The Truth About Gaming

We’ve all heard it before. Video games lead to violent behaviour in children, encourage them to use explicit language, and make them unsociable or withdrawn. While there is no doubt that watching young children swear and shriek at adults in online games or spend an entire day glued to a television set is an uncomfortable sight, that is not all there is to video games. Video games are a form of art, a passageway into delicately crafted worlds and adventures that would not be possible through any other medium. The combination of gameplay, music, art direction, and storytelling firmly cement gaming as a legitimate form of artistic expression that can both bring people together and offer individual journeys.

I grew up playing Nintendo games with my friends and family. Whether it was jumping from platform to platform in Super Mario Bros, delving into deep dungeons in The Legend of Zelda, or learning to read through Pokémon Red and Blue, video games were both an educational experience and a means of bonding with family and friends. One of the fondest memories from my childhood was back in the late 90s and early 2000s with Pokémon Red and Blue and Pokémon Gold and Silver; the worlds inside the games were massive and imaginative, filled with secrets around every corner. This would transfer to the playground, where those of us who had yet to learn and master the internet would share rumours , advice, and our own discoveries. Through these discussions, we found common ground and built friendships, all through video games.

 Gaming can bring people together, tell wonderful stories, and reinforce problem solving skills.

Gaming can bring people together, tell wonderful stories, and reinforce problem solving skills.

In my later years, I came to appreciate video games as an art form. The music, when effective, can bring back memories in an instant. It is often strong enough to stand on its own as beautiful pieces of work. Just about anything by Yasunori Mitsuda, my favourite composer, is gold. The ending song he composed for Xenoblade, “Beyond the Sky,” never fails to get me emotional when I go back to listen to it.

 The stories in video games have become more expansive and dense as well, with a notable example being The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky series. The first game’s script adds up to a rough estimate of 1.5 million characters. Its sequel, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, has a rough estimate of three million characters. In fact, XSEED Games, the publisher for the English release of Trails in the Sky, have estimated that Second Chapter has a final word count of 716,401 words. To put this into context, this is about double the length of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. These are just the first two entries in a series that now spans over eight games, and surpasses most novels, movies and television series in the depth of its narrative, world building, and character development.

Ultimately, these are the very reasons I am so frustrated with the bad rap video games get. It is of course true that like anything else, too much of a good thing will eventually have negative effects on people regardless of age. But just enough of a good thing can be great for you. I’m not asking for people to drop everything and love video games. I’m asking for them to take a couple minutes out of their day, become knowledgeable on this relatively new form of artistic expression, and develop an educated opinion on the matter. In such a diverse medium, there is absolutely something for everyone.

Photo Credit: Matt Coleman


Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller is a 22-year-old aspiring writer from Ottawa, Ontario. He enjoys entertaining stories, good music, immersive fantasy, and one thing that brings them all together: video games. His dream is to become a novelist while enjoying life to the fullest.

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Remember to Smile

A smile and a laugh are an infectious pair that can spread quickly. Smiling can serve to make people feel more comfortable while improving your mood and that of those around you. Laughing can reduce stress levels and offer many other health benefits.

 A smile can add a small dose of joy to your day.

A smile can add a small dose of joy to your day.

Studies on the power of a smile have shown that smiling has a positive, stress-reducing effect on the body. A study in Psychology Today found that smiling contributes to stress reduction in a handful of ways, including calming one’s heart rate and stimulating a faster recovery from stressful events. Smiling is an act that releases neuropeptides, molecules which allow neurons to communicate with each other through specific signals. Various feel-good neuropeptides are released when someone smiles, including dopamine and serotonin. The release of these neuropeptides both reduces your blood pressure and calms down your body. In fact, serotonin is known to serve as an anti-depressant. It can be difficult to smile in times of stress or fear, but taking five minutes to do so might calm you down a little bit and decrease your stress.

Smiling not only soothes your own soul, but also that of others. The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression is known as the cingulate cortex, an area triggered by automatic responses. If you smile at someone, they will most likely be inclined to smile back. Smiling may seem like such a small deed, but in reality can form a small, completely beneficial, relationship between people who have never met.

“Laughter is the best medicine” is such a common saying that most people have heard it many times in their lifetime. As it turns out, there is a rationale behind this saying. In a similar manner to smiling, laughing can release many mood-boosting and stress-killing chemicals inside the brain. Laughing releases endorphin, a natural opiate which promotes feelings of caring, forgiveness, attachment, optimism, and self-confidence. Laughing also improves circulation throughout the body and contributes to muscle relaxation, both of which are excellent ways to reduce feelings of anxiety. Laughter is also incredibly contagious—just take a look at this video!

Laughing and smiling are transmissible ways of spreading happiness! I’d love to hear stories about how a smile or a laugh improved your day!

Photo Credit: Helmut Gevert                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Photo Credit: RITUALS


Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller is a 22-year-old aspiring writer from Ottawa, Ontario. He enjoys entertaining stories, good music, immersive fantasy, and one thing that brings them all together: video games. His dream is to become a novelist while enjoying life to the fullest.

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Working Towards a Healthy Body and Mind

There are many different ways to fight your fears and stress. Some are not so healthy and I would recommend avoiding: over-drinking, over-eating and over-sleeping. They can often give some relief in the short-term, but lead to bad habits or unhealthy lifestyles in the long-term. When fighting a battle as difficult as overcoming fears or stress, it is important to take care of yourself and keep your mind and body in tip-top shape. From here on, I’ll share some strategies I have found to make me feel good in both mind and body.

 Proper sleep is crucial to a healthy mind.

Proper sleep is crucial to a healthy mind.

The first, and one I have already discussed in my blogs, is writing.  Writing is an excellent way to get thoughts off your chest. I find clarity through doing this, as it lets me take a step back from my problems and view them from a different perspective.

Good sleep is paramount to a healthy mind. I speak from experience on this one. I have had a spotty history with sleep, many times crossing over into full insomniac territory, functioning only on caffeine and obligations. After particularly long periods without sleep, I found myself far less in control of my thoughts. I noticed that paranoia would spiral out of control, I was often too tired to look at things rationally and see problems for what they were. Recently, I have gotten into a much better sleeping schedule. While it has not made me into some sort of fearless hero, I find I am a lot calmer and more rational regarding things that bother me, and am able to think through situations more clearly.

It is important to set time aside for yourself free from work and obligations. Whether you like watching television, playing video games or an instrument, exercising, or whatever, it is important to do these things. Taking time for yourself is not a privilege, but a necessity for a healthy mind and lifestyle. I understand it can be a difficult task in itself to leave your worries at the door and just relax, but focusing on building this ability helped me create time when my mind could be at peace.

If you have any strategies that you have found useful, please share them with me!

Photo Credit: Sean Ratke


Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller is a 22-year-old aspiring writer from Ottawa, Ontario. He enjoys entertaining stories, good music, immersive fantasy, and one thing that brings them all together: video games. His dream is to become a novelist while enjoying life to the fullest.

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Strength in Fiction

"Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."~C.S. Lewis

My relationship with fiction is an interesting one. Something I promised to myself, and do my best to upkeep, is to surround myself with positive influences that keep me feeling good. This applies to recreational fiction reading and writing as well. While I’ll rarely refuse a good tragedy or a moving story of heartbreak, I find that heroic, thrilling and hope-inspiring fiction puts me in a good mood and makes me feel more confident as well. There is something empowering about a story wherein the hero saves the day at the last moment, where people overcome their struggles, or where someone finds courage inside them and grows up a little bit by the end of the story. While I enjoy the story itself, it also makes me feel happy that someone out there wrote these stories; that there are authors who also believe in the positive power of heroism.

 Stories of heroism can inspire and empower us.

Stories of heroism can inspire and empower us.

As someone who spends a lot of time playing video games, it is the form of fiction that has shaped me the most. Video games allow you to insert yourself into a world and save it with your own hands. If a game is good, you come to care about the world and characters, and you create your, and their, happiness with your own time and effort. One of the most inspiring games I have ever played is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which focuses on bringing happiness to people facing the apocalypse, and with the help of the player, characters can find love, strength and hope, even in the face of the world’s end.

Of course, I have found many kinds of fiction outside of video games inspiring. The ultimate point I’m making here is how much of a role fiction plays in my overcoming stress. It could be because I am a child at heart, but even now, I ask myself: “What would that hero do right now?”

If there’s any fiction that has inspired you, please share it with me! I’m always looking for a great and inspiring story!

Photo Credit: Ajtai K. Keggard


Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller is a 22-year-old aspiring writer from Ottawa, Ontario. He enjoys entertaining stories, good music, immersive fantasy, and one thing that brings them all together: video games. His dream is to become a novelist while enjoying life to the fullest.

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Write For You

A lot of things in our day-to-day lives can create feelings of anxiety inside even the strongest of us. I have always found that in times of uncertainty, nothing is better than knowing that you’re not alone, and that there will always be people out there who can sympathize with you and support you.

That’s the kind of blog I want this to be. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I can make you fearless or solve your problems, but I would be very happy if this blog could be a small voice in the back of your mind, reminding you that “you’re not alone!” and “not to give up!” To that end, I would like to discuss some of the fears I have either dealt with or continue to deal with and the methods I have found most effective to fight against them.

The first way I have found to combat my anxiety is to find a source of positive reinforcement in your life. It can be a friend, a hobby, sports, writing, whatever. I found a list of small, feel-good hobbies that may be worth taking into consideration. The important thing is to find something in your life that makes you feel positive and good about yourself.

             Writing can be therapeutic and help heal the soul, give a new perspective, and allow for clarity of mind and thought.

            Writing can be therapeutic and help heal the soul, give a new perspective, and allow for clarity of mind and thought.

I have found the most difficult times in terms of fighting my fears to be when I have isolated or cut myself off from things that I enjoy doing. Negativity breeds in isolation, or so I have found, and keeping myself occupied and busy with things that make me feel confident and good are one of the most effective ways of keeping my anxiety at bay.

I find writing to be very therapeutic. I like to write short stories where the protagonist overcomes some sort of issue that I am facing in my own life. I can only write characters whom have at least a little bit of me in them, and in guiding the protagonist through the conflict in their life and having them emerge triumphant on the other side, I find clarity. Whether you write your problems into a story like I do or simply jot them down, both therapists and myself have found translating thought to paper to be a positive way of fighting anxiety. 

Please let me know if this advice has helped you, and feel free to share your own strategies with me!

Photo Credit: Andrew Cahill


Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller is a 22-year-old aspiring writer from Ottawa, Ontario. He enjoys entertaining stories, good music, immersive fantasy, and one thing that brings them all together: video games. His dream is to become a novelist while enjoying life to the fullest.

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