Sometimes the best things that ever happen in our lives come to us when we least expect it. I had no idea when I took a walk with my sister one random summer’s day I would soon create an entire world out of one little moment of musing.
Often times I begin to daydream without realizing it. It can happen at anytime whether I mean to or not, when I am in the company of others or alone. It can happen when I am in mid-conversation, when I’m driving, playing a game, or watching a movie. Just like that, quicker than you know, I am transported to another place, a place no one could ever find on Google Maps. I don’t question it; my mind wanders as it always has.
I’m not completely sure what year it was when this happened, but my guess is that it was the spring or summer of 2007. I started on a walk with my sister down our road, a country road in South Jersey, a road that wound through a quiet landscape of farm fields and woods. To me, it was Hyrule Field.
Ever since I played Ocarina of Time in December 1998 (when I was a freshman in high school) and became a diehard Zelda fan, my road and my family’s property in particular always reminded me of Hyrule. It appeared as though Death Mountain and North Castle could have been in the distance just beyond the horizon and all that was missing was Epona and Link. With all of this in mind, I remember looking over towards a string of trees that formed somewhat of a tunnel on the edge of my neighbor’s property and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if Link was an actual person and what if I somehow stumbled across him? What would that first conversation be like? What kind of adventures would we have together either in Hyrule or the real world? My imagination completely ran away with me in that moment and I could almost see him there among those trees in my mind’s eye. My eyes flashed with intrigue and a bit of my breath was stolen away as my mind began to ask more questions. What would it be like if a gamer were to meet their favorite video game hero in reality?
I’m not sure if it was days or weeks later from that first initial birthing of the story concept, but I remember sitting down on the wooden walkway made of planks in front of one of the woodpiles in my backyard. It was a cozy little nook situated at the forest’s edge just next to a shed that would conceal me from the sparse traffic of our road. A true introvert at heart, I snuck away from everyone and all the distractions from home and immersed myself in nature’s sanctuary allowing for a covert environment where my daydreams could sneak safely into the light.
The untold story of the gamer and the video game hero who were destined to meet came back to me, beckoning again in goose bump-inducing urges for me to tell its tale. I had taken my laptop with me; I was prepared for what would come next. I thought of various story elements and characters one by one, as they came to me at first seeming like random unconnected nodes, until the story slowly began to reveal itself to me as I ruminated over the possibilities. I typed up everything as I would look up into the sky now and then as I waited for more thoughts of inspiration to come.
There would be a girl, a gamer, who derived from a likeness of myself, but would become her own soul as I formed the facets of who she was. I was careful to make sure she was not me; she was my parallel, a gamer we all strive to be, the kind of gamer who would dare to have adventures beyond the controller, the gamer who has a spark of true heroism within. She would be the one who would apply all of the lessons learned from years of gaming and apply them to realistic situations in hopes she would triumph and survive.
Then what about the video game hero? He couldn’t be Link, most of us already knew Link and he was not my creation. My video game hero had to be a character that embodied many of our favorite video game heroes, not just one, but he had to be relatable and somehow recognizable even in his unique identity. He is my idea of who I would chose to save a kingdom if I had one; he’s the one who would show brevity in moments of darkness or decline. He’s the type of guy I would want to impress and show I could strive to be my very best if he were fighting at my side.
The backbone of the story was then formed with all of it connected to Ryujin, a character who would serve as the omniscient presence that would connect all the characters and their adventures. The specific details and etchings of the plot, the characters and the worlds they lived in would reveal themselves to me more so over time.
This was only the beginning. There was so much yet to discover…more than I could have ever fathomed.