I have outgrown mindless shoot-em ups. Cradling a big gun in my hands no longer gives me the thrill it used to. I now long for a game that entices me with more finesse than the allure of a big arsenal, triple D breasted chicks and balls-to-the wall action. I yearn for games that are not only able to entertain me, but also challenge me emotionally and intellectually. I want games to take me on a journey and sweep me away because they strike a chord deep within my soul.
Dear Ester, my shrine of sorrow
It can be an adventure game like Telltale’s The Walking Dead series; where the player is confronted with gut wrenching personal choices in the setting of a zombie apocalypse. Or an exploration game like Dear Esther; where the player is but a witness to the sorrow of another’s tragic tale. Papo and Yo is a simple puzzle game wrapped around a story of abuse and betrayal. It changed my inner world with its persistent but gentle intrusion into the darkest recesses of my mind. Then there’s To the Moon, an interactive story where the musical score is the main narrator and the player is compelled to feel and allow the story unfold. It’s a beautiful journey about love, regret and having a second chance.
Don’t misunderstand me. “Triple A” titles can deliver a game that’s both immersive and fun. The Mass Effect franchise is a shining example of this. Bioware has given us a series incorporating the best aspects of multiple genres: role-playing, action and exploration. The characters we meet throughout our journey become our family. Their struggles are our struggles. Mass Effect becomes an extremely personal story and it was no surprise to see how personal gamers took the ending when it didn't meet their expectations.
Games like these are, however, rare gems and tend to disappear amongst the gunfire rattle of other AAA titles. The video games industry pumps out violent, mindless and shallow games because we, the gamers applaud these titles. The final nail in my coffin for a studio delivering a AAA first-person shooter with something more than bullets and superb graphics was Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The studio, Danger Close promised a game portraying the horrific stain war leaves on the soul and psyche of a soldier. All it delivered was a shallow story and a weak protagonist. Spec Ops: The Line at least succeeded in confronting the player with the monstrosities and complicated decision making processes of war.
We scream for more realism in terms of blood, gore and violence and we shun games that delve deeper. I cannot help but wonder, where this will lead us to. Questions like, are we condoning entertainment that desensitizes its users to the very things we vehemently oppose in real life,
and will the medium of video games ever mature enough so that it can be used as an interactive tool that challenges and educates and not only entertains?
Today I want to thank all of the developers who take the chance on gamers who want something ‘other’. You enrich our lives, you alter our beings and we are immensely grateful to you.
What is your opinion, do you think we need games to deliver more than a few quickly forgotten hours of fun, or should games stay in the arena of just entertainment? Have you played a game that touched you on a personal level? Share your thoughts with us.
To close of the article, take a moment and listen to Journey’s, I was born for this. It was composed by Austin Wintory and the vocals were done by Lisbeth Scott. Journey is one of the finest examples of a video game that speaks to all people, of all races, across all times.
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