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Kirby returns to remind us that escape is not a bad word

Kirby returns to remind us that escape is not a bad word

Image: Nintendo

Soapbox articles give our team the opportunity to share personal insights; Today, it’s Tom Whitehead’s turn to explain why gaming matters more to him than ever.


I’ve always been someone willing to get lost in my imagination and in intriguing worlds; from childhood to the present day my greatest passions remain books and video games. I studied literature at university, twice, and have now spent a decade in the “games industry”; I’ve definitely had the chance to combine passion and work over the years.

It’s definitely the escape I’m looking for; that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. Especially when you reach a certain age, if all you think about is bills, taxes, and which washing up liquid suits you, it’s entirely possible that life is extremely boring. It certainly would have been the case in past decades and generations that adults should primarily think about “adult” things, but nowadays it is possible to be a functional adult who pays bills and also something. ‘one who plays and loves video games. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the next game in which I seek to lose myself pleasantly; the sheer verve of every screenshot feels like the absolute opposite of “boring”. Despite the post-apocalyptic setting, Forgotten Land isn’t a bit gritty, The Kirby-style reboot, thank goodness – it delivers the little guy’s trademark candy-colored adventure and I can’t wait to dive into it.

Besides reading and loving certain TV and movie franchises, gaming has been an integral part of my life since I was about four years old. I’m now… let’s just say I’ve been playing for over 30 years. As a kid, games were of course a big part of my world, although they were also very different times – no download stores or always-on-line life back then. Advice and reviews would come from magazines and the playground, and we’d have games for the Sega Mega Drive (for example) as birthday presents or rewards/treats. I would play the same game for a month or two and still love it.

To say games have been vital to me over the past few years is an understatement. Few types of entertainment are as captivating, exciting and essential

I discussed before this, compared to these days, It really is the golden age of gaming.. Technology is the key to this because whatever games you love, even if they are retro titles, it has never been easier to enjoy them. As I got older, I was also less able to devote time to gaming, thanks to boring things like work and commitments. But a key feeling I’ve had over the past two years is that the game is more important to me than ever. There are a few possessions that I will cling to above all else as they help me get through the day. My large collection of books is one. My collection of video games is another.

I’m not someone who tweets a lot about concerns or issues, or generally talks about them with, well, anyone. I’m also not someone who buys into all that “stiff upper lip” talk some people throw around, even though I do. kind of live like this. I’m the type of person who supports and encourages people to discuss issues, without being inclined to do so myself. I know all the well-meaning advice about sharing, I just do not do it.

That’s fine, that’s who I am, but it’s also fair to say that the past few years have been abnormally stressful and difficult, and being the internalizing type isn’t always a good approach under these circumstances. Not only are we all struggling with our personal baggage and issues, but we’ve shared a global pandemic, the climate crisis and for some of us, a lot of thoughts are drifting right now to the ongoing war in Ukraine. I’m a heavy reader at the best of times and follow the news closely, but following events is often upsetting right now, and like – I suspect – millions of others, it can affect my sleep, my mood and my thoughts. That’s life, is not it ?

I even got into Pokémon this year, strange times indeed
I even got into Pokémon this year, strange times indeed (Picture: The Pokémon Company/Nintendo)

What I mean is that right now there are so many issues all over the world, and they’re fueling our smaller, granular daily existence. As this happened, I became more and more grateful for my books, my shelter and absoutely Games. To say games have been vital to me over the past few years is an understatement. Few types of entertainment are as captivating, exciting and essential. The wide variety available now, catering to all budgets, is so important and has helped to elevate and broaden the impact of the game.

For me, Kirby’s latest adventure is another arrival with Animal Crossing: New Horizons-style timing, a game that seems relevant right now. It’s so cute, cuddly and reassuring that just thinking about jumping into it relieves me a little.

Escape isn’t a dirty word – it’s a vital part of life, for those of us who are blessed with this luxury.