The Case for Games

I'm a devoted gamer, I enjoy them because they stretch the imagination, immerse you in plot, and transport you to another world. Basically games are the next logical evolution of media.

Consider:

  • Papers engaged readers like nothing had before. Papers clued folks into the happenings of the community. They ended isolation, and allowed for vast inter discussion. People knew what was happening around the corner and around the world

  • Books rescued people from the humdrum boredom of their life, and the harsh realities of the paper. Allowed for unreal imagination and helped the reader discover the intricacies of their language

  • Movies were the immersion media of their time, they had the ability to squezze the vital juice of a book, play or story in two hours or less. They bombarded viewers with a wonder of sights and sounds they had not experienced previously

  • Television is a vulgar media, like the stupid cousin of movies. Chopping viewing time to minutes and subjecting you to unwanted ads, and weak story lines. They have managed to bring a small amout of the movie experience home though, and so I will list them here

  • Most people want more. When you see a good movie, read a good book, watch a great series on television, you want to subject yourself to further experiences. Relive the experience with others, and re-capture that joy of not knowing what is going to come next. Some go to far (ie Star Trek conventions, walking around dressed like Neo, etc)


PC Games give you the immersion that you can never have with movies, television, or even books. They allow you to control the choices of your characters. I've been playing PC games for 16 years, and they have grown unbelievably complex, but at their core is imagination. You can almost always approach a problem from different angles. One of the first games I played was a series called Kings Quest This games was one of the first games that transitioned from the text adventure to the incredible non-linear graphic interface. Allowing you to freely roam the world and do things in whatever order you pleased (within certain plot confines). As time progressed they just got better and better.

I spend a lot of time playing RPG's (role playing games). As the name suggests, you take the role of a character and use your strengths and weaknesses to guide your interaction with others, and what you can or cannot do. Some characters are strong fighters, some a thieves, and some use magic to accomplish their means, some good, some evil. Most RPG's are set in a Tolkien style world, rich with goblins, orcs, rangers, druids, and elves. Like any good medium creators of RPG's stretch their craft by placing players in space, in suburbia, even in Victorian England. With PC Games you can spend 30-100 hours of gameplay before reaching the end of the story. Most good RPGs have a solid driving story and dozens of side quests. They can be played over and over with different characters, and objections. For the money, they're the best entertainment ratio of dollar to hour.

PC games can also be a great social activity. Not every gamer need be an overweight, anti-social, geek (some of us are just lucky). I like it when we all get together for a RTS (real time strategy) LAN party. This is the time when you find out who your real friends are. Who will you make allies with? Who will be the first attacked? Who can hold out the longest? Who will drug your Mt Dew? The truly cunning will keep up the diplomatic relations all the while caching a deadly arsenal of minions and WMD's. I have plenty of male bonding stories that took place while blowing the tar out of a friend’s poorly guarded base.


I'll leave you with a brief summary of one of my all time favorite games. Arcanum is set in a Tolkien style world in the middle of an industrial revolution. The graphics were so-so even for the 2001, but the story captivated me in a way that I haven't experienced since. You can pursue magic, learn to build electric lights, steam engines, or molotov cocktails. Even the manual is written in the style of the game. As diary excerpts of an anthropologist exploring the contryside. (we spared no expense) I'm always up to try the next game and see how far we can go.

2 comments:

J Crew said...

I have to admit that I love console games, but since I have met you I have developed a love for PC games. My favorite currently is Empire Earth. That game is legit

kludge said...

A great game! There are few things as cool as a phrophet summoning a nice big helpping of doom on your enemies armada. I'm in need of some serious click counseling time.