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On Love

(or, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?  No, for I Spent It Indoors Playing Video Games.)

It’s no secret that I enjoy my video games.  But for me, many games inspire something greater than enjoyment.  They inspire love.  Not a creepy kind of love, but the kind that is moved by beauty and virtues to admire from afar, like some sort of gaming Don Quixote.  There is something very special about the artistry and storytelling of games, and when done well, it’s completely moving!

I recently started playing Skyrim.  Yes, I know, that came out a while ago.  I’m almost constantly broke, so I almost never get a game when it comes out.  Needless to say, by the time I got my hands on this title and started playing it, people seemed to have formulated all the opinions they were going to form about it and slathered them all over the internet.  I came to expect something vast and epic, though perhaps lacking some emotional depth.  After a slow start and some fumbling with the controls (first-person can be my utter nemesis), I was on my way.  That first majestic vista you encounter after leaving the caves; that breathtaking view I’d heard so much about?  It didn’t do much for me, and at that point, I began to wonder if this game was simply overhyped to the point where I could never fully enjoy it.  I spent a couple game days running around on beginner errands, for some reason perpetually drowning in fog and rain, and I was almost ready to call it quits.  Then suddenly, one evening as I was walking into town, the sun set, the moons rose, the sky cleared until it was scintillatingly sharp and bright, and a magnificent aurora borealis struck out across the sky.  The scene took my breath away, and I just stood there for a moment, looking up.  It happened so suddenly and without warning, and somehow it conveyed to me all the depth and vastness of this world I was about to explore.  That was the moment I fell in love.

oooh … pretty …

It got me thinking about what moments like that made me fall in love with other games.  Was it the first time I stood before the Great Deku Tree in Ocarina of Time?  In Bastion, was it the first time I touched the ashen figure of an old friend and watched him crumble to dust?  Did Final Fantasy VII have me by the opening cutscene?  It was this and more, absolutely, but there is always that first moment.  Something beautiful or tragic or humbling takes you, and you lose yourself in the moment.  Maybe it’s something you want to explore, or something you want to protect.  Maybe it’s something you want to avenge.  Or, maybe it’s something you just want to sit and absorb into the recesses of your memory.  Whatever the scenario, games present it to you like no other media can, and that is why I love them.

2 responses to “On Love

  1. Reading this makes me wish I played less quick, “pick-up-and-play” arcade style games, and actually sat down and focused on real “adventures” like this. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve felt the “love” you speak of since Final Fantasy III (or VI, in Japan) on the SNES. I mean, there have been games I’ve since been attached to from a story or sentimental perspective (Panzer Dragoon Orta on the XBOX, for instance), but none are quite as epic in the nature you speak of. I blame the amount time available on my hands. Or a lack there of.

    However, first-person games have a certain charm on their own that can make me “love” what I am experiencing, even if I am not experiencing it for long. I think that’s the beauty that the style brings, regardless whether it consists of role-playing gameplay, or your traditional run-‘n-gun fare. The biggest things that sucked me into games like Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament back in 1999, were simply the environmental features. They were a huge step up over what came just a few years before, and with varying advancements in texture techniques, I could simply run around in an empty map and stare at the environments for hours. They were incredible feats of advancement in gaming technology, and awe-inspiring.

    The perspective style (first-person) still evolves to this day, and I continue to be impressed with what comes out. Skyrim, for instnace, as little as I have actually played it (only about an hour’s worth), the environments after the main intro section are stunning. And Crysis 3? Wow. Talk about mind-blowing! It’s almost a shame I don’t have a strong enough PC to run the later.. 🙂

  2. This is so beautiful Lizzy! You know me, I enjoy games, but only have a Super Nintendo, so while I may not be able to relate to the graphic and story of such games, you captivated me with your writing. I want you to write a book and I want to read it.

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