Steve on Games

“Those who tell the stories rule society” – Plato (not pictured)

I love a good story; I’m a keen reader and writer of stories. So when it comes to my games I like strong, narrative driven experiences. Action, adventure, horror, platformer, third or first person; none of these labels are as important to me as a well-crafted tale. To me videogames are as legitimate and relevant a storytelling medium as any other medium. In my mind they sit somewhere between a film and a book. Not as passive an experience as watching a movie, not as much internal world building as reading.

Now don’t get me wrong I’ve played (and thoroughly enjoyed!) my fair share of Mario Kart, Tiger Woods, Pro Evo, Burnout, etc, but my absolute favourite gaming moments have come, predominantly, whilst experiencing and participating in a “rip roaring yarn.”

Although this means I have a pretty broad range of preferred titles I could (relatively) confidently say that the Half Life series, the Resident Evil series – with particular emphasis on “2,” – the Uncharted series and The Last of Us (with an honourable mention of the Arkham series) are the games that I hold in the highest regard.

I defy you to find a book or movie with more emotional resonance than The Last of Us; with more wit, charm and swashbuckling adventure than Uncharted and…as many men in tights with underwear over them as the Arkham games. Games allow us to become another person and experience their story in a truly interactive and immersive way, or see through an unnamed protagonist’s eyes and really “live” their adventure in an undoubtedly singular manner.

Gaming should always, first and foremost, be enjoyed. I am unapologetic in that sentiment. Now I don’t want there to be any confusion here, I’m not saying they always have to leave us feeling happy and in fits of laughter. Games can, and should, frighten, exhilarate, confuse, sadden, uplift, entertain, challenge, move and enchant us. But ultimately they should resolve in a way that makes us feel that playing them was time well spent.   If you choose to spend time playing a game at the expense of doing something else and come away feeling worse, then to my mind that game is an abject failure. They should scratch an itch, they can and perhaps should be a healthy escapism, they should be an amusing hobby (and to the fortunate few perhaps even a “living,”) but they should never – as far as I’m concerned – do anything but enrich our lives at best, and give us meaningless but necessary release at worst. The minute that ceases to happen it’s time to find a new pastime! I personally find that gaming achieves this best in the narrative driven experiences but you may disagree…and that’s ok! I’m more than happy to debate the relative merits of gaming genres and mechanics in its myriad forms!

Hmmm. I seem to have – quite inadvertently I assure you – gone on a bit of a rant there. Not sure where that came from…kinda feels like I’ve been holding on to that one for a while doesn’t it!? Hmm. We’ll have to keep an eye on that. Aaanyway…

I hope some of you out there are like me. I hope at least some of you do not do “online multiplayer” or trophies. I hope some of you share my gaming passions and, ultimately, enjoy my articles. I guess time will tell!

Stephen Harris

Maker/gamer/geek/dad/husband.

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