How Zelda Saved This Boy’s Family

Zelda: Ocarina of Time is widely considered by gamers and critics to be the greatest video game of all-time. It was released in 1998, and nearly 20 years later, it is still the highest-rated game on Metacritic (a review-aggregating site), with a score of 99/100.

For people who have never played it, I always describe it the same way: it’s the Harry Potter of video games. In other words, it’s pure magic and fun wrapped in a hero’s journey, and there’s really nothing else that’s quite as enjoyable. I really like Zelda games, but I LOVED Ocarina of Time. Everyone did.

Which is why I loved this story from Reddit, about how Zelda saved one boy’s family:

“Growing up in my family wasn’t a horror story. I have a loving mother and father, two brothers, things are good. We never wanted for food or entertainment or clothes. But my dad worked a lot. He would be gone three weeks for business, then return for a few days, and then leave again.

When he was home, he was always tired. He didn’t spend a lot of time with us, and he was still working. It was hard to get his attention. Even as a child, I could see the strain that this put on my mom, my brothers, and the family as a whole. It was a rough time. Things started looking a little dark.

Then, my dad decided to make a change. We had an N64 at the time, and my brothers and I loved playing Smash Brothers and Goldeneye. My dad would watch occasionally, but never without some form of work to do at the same time. This was different.

He came home one day with a shiny new cartridge for a game that we had never heard of: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. My brothers and I couldn’t wait to play it. We almost tore it out of the box to get to it, but my dad told us no. We would have to wait till the weekend.

The box sat on the mantle, where we couldn’t reach it, as the days crawled by.

Finally, it was time. We woke up early and found my dad up already. Mom woke up shortly thereafter and we had breakfast. The excitement filled the room like golden rays of early morning sunshine. We drifted over to the living room and Dad got the game down. He plugged it in, started up the console, and handed me the controller.

“This is a one player game,” he said. “But we are going to play through it as a family.”

And so we did. My parents sat together on the couch, holding each other and guiding us through the games puzzles and fights. We didn’t play a single second of the game if the whole family wasn’t there. And no one could do anything else while we played. It was uninterrupted family time.

Later, I would learn that every time we played the game, my dad had gotten up hours before us so that he could finish the work he had to do that weekend, or he had gone into work hours early. My mom would have done extra work around the house so that my dad wouldn’t worry about any of it while we were playing.

My parents were closer than ever, my dad was happier and more involved.

We have played through every console Zelda game since then. In exactly the same fashion, with all the family. Now there are a few new people to watch play (I am married and one brother is engaged) but Zelda is still a very real presence in our lives.

Ocarina of Time saved my family from falling into a depressive spiral. Sure, it could have been watching sports, or participating in a local play. But it was Zelda. And I will never forget those memories.”

Isn’t that great? It’s like a modern-day Christmas Story.

The family that plays together, stays together.

Sign up and get Charlie’s latest books — free.

Fill in your email below to instantly get my best work. You’ll learn how I landed my dream job with Tim Ferriss, and how I overcame burnout and anxiety in one month.

Charlie Hoehn is the author of Play It Away, Play for a Living and Recession Proof Graduate. His work has been featured on NPR's TED Radio Hour, Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. Previously, he was the Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss. Currently, he is the Head of Author Marketing at Book In A Box. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Tell me what you think...