Life. Not the cereal, or the "Game of," but the one we all live in. That life. It's a tough one, and sometimes, a little escape is in order. When stress threatens to take me down a peg or two, I say, "Hey! How did I get on this wall of pegs?" But in every other case when stress needs to be managed, I find solace, beauty and peace in the wonderful world of video games.
It is often stereotypically said that introverts like myself are keen on staying home and reading books. Well for me, I like to stay home and play video games. And also sometimes read books. (Comics count as books!) So what follows is me explaining to you -- my unabashedly attractive Oy! readers -- how in my world, I use video games as my go-to activity when I need some time to escape.
Warning: I will be mentioning specific videogame titles in what follows, so as to help inform you as to what I'm talking about if you are curious enough. And there will be links to more information about these games. Yes, it may require additional reading but reading is good -- like playing video games to some people.
Now please enjoy my abbreviated list of 18 five ways that video games are my books.
1. They can have amazing stories
I'm a different kind of gamer than most people think when I tell them I play video games. I love games where story drives the game. I'm the only person I know that plays Halo -- a mostly online multiplayer shooting game -- for its single player story (also called a campaign) and doesn't go online to play with others. I never do that. Introverts unite separately!
Anyway, a few of my absolute favorites are the BioShock series, whose story revolves around a man-made city at the bottom of the ocean and then a man-made city in sky. Then there's The Last of Us, a game set in a post-apocalyptic world that is not so much about the post-apocalyptic world but more so about the relationship of a 50-something year old man and a teenage girl as they come to fill a surrogate father-daughter role for each other as they go through a relentless and harrowing journey where they learn to trust and love again. See!? If you get me started on those games, I will never shut up. Ask my girlfriend of the torture she's been through. Which leads me too…
2. When playing through a good game, it's all I can think and talk about
Not only that, it helps me bond with others. James Bond, for those of you that played Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo 64 growing up. But it's true, because games take roughly the same amount of time as books for me (about 8-12 hours on average), I play them over a few days if not weeks. This gives me a lot to look forward to every day, knowing I have some stress relief and an amazing other world to keep revisiting once I get home.
But when it is a phenomenal game, it's still all I can think and talk about, even when I'm not playing it, like with The Last of Us -- that's a game I'd talk about at any given moment. Like this moment. You know, the moment where now I'm thinking about it and will probably have to play it again because it gives me oh so much happiness.
3. They are art
There has been a long-standing debate about whether or not video games are art. I stand firmly on the side that says indeed, video games are art. The visceral nature of them can be astounding. The storytelling can be a strong factor, but even games without story have so much nuance and precision in them that you can feel the meticulous nature that went into creating them. Visually, they are getting to unparalleled levels of realism. Many games use motion capture, or taking real actors and capturing their movements, voices and expressions with a computer and then utilizing all of that data to actually create the characters. It's astounding how beautifully rendered this can be. It gives me a sense of being fully immersed and experiencing something special that few other mediums can accomplish. I could probably write an entire article on why video games are art if I wanted to. Perhaps not the worst idea for the future …
Here's one scene in particular to show my point on how video games are art. It's from The Last of Us, of course, because this game deserves another mention. I cried when I first played through this scene. (Warning: Slight spoilers for the game and NSFW language) They were manly videogame tears, so it was cool.
4. They have unlimited replay value
Like a great book I want to read over and over, there are many video games I want to experience and play through over and over. This is because each time I will discover new things and take an extra moment or two to really dive deep into certain areas. Sometimes knowing what to expect increases that anticipation of getting to that awesome part even more. And you know you found something special when every time I play through the game, the experience is not diluted, but enhanced. Like every play through of The Last of Us. Not sure if I've mentioned that game before, but it's good.
5. It feeds my love of voice acting
I love voice acting, especially in animated form. So that obviously lends itself well to my love of video games. I even once wrote a huge list of 25 of the best voiceover actors out there. Sadly, there is no link. (That's a funny joke if you know video games.)
While I could list some many voice actors and the many great games you can hear their voices in, I'll keep it short to some of the pinnacle games I feel deserve an immediate mention. There's everything from the game Portal 2, one of the funniest games in existence, the Uncharted series, which is basically a modern day Indiana Jones, and really anything involving Mark Hamill, Troy Baker or Nolan North. So basically the Batman: Arkham Asylum series. Or The Last of Us, since both Troy Baker and Nolan North have prominent roles in that one.
The point of all of this is I love The Last of Us and you should all go and play or watch someone play The Last of Us. Or watch this, a cut together version of the videogame with all the story moments. It's only four hours!
Thanks for letting me talk to you about something passionate to me. This gives you a free pass to tell me something you are passionate about without interruption for about 1,200 words. Right after I go play The Last of Us.