So. Video games. I’m sure everyone either knows someone who considers themselves a ‘gamer’. Heck – maybe you are one yourself. Maybe you consider yourself a casual gamer who plays them every so often to escape your daily routine of school, college, university, work or whatever schedule you have for yourself. Or maybe you consider yourself one of the ‘true gamers’ who will play for hours on end on your favourite gaming console or playing with your created characters online via the PC. Either way, gaming is big, now so more than ever.
I remember back in the way where I would play on the good old SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) with my older brother and dad on games like ‘Street Fighter II’, ‘Super Mario World’, ‘Killer Instinct’, ‘F-Zero’ and loads of classic titles, or playing the original ‘Pokemon Red’ and ‘Blue’ games on the original Gameboy. During this time I remember Nintendo was the true gaming company that I remember myself taken in by, even as they advanced into the Gameboy Colour and Nintendo 64 days. But even as times went on with the innovations of the Sony Playstation 1 and 2, or Microsoft debuting their original Xbox games console, I remember being degraded when I was younger by some people because gaming was bad.
‘Oh, you game? Ha, what a nerd!’, ‘Loser!’, ‘Geek!’, ‘Dork!’, all the insults left me feeling sad yet confused why people didn’t like the idea of spending hours doing something that makes them happy. Maybe it was because gaming wasn’t considered a social activity during the time? I mean, sure, we have multiplayer and all, but not a true ‘social’ aspect is included with gaming other than a small circle of friends and family members who also enjoyed playing games.
These days, however, I think it’s safe to say there are a lot more gamers than there were, say, 15 years ago. This is definitely due to gaming being brought into the mainstream media now, due to the hype of celebrity figures where they may have appeared in video games, or maybe it’s just due to kids/young adults who grew up with games who have let their craze spread to their family and friends. And then their friends and family, and so on and so on.
An important factor to take into account is how ‘gaming’ is considered more immersive than it was during my youth. Maybe this is due to how advanced the graphics of gameplay and cinematic cut scenes have become, or how there are many different genres and art styles that appeal to many different people of different interests. For example, I am more of a RPG (Role Playing Games) type of person, who spends hours on end levelling up character skill sets and choosing my own path for them to take in the story. And there’s something critical to mention. In all the genres now of all the games, players who pick up a controller and actually play the game in front of them get to experience the story that is happening within the game, and especially now characters within the game that are created have become very relatable to the player so much so that we can form these attachments to them and want to find out more about them and how their individual story plays out. To me, this is how you can tell the difference between video games and TV and films.
Take critically acclaimed games from the last few years like ‘The Last of Us’, ‘Bioshock Infinite’, ‘Infamous Second Son’, these games and many, many more that I haven’t listed, heard about or played have reached a level of story-telling that rivals or even defeats regular cinematic movies these days. This may have to do with the brilliant actors that are involved with games like these. And yes I use the term ‘actors’ as these days it isn’t as much about making silly voices anymore, I mean that is still a part of it, but with the use of motion capture when recording the actual body and facial movements of the people involved in these games, it’s just become more about the acting than the voices.
But the stories of games these days can have massive impacts on a person’s life, like their actual social lives. Are you going through a tough time with a family member’s death? There are tons of games that deal with this in their story. Are you going through sexual identity issues, trying to figure out who you are? There’s just so much gaming provides in this day and age, people don’t really look at it as a curse anymore. If anything they actually award these people and the games that they play, you know with actual awards in the media and such. Actors who get involved in these games get comments about how the games they were involved in left major life changing moments that had helped people through difficult times. New content creators, whether they want to create video games, animations, or heck, there are even more video games being adapted into full-length feature films. They have been that effective to the world. These games and the companies that create them are leading the way to a bigger and brighter future, and I for one am glad to say I have been a part of this society from a very young age, especially seeing what it has become today.
Or you know, maybe none of this matters and you just like shooting stuff in your FPS games, or you like a good fast paced car chase in open world games. That’s fine too; this is how video games started and how people will always see them as well. Since you know that’s mainly what games are, something we play to help us unwind. So enjoy playing on your Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U. Your PSPVita, 3Ds, PC/Mac/Linux, or maybe your older retro consoles like a PSOne, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, whatever takes your fancy. For people of all ages, genders, races and more, this day is for you. Let us give a nice celebration to the past, present and future of video games, because this day is for just that.
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