Not my words, or the words of God... but the words of the next-best-guy: Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts - the fourth-largest games company in the world - speaking to the company's shareholders this week, via his diddy a-hole.
His puckering buttocks continued: "We believe games are the most valuable form of entertainment given their ability to fulfill those fundamental human needs. And I've already talked about the fact that games now are the predominant form of social connection for many of our players.
"We are providing challenge in the games we make, and people are growing inside those economies. In a world of digital content and user-generated content, we are providing self-actualisation for a great many of our players."
All of which might be the single most self-important quote about video games I've ever read.
But what does Wilson mean by "self-actualisation"? If he's referring to what I think he's referring to, it's a term used in various psychological theories to describe an individual reaching their potential. And it's a term that I'm very familiar with, but never expected to hear in relation to video games.
Come with me now as we venture forth on a journey into the wet, calcified crannies of my scarred heart, sweet readers.
In the quote above, EA's Wilson - a basketball - is specifically referring to the pinnacle of the Hierarchy of Needs, a theory proposed by the psychologist Abraham Maslow. Inevitably, Maslow illustrated his theory by way of a triangle, because... it's always a triangle, right?
The most fundamental needs for human survival are at the base of the triangle; air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, wees and poos to do (no, really), and sexy time (though this is disputed by some - and I'd be among them, for reasons far to complex to go into here).
Once you get those needs met, the next step on your journey is meeting your safety and security needs; having your health, a home, a secure job and finances, living in a safe environment with as few explosions as possible etc.
Tick those boxes, and we move on up the triangle to the love and belonging needs. These include real romantic and familial relationships, sexual intimacy, and friendships.
Then you get to focus on getting your esteem needs met. In short, your confidence, your achievements, self-respect, and respect from others.
If you can get all over the above fulfilled, then - congratulations - you get the top prize: self-actualisation! This is when you're reaching your full potential. It means different things to different people. Some may view it as being a great parent. Others may choose to express their self-actualisation through creative endeavours. Some play video games.
Basically, you can chill out, be happy, and focus on things you want to do, rather than need to do, without stressing out about everything else.
According to Maslow, self-actualisers are reliant on their own experience and judgement, able to judge reality and situations correctly and honestly (being particularly sensitive to the fake and dishonest). They have a non-attacking sense of humour and can laugh at themselves, experience profound and deep close relationships, have a few, close friendships, rather than lots of superficial ones. They accept their own flaws and the flaws of others, often adopt some sort of sincere humanitarian mission to help others... and so on and so forth.
We can, in short, start to enjoy life when we self-actualise, and live it to the full.
You may wonder what any of that has to do with playing video games. And so do I. Read on. I'll tell you what I know, and how I know it, and what I think Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson knows.
By the end of 2009, I was feeling lost. Much in my life wasn't working the way I'd wanted it to, and I wasn't the person I wanted to be.
One drama after another had taken its toll, and I felt battered and bruised, and was licking the bottom of the emotional resources barrel. My tongue was covered in splinters.
Little by little, the foundations of my life - the touchstones that had given me my identity - had rotted away, through my own lack of care and diligence, or the sabotage of others I had trusted.
Adding to the sense that I was drifting out of reach, my career felt like it had stalled. Three TV pilots I'd worked on hadn't been picked up for series, and I wasn't confident in my ability to keep generating script work.
The other jobs I'd had during my life weren't viable either; my graphic design skills were at least a decade out of date, and I was still reeling from what had happened to me as Mr Biffo.
No way was I ever returning to games journalism. Not in a billion years...
I had nothing to fall back on, and realised I needed to learn new skills; ones that could lead to a new career. Because, as we so often do when things aren't going right for us, we put the emphasis on fixing the wrong thing, hoping everything else will come along for the ride.
I chose work.
It kept me distracted from the real issues that were underpinning everything. I was floundering, flailing around to grab anything which might satisfy those needs near the bottom my triangle. Matron.
Browsing the local college prospectus, I found a Foundation Degree in Person-Centred Counselling. Therapy felt, at the time, like a world I might have something to offer. Oh, the arrogance of the flailing man...!
Plus, I noted, there were very few male counsellors, so I figured I'd have a better chance of getting a job at the end of it (I would later learn that the vast majority of counsellors work only voluntarily; there's very little paying work... once you add the requirement of their own professional development, therapy, and supervision - all of which has to come out of their own pocket - many even work at a loss).
It's bizarre looking back that I even enrolled, a mark of how desperate I had become. I can't quite return to the headspace which led me to that decision, but I think it was a combination of knowing the course was one day a week, and thinking that I'd been through so much that I could put some of it to use.
Plus... hey... I could tack a Masters onto the end of the course, and come away with a proper degree; something I was acutely aware I'd never achieved.
All of that would, I thought, fix everything in my life. And it did... eventually... but not in the way I thought would happen.
The first part of the course was an introduction to counselling; a few months long, and only a handful of my fellow students continued to the Foundation Degree course. They were mostly a brilliant bunch, and it's testament to them that they knew when to quit. Consequently, we've stayed in touch.
Sadly, not everyone I'd go on to encounter over the next few years would possess similar levels of self-awareness. And that's putting it mildly.
The degree course was exactly what I expected, and nothing like I thought it'd be.
We were learning about something called the Person-Centred Approach, based upon the work of the pioneering American psychologist Carl Rogers.
Unlike other talking psychotherapies, person-centred is the classic sitting down and letting the client talk about their feelings sort of therapy. It's not about giving advice, or strategies. It is, in theory, about empowering the client to self-actualise.
It isn't quite "Tell me about your mother", but it's not far off. At its heart was a set of skills designed to enable a client to move forwards, and a philosophy centred around three core conditions.
These are: Congruence (that a therapist is able to relate to the client in a way that is transparent and genuine, as a real person rather than a professional mask); Empathy (communicating an ability to understand and appreciate a client's feelings and perspective); and Unconditional Positive Regard (that the therapist accepts and prizes the client, no matter who they are or what they've done).
Working in unison, these three Core Conditions - Rogers theorised - can liberate an individual to express their true feelings without fear of judgement, that through this they will find their own answers. Obviously there was quite a bit more to it than that, but those are the basics.
And also... developing your empathy was the key. Some of us are better at it than others. Learning to listen to it, to hone it, is like getting a proverbial sixth sense. You instinctively start to pick up visual and verbal cues. Indeed, in therapy terms it's called the "felt sense" - and it is rather like learning a Jedi power. It's great, and terrifying all at once. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
Like any degree, there was a lot of reading, plenty of essays, and stuff in the classroom. Though there was much discussion about theory, a lot of the latter was hands-on; we were required to counsel others, and be counselled ourselves.
At least a part of every lesson was spent just talking about feelings. We had to get used to extremes of emotion from people, and our own reaction to those emotions. Outside of the classroom, we were expected to have therapy, and we went on intensive residential retreats.
Essentially, at the heart of it all, we were being torn apart, and made to face all those broken parts of ourselves, and give them a clean, or discard them so that we would start to function properly. Everything that wasn't working in our life would be looked at and dissected.
I threw myself into it with gusto. Others were more tentative, less willing. Over time I became frustrated that they didn't share my openness and bullish efforts to engage with the process. That wasn't always fair of me... but I still maintain that if you're not prepared to put in the self-development necessary to become a therapist... then maybe don't become a therapist, yeah?
Nonetheless, there were lots of tears, lots of fights, and plenty of hugging. It was, as you might expect, all quite touchy-feeling, and quite hippy-drippy, at times. Occasionally, we'd meditate - something I never found massively useful. Video games were - as I stated in class on more than one occasion - my meditation.
I learned a lot about what made people tick. I learned how to feel what they're feeling, even if they didn't know it themselves.
And at the same time, I learned to never think I knew someone's journey, their inner processes. The big secret is this: while much about humanity is universal, you can never second-guess another human being. You can't make assumptions... ever. People will always surprise you. How someone behaves is never because they're a dick, or an idiot. We respond in kind to our environment. If you feel attacked, or betrayed, it's too easy to perceive the whole world like that.
And too often what we present to the world is a mask. It's to keep us safe, or accepted. Something that surprised me is how often our physical body is a reflection of our inner experience. Someone who is overweight might be subconsciously bulking up to appear bigger. Somebody who doesn't wash might be trying to keep people away. Someone very thin, or hunched over, might be trying to disappear.
Only once we start to love and accept ourselves - to have the Core Conditions for ourselves as well as others - and not base our self-worth on the opinions and judgements of external validation, can we feel secure enough to show our true face, to be our true self.
The group dynamics were particularly fascinating. As one of the few men in the class, I found myself as the focus of much unwanted attention. Part of it came in the form of an unprovoked struggle with a male classmate who viewed me as a threat, and wanted to challenge what he saw as my dominance over the females.
You know: like we were all monkeys, or something. Yes, it was a bit weird.
Initially, everyone in the group was very loved-up with one another.
Looking back, it was rather cult-like, all of us swearing an oath to live by the tenets of Rogers' 19 propositions.
These would move us towards becoming a "fully-functioning person". Again, in the words of Electronic Arts' boss - that we would "self-actualise".
Few of us would make it. There were many casualties along the way. At least one of my classmates ended up in a psychiatric ward, and others were on anti-depressants. One was even on antipsychotics.
The process was absolutely brutal, and even now I'm not sure it was healthy, or that we were given sufficient warning of what it would be like.
That said, our class got a bit of a reputation among the years above us for being rather gung-ho, and really going for it in lessons. Which wasn't entirely true; only a handful of us were like that, and we dragged the others along with us.
Yet, if anything, the course seemed to breed dysfunction. Personality clashes revealed simmering tensions. Minor irritations would boil over. Prejudices would spike and be confronted. People would just get... strange with one another. The unofficial contract of confidentiality was broken repeatedly, by gossiping and unsolicited emails. And, in part, by this article. Boundaries that are vital to the counselling relationship were stomped all over.
Again, as one of the few men in the class - and the one who was viewed as having the broadest shoulders, both physically and emotionally - I often had a lot directed my way. Whether I wanted to or not I drew attention to myself. I was a safe target - I could take it, they believed. Over time, that spotlight wore me down.
I grew weary of the group dynamics, and started pointing out bullshit in the class. I'd pull people up on behaviour that they weren't even aware of, risking my popularity. I became more confrontational - something I have avoided being my entire life.
And through it all, I started to lose faith. And I came to realise that what drew me to the course was the same thing that had drawn everyone there: we were all broken in some way. We were broken people becoming more broken, so that we could somehow help other broken people to fix themselves.
There was a logic hole in the process that I was struggling to bridge. I started to see the entire theory of humanistic therapy as fundamentally flawed; focused too much on illness, rather than wellness. Too often - in the hands of unskilled therapists - enabling the client to remain a victim, rather than empowering them to move beyond it.
To be a good counsellor, you have to know yourself. Often, that can come through how you deal with adversity. It became all too apparent that the people on my course - including myself - were still dealing with adversity. The entire class, without exception.
Some of them didn't seem to want to get past of their problems; it was just too comfortable. They came to the course having been in therapy for years already. Week in week out somebody would play the victim. Somebody would be labelled the attacker. Others would leap in to rescue. It got boring, watching the patterns repeat ad infinitum.
Others simply lacked the ability to do look deeply enough within themselves, to understand their own feelings. I despaired at this; what were they even doing thinking they could counsel someone?! It felt like arrogance and ignorance. Some appeared to deal with it in ways that went entirely against the professional code - through drink or drugs, or relationships with clients.
I wasn't alone in getting worn down and weary of it; others in class seemed to realise it too, and occasionally voiced it. But often it was done in such a gentle way that it was wholly ineffectual; Unconditional Positive Regard typically became the only Core Condition for many, as they fought to keep a lid on more "negative" emotions.
The end result was that they lacked genuineness in their interactions with others. Or - in the words of Carl Rogers - congruence. They were hung up on being nice.
END OF THE YEAR SHOW
And these people on my course were - as we came to the end of my second full year - about to head out on placements, to help vulnerable people, who had no idea that the counsellor sitting opposite them was a trainee.
What made matters worse was that I felt the college was passing students who shouldn't ever have been let near a client. We were told that funding was under threat, and could only be maintained by ensuring there were enough students on the course. Even if those students could go on to make things worse for someone... The tutors, it seemed, were putting their jobs over the well-being of clients.
Throw into this my own first-hand experience with supposedly qualified counsellors - I went through several in a futile attempt to find one who wasn't entirely inept - and I lost all faith in the profession.
Oh, I could tell you some tales about the counsellors I had. In fact... I shall.
There was the one who sat there taking notes, even though we aren't supposed to, for reasons of confidentiality. I spent all our sessions wondering what he was writing about me.
There was the one who sat in a darkened room wearing jet-black sunglasses, because - she told me - she had sensitive eyes. And then threatened to have my children taken away by Social Services (no really) because she'd misunderstood something I'd said. Which left me in fear for an entire week until our next session - terrified that my kids were about to be snatched away at any moment.
The strange old man who sat in the corner of enormous room, as far away from me as possible, emitting nothing other than the occasional grunt and random, esoteric, questions such as "What do you see when you look into your own eyes?".
The one who asked me one week "How long has it been that you've been too scared to open the post?" even though I'd never told her anything about being too scared to open the post... Absurdly, I was so bewildered that I went along with it - and ended up being counselled for somebody else's problem.
The final straw came in the most unexpected way. Having told one of my tutors about my issues finding a suitable therapist, she put me in touch with a therapist she knew.
From the first session, I could tell that she was a step up from all the rest I'd been to. An art therapist, I enjoyed our sessions as much for the fact I could spend them drawing pictures as anything else.
Which was good, as - frankly - I was finding it a chore trying to dredge up some new, heavy emotion to analyse, week in week out.
I'd been seeing her for six weeks or so when my tutor asked me if I knew who my new therapist was married to.
Obviously I didn't, because one of the most fundamentally important things about the therapist-client relationship is that the client knows as little as possible about the therapist. Clients can project all manner of things onto their therapists, for all manner of reasons. Some therapists even remove their wedding rings, in case makes a client go funny.
Not only that, but a therapist should never have a dual relationship with their client. You can't counsel a friend, a relation, a colleague. Your lives should be as separate as possible - to the point of ignoring one another if you bump into them in the supermarket. Which happened to me twice.
But still... despite knowing all this, and knowing what I did for a living, my tutor told me what the husband of my therapist did for a living... and it transpired that the husband of my therapist was a very well-known sitcom writer. Not only that, but we'd undoubtedly been in the same room at some point, and it was more than likely our paths would cross again in the future.
One quick Google search and I learned more about my therapist - as a result of who she was married to - than I ever should've done. My tutor had displayed an utter disregard for everything we'd been told was vital to the client-counsellor relationship. It akin to a geography teacher insisting the world is flat.
Enough was enough. I told my therapist I was leaving the course, and that I wouldn't be coming to see her again. She suggested I continue visiting her for another six weeks, to ensure I finish properly - being sent out into the world without a proper ending to my counselling would've made my brain melt, or something. I was pretty confident that wouldn't happen.
Still, you can't blame her for giving it a go. I mean... I was giving her £60 an hour. Her enormous house wouldn't have been cheap to run, and her husband hadn't had a show on air in years.
The final tipping point came a couple of weeks later. We had a placement fair, at which former students came to discuss their placement experiences. I sat there listening to them, and just felt so disillusioned. To me, they seemed as ill-equipped to be dealing with clients as almost everyone on my course - including the tutors.
And including every single one of the supposedly qualified therapists I'd seen.
I was still dealing with a lot in my personal life.
The events which led me to retire Mr Biffo, a marriage break-up, work insecurity, losing my kids as they got older...
I knew I had to deal with all that, and running the gauntlet in every lesson - where classmates would project their own issues onto me - was too much on top of the rest of the disillusionment and angst.
I hung on until the end of term, when I was awarded my fitness to practice certificate, and chose not to go back for what would've been my final year. The certificate felt meaningless.
I'd worked my backside off, while others - who seemed utterly unsuited and unqualified, who had relied on the rescuing tendency of certain classmates since the beginning of the course to get them through, who had seemed to have learned nothing, hadn't developed as people let alone therapists - also got their fitness to practice. It was farcical. Not only that, I believed it was unethical. I was fuming.
It had been a gruelling few years. Like being punched in the face while trying to put out a house fire with a damp tea towel. And yet I wouldn't change a thing.
Everything I learned on the course I was able to apply to myself over the subsequent couple of years. I became cynical about therapy, but it had opened a door at least to me looking at the sorts of crap we've all got stuffed away.
Carl Rogers' Core Conditions - once they were in me - were impossible to shift, and I think I became a better, nicer, altogether more together sort of a person. I think. I hope. I mean, I can be a grumpy arse at times... but at least I'm alright with that these days, rather than trying to suppress it.
My life is wonderful today, and it's mostly because of that bloody awful course. And because of that, I've been able to bring Digitiser back. I could be Mr Biffo again.
Which is a very long-winded, very personal way of saying one thing: EA's CEO Andrew Wilson and his self-actualisation quote. Remember that, way back at the beginning?
Do video games fulfil fundamental human needs, as he states? Do they help you self-actualise? Can they take the place of two-and-a-half years - or more - worth of intensive, brutal therapy and self-analysis?
No, Andrew... no they do not. They can't help you self-actualise... but I'll give you this: they can be the cherry atop the triangle once you do.