You were barely 5 years old. You were at home most of the time, if you weren't at a family friend's house being babysat while your parents worked. Even though you were in a different house 5 days out of the week, you don't really remember those times. You remember sitting next to your Dad, or on his lap, while he played the LucasArts game, Full Throttle.
You were always a gifted child (you can't remember not knowing how to read) but there were still some things you struggled with and continue to struggle with. You found it hard to read aloud. Words got tangled up and twisted in your head when you tried to sound them out. You barely read out loud now but in certain, special, or sacred moments you spend hours reading to a loved one.
Even though your Dad tried a plethora of different ways to teach you how to speak properly, they never took. You always wanted to go back to that game. Back to Full Throttle. Back to the world of wrongfully-accused murders and biker gangs. You wanted adventure, puzzle solving, and the occasional laugh or two.
That's when he turned on the subtitles and muted the volume. He'd lay on the bed while you, you would be forced to read everything out loud. He asked you to, he said, "you can play this game as long as you want but you have to read it to me". So, being the child that you are (the child that you were, the child that you spend your whole life looking for), you complied. You played your favorite game and read everything out loud.
It didn't matter who was speaking or what was going on. You forced yourself through it. And eventually, you didn't stutter anymore. You didn't lose your place and your eyes learned to focus on text (even if it was pixelated text). As you aged, this became a habit. You would always turn the subtitles on when you played video games. You'd mumble the words to yourself as they scrawled across the screen.
Over the years, this helped you with a speech impediment that you had. When you tell people there was time where it was hard for you to speak. That opening your mouth felt like trying to jump the Grand Canyon, they laugh and can't believe it. They believe that you are eloquent and smart. That you put a lot of thought into your words. You don't. Not as much as you used to. When they asked what happened, you tell them you had a speech therapist.
You don't tell them that it was video games.
Especially, since it's a pixelated silly point-and-click adventure game. Who would believe you? Who, today, would believe that video games helped you with anything? Who, today, would think that was a cool story?
The last time video games came up in a casual conversation, people couldn't understand the reason behind them. They thought they were a waste of time. They couldn't believe that anything productive could come from video games. You stayed silent, like you used to when you were afraid of your stutter.
You're more afraid of admitting that video games have had a positive affect on your life these days than you are of your actual flaws [flaws include: bad temper, low self-opinion, self-destructive personality]. You can't tell your peers or colleagues that you spent your academic career studying, researching, and analyzing video games.
Because to them, and most of the world around you, games are not productive. They are a waste of time. And when the majority is telling you that the thing you love, the thing that helped you grow, the thing that you adore is a waste of time. You start to believe that you, yourself, are a waste of time.