You may have seen a few of the inspiring headlines that have popped up on video game sites everywhere over the last couple of days, describing the happy mail a mourning fan was sent from Naughty Dog, the developer behind the video game The Last Of Us.
The original post by Deadmanx132489 went viral on Reddit yesterday, and already has 4158 upvotes as of today. I’m lucky enough to know the fan behind this wonderful story, and his name is Chuck.
Chuck and his idol, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in the same “space” (yuck yuck)
If you haven’t heard the inspiring story behind this reddit post, it goes a little something like this. Chuck and his dad’s relationship transcended the real world: they were also video gaming partners. They’d spend hours playing Crash Team Racing together when Chuck was younger. Chuck felt so special knowing that no matter how busy his dad was, he would always drop whatever he was doing to play CTR with him.
In 2013, his father’s health began to decline, but they continued to play together. Since his father could hardly walk, let alone go to work, Chuck would play The Last Of Us with him, taking turns, into his father’s final days.
After his father passed away, Chuck wanted to let the company know how important the games were to him and his father. Three months ago, Chuck wrote to Naughty Dog, the developers behind Crash Team Racing and The Last Of Us. Their response was thoughtful, generous, and totally blew Chuck away. They sent Chuck a selection of limited edition The Last Of Us Merchandise as well as a heartfelt letter.
A snapshot of the letter Naughty Dog sent, and some of the swag. See all of the pictures here.
Their letter said:
Thank you so much for writing to us and sharing your story. I can’t begin to tell you how much it touched our hearts here at Naughty Dog. And knowing how involved our games were with you and your father is amazing to hear.
Stories like yours are the reason why we work so hard to make great games, and reading that The Last of Us changed your life is inspiring. When I read that you felt you were with your father again while playing it, it nearly drove me to tears. I can’t imagine the pain you went through these last several months, but I’m touched that we’ve been able to help you get through it.
Please enjoy these items being sent over for you. We hope you like them and hope your continued support of our games carries on. When you receive this, please send me an email with your shirt size, I’d love to send some shirts. Thank you again for writing in Chuck you’re a true inspiration for all of us!
Talk about Happy Mail. Chuck has been totally floored, not only by their surprising response, but by how much media attention that this has garnered. He’s been featured on PushSquare, MMGN, and Unilad to name a few. I had the chance to ask Chuck a few questions about this inspiring story, and here are his answers!
1. What’s your first memory of gaming with your father?
It has to be the picture that I showed you. I was around 2 or 3 I think and my dad was just getting into PC gaming. I believe it was The Duel: Test Drive II. That game to me made no sense at all because all you did was drive on one road and dodge traffic. My dad would mostly just the joystick and I would yell out “TURN LEFT!” or “WATCH OUT!”. After a while he would left me try the joy stick and I would plow into the first car I would see and he would sigh and restart the game (which in those early PC days took forever!)
Chuck and his dad, gaming together. Couple of geeks.
2. Who seemed better at gaming/always seemed to win: You or him?
We would play all sorts of games. Sport, racing, shooting, or random games like Life & Death and Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. I would say I was the better of all of those games but that is with me thinking he was holding back on me. Some nights he was unbeatable in Crash Team Racing and other nights I would crush him. Overall I would say he let me win everything.
3. Culturally, video games have had a bad reputation – from being too violent to encouraging social isolation. What would you say to people who feel this way about video games?
That video games are meant to be just that, video GAMES. If they were meant to be anything more than they would be reality. It is all about perception. The whole point of a video game is to take you somewhere and do things that you couldn’t normally in life. Some material may seem different to some people and from there they deem it to be dangerous. Video games should have a fantastic reputation and there are stories like mine that prove it. After all, in the world we live in today people shouldn’t be calling whats under their TV a weapon but whats in their pocket with their cell phones.
4. What sort of lessons did your dad try to teach you in life that you want to pass onto the readers of this post?
He taught me the value of life above all else. For his whole life he was sick and really wasn’t shouldn’t have live past 10. He had to make the best of what he was dealt and to look at life outside the box and not through a bunch of filters. I learned that life isn’t about your job, what your 401k looks like, what car you drive, or even the possessions that you have. We are here on a scrap of dust floating around space that took billions of years to form. And we are only given around 70 years if we are lucky to experience life.
He taught me to use this time to explore and do what makes me happy because I can’t do it again. I find myself always planning my next adventures in the world to do something that I love. I want to leave this life after doing the things that I love and not doing things the world thinks I should do to look normal. In short, he taught me to take me life and not waste a second.
5. How did you feel when you received the package from Naughty Dog, before you opened it? Did you know what was in it? How about after your opened it?
I was in my room hanging up a book shelf when I heard a truck stop in front of my house. I didn’t think too much of it because I do order a lot of things but I know I had nothing coming to me. After a few minutes I looked outside and the guy was walking to my door and I said out loud “what did I order now?”.
I walked down to get the package thinking it was for my mother but when I picked it up I saw my name on it. It was heavy so I was super confused on what it was. Then I found the “Naughty Dog, INC.” and my heart dropped. I had no idea what was in it! It took me more than 5 minutes to open it because I was shaking with thrill. I tried a pen to open it but it didn’t work and I was too excited to wait. I ran around my house look for something to open it with after I did I was shuffling through it like a kid at Christmas!
My house was around 68 degrees but I was pooling with sweat. My heart was racing and I couldn’t make phone calls fast enough to tell people what was going on. I was truly blown away by how random that was.
6. What’s your favorite video game these days?
By far The Last of Us. The attachment I have now with the game and how I can think about my father while I am playing it makes the game not just a game but a link to my past like no other. It is one of my dreams to meet Neil Druckmann who wrote the game and to tell him how much his game has changed my life.
7. Who is your favorite video game character?
I’ll lay off saying anyone from The Last of Us since its my favorite game but I would say Wheatly from Portal 2. That guy is my personality!
8. Mario or Link…. who would win in a fist fight?
Mario hands down. He makes a living of stepping on things so I will bet he can do well with his fists. Duck and move, Mario, duck and move!
9. At the IGGPPC, we always ask our geeky friends what their top 5 geek loves are – and that’s how we match them with their dream geek pen pal. What are yours?
1. Space! I used to want to be an astronomer and can talk for hours about space.
2. Psychology! I love to talk about dreams and am slowing teaching myself how dreams are interpreted by our brain.
3. History! I love learning about the past and can’t want to do travels outside of the country.
4. Research! This might not sound cool but some day’s If I want to find out something.. say… how mayo was invented? Then you will find me looking up every fact about mayo for no reason.
5. Video games. Last but obviously not the least! This is self explanatory.
10. What future plans do you have that your dad would be proud to learn about?
A while back on my facebook, I posted a picture of a room filled with computers geek stuff on the wall and I said something along the lines as “the next adventure in my life is coming true, stay tuned!”. Well he is what the secret is!
Chuck’s room where the magic will be happening soon!
A week or two after my father passed away I didn’t have a job and I was beyond heart broken. I knew I didn’t want to get back into the whole deal of searching for a job, getting hired, and then spend the next however many days, weeks, or years hating it and myself for doing something I hated.
So I thought I would do something that I love and give it a shot. To continue what me and my father did for so long I am starting up my own channel on YouTube! It is titled “The Lab“. Please subscribe to the channel, even though it has nothing yet – it will soon! Together with a bunch of friends I am going to have a channel like Rooster Teeth (Who are my idols and will travel to meet them anywhere).
This is about 4 months in the making. My future hangs on how well this goes when it launches sometime soon. (I of course will let you know when it does!)
We are so close to getting started that we just have a few more bugs to fix and then we are live! I want to make a living by playing games because that is when I am the most happy and I get to be reminded of where I have come with my father and where I can go which is…. anywhere!
Thanks to Chuck for taking the time to tell us this inspiring story about happy mail. Remember to subscribe to The Lab on YouTube! I know I have developed a new found respect for video games as a way to bond with people. <3
Have video games inspired you, or played an important role in a relationship of yours? Post a comment to let us know your story!
Do you have a story about Happy Mail? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us the tale behind the magic in the mail.