Why I love Video Games
Well, My 26’th birthday has come and gone and I’m feeling introspective.
There is always that first moment, isn’t there? That moment when you’re experiencing something for the very first time. You feel a rush of excitement and wonder. You feel a wholeness you’ve never felt before. You think to yourself how awesome this is and now you never want this feeling to end. That was me at age 3, playing Super Mario World on the SNES in my babysitter’s house. Now my memory is a little sketchy when I go that far back but twenty two years after that moment and I still remember it like it was yesterday. So let’s talk video games.
The interactive experience
Let’s start off with one of the most obvious things about video games, the fact that they are interactive. I’m sure some of the people who might read this are scratching there heads thinking “Well duh, of course video games are interactive.” To those people I say ask what other medium has the kind of interactivity that video games have?
Only in video games do you have the level of interactivity and control that you do. Not only that but there is also the sheer variety in how you can interact in games. For some it’s as simple as running around and stomping on things. In other games you have whole worlds to explore, people to talk to, and secrets to find. I could probably write a separate article on just this alone. The player’s ability to interact with their environment and the characters therein brings me to my next point.
I love a good story. I like dynamic characters, defined worlds, good plot twists, I like all of that stuff. Video games can deliver all of these things as a medium of storytelling but they have a few advantages. Because video games are interactive, the way they present the story can be very different from a movie or a book. The biggest examples of this are branching paths, morality, and multiple endings. Branching paths are the oldest of the three (As far as I know) so let’s start with those. In games like Castlevania 4 and the D&D arcade games you have the option of choosing where to go after you complete a stage. Do you go to the town or do you take a shortcut through the swamp? From a storytelling standpoint, this changes how the story plays out. Another thing about branching paths is that you can go back after a playthrough and take a path that you didn’t take before, resulting in a completely different story. It also lets players go back after beating the game to take new paths, thus resulting in different stories.
Then you have morality, which has become a popular mechanic in more recent titles like Infamous, Fable, and the Mass Effect series. Morality affects how the game reacts to you and the choices you make in it. In Infamous, for example, you have a choice to make early on in the game. A crate of food is dropped close to you and a group of other hungry people. You can let the crowd take the provisions and help yourself to what’s left or you can use your newfound powers to drive the crowd away and take it all for yourself. Choices like these influence how the NPCs in the game treat you and thus it changes how the story plays out. The choices made by you, as the player, mean the difference between Infamous being a story of a man who uses the power given to him to help those he loves and those around him or the story of a man who takes his new powers and uses them to benefit no one but himself.
This brings me to multiple endings, something that no other medium of storytelling has. A game with multiples endings gives the player different endings to the game based on how they played the game. Each ending has its own criteria. This can range from collected certain items, completing an objective, or simply completing the game 100%. The endings themselves range from good, to bad, to silly. Anyone who has played the Silent Hill games knows of the UFO ending from Silent Hill or the dog ending from Silent Hill 2. Multiple endings give different conclusions to the same story. Not only that, but the ending you get depends entirely on you and what you do, allowing you to choose how the story ends. I’ve yet to see a book or a movie that lets you do that.
Another thing I love about games is the soundtrack. Without a good soundtrack, a game will not have the same impact. The best sound tracks have songs that fit the environments and the situation and leave a lasting impression in our minds. These songs can make us feel happy or sad, relaxed or panicked, angry or fearful. The game’s visuals shows us the world but it’s the music that helps bring the player into that world. Let’s take The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as an example. I doubt very seriously that this game would be heralded as one of the GREATEST GAMES OF ALL TIME if it didn’t have a good soundtrack supporting it. What would the final confrontation with like without that epic score in the background?
Another great example of a game with a good sound track is the indie title Dust: an Elysian Tale. This game would only be half a game without what I consider to be one of THE best soundtracks a game has ever had. I could just sit on the intro screen and listen to the music for quite a while before I even start playing the game.
Soundtracks are a big part of what makes our favorite games so memorable.
You are the Hero/Villain
Have you ever imagined yourself in a certain role? Have you ever daydreamed about being a knight in armor or a soldier on the battlefield? Have you ever imagined yourself with a magical wand in hand or massive plasma cannon? To me, video games allow a person to temporarily step into those very fantasies. When you turn the power on and immerse yourself in the world of the game, you become the character. You control how the character moves and fights, the choices they make, and how they interact with the world around them.
If the game in question has character creation like in the Dragon Age games, you can even put YOURSELF into that world and do the things that YOU would do if placed in whatever situation the game throws at you. You can be yourself in a world of fantasy or science fiction or whatever world the game takes place in. I love that. I love being able to immerse myself in those fictional worlds. To me, the best example of this would be Dragon Age Origins. Not only do you create your own character, you play though your character’s origin story. You experience the events that led up to your character becoming a grey warden and you still have the rest of the game to enjoy.
Why I love talking about video games.
Finally, i love talking about games. Entertainment media can be shared over and over between people who enjoy consuming it. Videogames are no different. As much as I love playing videogames, I love sharing my enjoyment of them just as much. I started my own blog for more than just developing my writing skills, but to share my love of gaming and the fun I’ve had and the fun I’m still having with them. I want my articles to reach as many people as possible. I want to share my experience and my opinions with people like me, regardless of age or background. If I get a read who know nothing about games but still enjoys my work, that’s great too. Now, I’m going to end this on a nice and cheesy note. There’s always that first moment, but those are some of the best moments to share with others.