I don't have many memories of being a kid. Aside from the first time I got told off at school and that one time I got my foot stuck in the monkey bars and had to be rescued by a teacher, all I really remember is video games.
Back then me and my family lived in Bath, a beautiful city with not much to do after you've lived there for most of your life. My parents, like me, were both born in London and clearly felt the same way, as they'd often use their free time to play video games together.
The first game I remember watching them play was Myst, an adventure puzzle game published in 1993 for the PC. Let me tell you now, that game terrified me when I was younger. For no obvious reason either, as it wasn't a horror game or anything close to it. There were no enemies and no threat of a game over in sight, but something about the atmosphere just got to me. A world so full of stuff, but I never remember seeing another character (mind you, I haven't played it since).
Even though it scared me, something about it was special. Maybe it was just the novelty of playing a game with an old joystick, but I like to think it was inspiration hitting me.
I have always been creatively inspired by beautiful things, and especially beautiful things I could explore, or watch others explore. Myst was one of those things, but a bigger one was The Legend of Zelda.
Around the same time as being scared of Myst, I was also being frightened by Majora's Mask, now one of my favourite Zelda titles. One of the only vivid memories of my childhood that I have is my dad, sitting in the middle of our warm looking living room trying to beat the final boss of the game with me frantically attempting to read from the walkthrough book to tell my dad how to defeat him.
The end process of Majora's Mask (you know, with the tree and the kids and the masks and all that? Along with the psychedelic walls and nightmarish inhabitants of the final boss room, of course) still haunt me to this day, in the best way possible.
As an artist who loves to play with colours and their combinations, that boss room was incredible to me, as well as, I'm sure, the vast majority of people who have played the game. Not only did this game inspire my art, even to this day, well over a decade after first seeing it, but it helped to show me that even things that are scary can kindle beautiful ideas.
As I grew up, the Zelda games remained a constant in my life, and a frequent inspiration for all of the things I create. Which always makes me question; why do so many people see video games as a waste of time? Yes they use your time, time that you could be using to create, but that could be said of any hobby. How are creative people meant to create without influences?
A video game is a story, a journey, just as important as any book or artsy film you could recommend. Games can be wonderful, motivating, terrifying, tear-jerking or just downright tragic, just like any other story telling medium. (And yes violent, but let's read between those lines for now. Those bloody, gory lines.)
The gloom of Myst and the adventure of Zelda games intrigued me when I was younger, and although even now the former still puts me on edge, Zelda and video games that in my mind are similar (Shadow of the Colossus, Elder Scrolls, Ratchet & Clank, etc) are still things I come back to when in need of inspiration.
Whether they make art or memories, video games are an important part of many people's lives and livelihoods, and are a healthy alternative to falling head-first from a railing in the school playground that you climbed because you wanted to be an explorer. Oops.