the Lower East Videogame Critics Circle, part of our partnership with the Henry Street Settlement and the Youth Opportunity Hub. He has also enjoyed playing The Outer Worlds.