Name and Twitter handle:
Chris Payne, @qixotl
What do you do now?
Senior Game Mechanics Programmer, Traveller’s Tales
Currently residing where in the world?
Favourite video game of all time?
Ultima Underworld II
What was the last game you enjoyed and why?
Skyrim. I have gone back to finish off the DLC, but honestly I could bimble around that landscape indefinitely going “Oooh, the Northern Lights!”. What I love about Bethesda’s work is the attention to every detail of the world.
Please describe any of the bullying you experienced
There was one particular boy who decided I made an easy target, halfway through secondary school. He would make a game of punching me in the arm or back with the teacher as nearby as possible, but looking the other way. I was often completely unaware of him until he struck.
When did you finally learn how to manage the bullying? How?
I think I mentioned it to my parents, who gave me what advice they could. But one day my mum was horrified when she spotted the bruises, and spoke to the head, who spoke to the bully. It stopped dead. He would still taunt me, but never laid a finger on me again. So in a sense I never really learned to manage it…just endured until it passed.
I don’t know why I never spoke up to any of the staff or talked more openly to my parents. I suppose I felt embarrassed, and that I had to figure out how to cope on my own, because I wanted to be grown-up and solve my own problems. Which was daft, because life is all about accepting what help you need and giving what help you can.
What effect do you think bullying had on you?
At school I was an eccentric loner who didn’t much care what other people thought of me, so I shrugged off most verbal abuse by the following day. At worst I would walk home fuming and thinking up scathing retorts hours too late.
But the physical abuse made me twitchy and paranoid, obviously distracted me from schoolwork when it happened, and would sometimes leave me unable to write properly. The bully liked to punch with an extended knuckle to dig right into the nerves of my upper arm. At worst I would get a literal red mist of anger and shame, but I always bottled it up rather than lashing out. I still feel that occasionally, when I get angry (very rare nowadays), but I’ve never acted on it.
How is your life better now?
I now have a wonderful wife and delightful daughter, which is the coolest. I’ve spent many years working on all sorts of great games, and made loads of friends at university and then at work. I have occasional frustrations, but for the most part I am obscenely happy I haven’t thought about the bully more than once or twice since I left school, and then only because someone else raised the subject.
Did you think your life was ever going to be this good?
I honestly never really had any expectations for my life – just ambitions, many of which I have now fulfilled. I knew that everything would change once I left school and took responsibility for myself, and indeed it did.
What would you like to say to a youngster thinking about getting into video games who is experiencing bullying right now?
Talk to your parents or teachers, because they want to help you, and they CAN help, even if the bullies don’t give up as easily as mine did. I recall that a term feels like forever when you’re apprehensive about something, but others can help you get through it. And pretty soon you and the bullies will part ways forever – and then, free of them, you will truly shine.