Name and Twitter handle?
Joram Wolters / @joramwolters
What do you do now?
Nowadays I have a bachelor in game design with a Master in Design for Digital Cultures. I currently pay the bills by raising funds for charities but I’m mainly involved with photography and videography. I am mostly known for my party and event photography and videography, and I am in the process of shooting two independent photography series for my own website http://www.joramwolters.com.
I recently moved to a bigger city and subsequently my social life has grown exponentially. I have always thought I had problems with engaging people socially, because I felt a deep fear in the pit of my stomach right before heading anywhere where there large groups of people. Living in Amsterdam now has rid me in great part of this fear, I know I can handle myself in social situations and that most people aren’t going to assault me for who I am here.
Where were you born?
In which part of the world do you currently reside?
What’s your favourite video game of all time?
No! Red alert 2.
No! Age of empires 2
Of all time? Really?
What was the last game you enjoyed (feel free to list more than one!)
Trine 2, Saints Row the Third, Magicka
Can you describe some of the bullying you experienced?
I have been bullied in many ways on a lot of different occasions. My first experience with being bullied was in the town where I grew up, Drouwen. My parents’ house was in front of the local elementary school, one my sisters and I did not attend. This, combined with the fact that my parents were not involved with much of the town life, ensured me and my sisters were excluded by the other kids in the town. Add to this that we dressed differently than most other kids, and that we had a large property was apparently reason enough for the children to throw rocks at us when we came biking home from our school.
Both me and all three of my sisters always took the long way home so we wouldn’t have to pass in front of the school so we could avoid all the children there. The few times when I took the shorter route because I wanted to be home earlier, I was often stopped by kids, who said I looked like a girl.
My second experience with bullying was at the elementary school I attended, which was in the next town over. As far as I can remember I got along fairly well with most of the other kids there up until about the seventh class. At the time I could not fathom why, but some of the kids suddenly started calling me a girl, or gay. I have always had long hair and I knew that that was different from most kids there, but I didn’t understand why this was suddenly such an issue.
Looking back at it now, I realize it was probably because I was pretty dominantly present and hyperactive. I kind of had a dominant personality and that probably didn’t sit well with some of the other kids who wanted to be the alpha males.
Being a bit smarter than most other kids in my class (I remember trying to explain the concept of sarcasm to a group of kids who were laughing because I had said “Oh yes, i just LOVE kissing boys”) probably didn’t help either. Being a smart-ass about it definitely didn’t. I did have two or three friends at the time and they, along with all the other boys in my class, played soccer at the local team. I joined the soccer club in an attempt to be found normal by the other kids, only to be bullied there as well, I quit after going there maybe three times.
I couldn’t handle it at all at the time and even though I was much smaller than my peers back then, I started beating up the kids who called me names. This only ensured that in recess everyone stayed out of arms reach when they called me names.
After that, in the first two years of high-school I wasn’t bullied as much, there were some people who tried, but a few fights solved that for me. Having grown up working in my parents yard a lot ensured I had more upper body strength than most, even though I was still about 20 centimeters shorter than anyone my age.
After those two years though my ADD-like symptoms made sure I was never in the same class for more than a year. It was in the third year especially that I had a hard time integrating with the class. None of the boys accepted my presence at all, simply ignoring me. I remember throwing a huge fit, screaming at the entire class how they were all dicks for treating me this way and running off to ‘never come back’. Fortunately one of the girls in the class came after me and invited me to hang with her and her friends from then on. I spent a couple of months only hanging out with the girls before the boys started to come around and accept me (most of them, anyway).
When did you manage the bullying?
Somewhere halfway through the third year of high school, when I started hanging out with the girls. It was the first time I was able to look at the boys’ social structure from an external perspective and realize how stupid its internal processes are. It was then that I found out that if there’s a group of people who won’t accept you for who you are, there’s always another group of people who will. My dad also disclosed something then what I will never forget. He told me that friends from your elementary and high school periods are probably not going to be there for the rest of your life. They are people who do not share your specific interests, they are merely people you’ve been grouped with at random. It won’t be until you go to university or when you start working in a specific field that you will find people with whom you have a deeper connection because of that shared interest. And he was absolutely right. Like I said I switched classes a lot throughout high school, and realizing that every relationship I had there was to be temporary really helped me deal with people who tried to bully me.
What effect do you think bullying had on you?
I used to have the effect that I was very violent towards other guys. The way for me to introduce myself into a group was to be obnoxiously physical and violent to others. I guess was a guaranteed way for me to make sure that everyone knew I was not one to be messed with. I did this well into my first year of game design, until I accidentally broke someone’s collar bone and I realized how much damage I could do to others. Inside I was still the 1,60m smallest kid in class, but on the outside I had grown to be 1,92m, weighing in at 90kg.
I think it was at that point that I finally rid myself of the last effects of the bullying, I decided to no longer fight, and I haven’t done any real fighting since, nor have I been as overtly physical.
The last remaining effect I think it might have now is that I still consider relationships with many people to be wholly temporary, once people are out of my direct vicinity I forget about their existence nearly instantly.
How is your life better now?
My life is mainly better in finally having found that group of people with whom I feel totally comfortable. Most of my friends are smart, creative, friendly, wonderful people. I now know that I have a certain amount of talents, I don’t need the approval of small-minded people.
I am mainly happy now that I no longer resort to violence to garner respect from people. I can’t remember the last time I hurt someone on purpose, or even when I got so mad that I had any desire to. I am generally a calmer, more balanced person now.
Did you think your life was ever going to be this good?
Not when I was being bullied, no. I generally didn’t ever think ahead, and so I was too focused on what was being done to me then to really realize that it was going to pass. I would never imagined that at some point it wasn’t even going to be all that important to me anymore.
What would you like to say to a youngster thinking about getting into video games who is experiencing bullying right now?
Teach yourself how to program C#, much more useful than having friends in high school in my honest opinion.
I wish I knew how to program C#. C# is so awesome.