Bridging The Gap: How Video Games Solidified My Relationship With My Step-Father

A passion for gaming helped the bond between a young black girl and her step-dad grow.

Video games helped me build a closer relationship with my step-father.

Our common interest and passion for gaming and technology was the very thing that bridged the gap between two different worlds – one of a Russian immigrant and one of a young black woman.

Both my mind and my heart opened up to a man who wanted to be the missing fatherly figure in my life.

Around 1st grade is when my mom and my biological father split up. And for some time, it was just us three Musketeers–my mother, me, and my brother.

That is until my step-dad, Paul, came into our lives around 3rd grade. It was then that we moved in with him and began the 20+ year long journey. But like most kids with divorced parents, I didn’t immediately embrace this new father figure in my life.

I was a complete daddy’s girl and of course, was too young to understand the reasoning behind my parents split. So naturally, I gave Paul a hard time with his newly established parental role.

But, as a kind, patient man, eventually he found a way to connect with me. A way that connected us not only as a family but as two people who’ve walked different paths in life.

My siblings and I grew up pretty well rounded, but both Paul and my mother not only supported my passion for video games but continued to feed into it. Whenever Christmas came around, my step-dad would work with my mom to buy my brother and I the latest console. We’ve owned a PlayStation, Xbox, Gameboy, and every console you can name. They allowed us to play whatever video game and whenever.

One of the greatest things Paul told me was how video games can change lives. And he’s right. The other day I spoke with him and he said:

“Video games are complex but amazing. Working on it while in high school was not just a learning experience in programming but it also exposed me to a complex, dynamic, and highly competitive world. It taught me that our career paths can be difficult but, having fun along the way can be just as fulfilling as it is challenging. And even if your future job doesn’t involve video gaming, the experience, problem-solving, and passion gained are invaluable in whatever career you decide to do.”

As you can see, my parents never viewed video games as a waste of time but as a potential future. And part of why they had that view was because my step-dad helped to create one of the earliest PC games called Panic Button.

Over the years, I eventually started to love and cherish Paul as a father and embraced the constant support he gave our family. This man not only taught me about the latest technology and video games but, also what a real, good father and man look like.

And for that, I’ll always love him, no matter the different skin color or background. He is my father.

Erin Ashey Simon is a writer, producer, host and contributor for The Shadow League. Host of Cheddar Esports and Grass Routes Podcast, a former college athlete who passes the time playing flag football. Simon has previous work experience at Cycle Media, REVOLT TV, The Wall Street Journal, and more. Originally from New Jersey, Simon graduated from the University of Kentucky.