Two experiences in games, games that I played at the dawn of my adolescence, have portrayed the concept of coming into adulthood quite well, perhaps unintentionally.
Warning: there are spoilers for the games that follow. Those games are Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts II.
|Zanarkand, as Tidus knew it.|
This all changes when a monster known as Sin attacks the city, swallowing Tidus and spitting him out in a foreign land. The land is known as Spira, a place that Tidus has never heard of. The most bizarre aspect of being flung into Spira is that in this world, Zanarkand is a city everyone knows as a society that was destroyed a thousand years ago. Determined to return home, one thing leads to another and he eventually ends up joining a summoner on their pilgrimage to Zanarkand, wanting to discover the mystery behind its supposed destruction and his appearance on Spira. Along the way, he is constantly learning about the land of Spira, its customs, its history, and the people who live there. He is very much ignorant of the world, especially of the hard lives that people face, and has to have others guide him almost every step of the way. He eventually does reach Zanarkand, and it is, indeed, a city in ruins.
|The ruins of Zanarkand.|
|Roxas, during his life in Twilight Town.|
In a twist reminiscent of the major plot revelation of The Matrix, Roxas eventually discovers that he is living in a fake Twilight Town, a digital replication of the real thing. His life was fabricated; everything he knew exists, but in a different form, in the real Twilight Town, without him. Roxas's memory was altered, his past life erased, and he was given the life he always wanted. In reality, Roxas was being used by Organization XIII, a group of criminals, and spent his days furthering their nefarious goals. His real identity, and his real past, are anything but what he thought they were, and far from what he wanted or expected from life.
|A glimpse of Roxas's dark past, where he struggles to find his identity.|
So, what does any of this have to do with childhood or growing up? Everything. Leaving childhood is a lot like entering into an entirely new world, with its own rules and values, much like the new realities that Tidus and Roxas must deal with in the worlds that they are thrown into. The scariest part of adulthood is looking back on the world that you thought existed, and realizing that this "new" world - the world of adulthood - was, in fact, the "real" world the entire time, with your childhood world existing as an illusion born out of lack of knowledge and childhood perception. You're left with the reality that you now exist in, despite never asking to be there, and you must find a way to cope with and accept this reality.
|Tidus reaches Zanarkand in the real world, only to find it in ruins.|