A rant about…video games

I don’t really like video games.

I stink at them. I have a Wii. We have enjoyed playing Rock Band on it, but I’m not any good at it.  About 20 years ago, or more, I got a Super Nintendo setup. I played Super Mario Brothers, the game it came with. I really never played any other games very much. Then I got a Sony Playstation. I played a car racing game a bit, and a snowboarding game. Then I was done.

I have friends that work in the video game industry. That’s cool. No hate. I just don’t like video games.

When someone starts talking about a video game, part of my consciousness detaches from my physical form, hovers over the scene, and watches my eyes begin to glaze over, all the while monitoring the part of my consciousness remaining in my body to make sure I don’t rudely drop off to sleep. The extra-corporeal control consciousness makes my body say “cool” sometimes, makes me blink at appropriate intervals, and watches for the right time to get out of the conversation.

I think that classic, on-paper, role-playing games like D&D were my version of video games. Really, when I was growing up, most of the video games weren’t all that great. Pac Man, Asteroids, etc. Let’s be honest. Saying any of those are really “great” or entertaining is a stretch. Once you’ve blasted a few asteroids, maybe gotten through a few minutes of the game, you have crossed the line into incredible tedium.

I’m impressed with the graphics on modern video game, but it seems like a waste of technology. It seems like the games are still, all these years later, mostly about shooting people and blowing stuff up, with a little car racing thrown in. I guess it is great training for the military-industrial complex. I think the Shadow Government is really funding all the video game research, developing, and marketing. They trick parents into spending the money to turn their kids into future cyber-murderers.

Veering into conspiracy theory here, right…yeah…

As soon as I had to spend my own money on playing video games at the arcade, the video game fever subsided for me. There was no payoff. I didn’t feel self-actualized and validated by  getting my video game on. It didn’t give me the same sense of accomplishment that playing a Hobbit thief with a magic sword did. No comparison at all.

When I started this post, I thought I might make the “it’s a waste of time” argument. I decided to drop that. It’s a bad argument. Why? Because really, everything is a waste of time. Everything. Really. Regardless what we do in life, most of us will live, die, and in a generation or two we’ll be forgotten. The universe will go on, headless of our activities.

So go ahead and play a video game. Spend all your time reading. Whatever makes you happy. It matters not. Create your own meaning. If video games make you happy, play them.

 

4 thoughts on “A rant about…video games

  1. I sometimes feel guilty about video games. I have sunk a lot of time into them over the years; I was taught to spell on a home-coded version of hangman on a ZX Spectrum (my dad wrote it; it called me a pillock when I got a word wrong), and moved through every generation of home gaming since then.

    I think now I’m getting off the upgrade cycle, though.

    Video games can be an amazing, immersive experience. They can tell enriching stories and make you think. But more and more, I find the majority are, as you point out, mindless shooting experiences. The fact they’ve become a mainstream million-dollar industry in the last 10-15 years is the reason for that; you can’t risk spending the amount of time and money it takes to develop a game on an arthouse experience anymore, so these are becoming the exception, rather than the rule. There are still some stunning games out there; Heavy Rain, for example, was the closest thing to an interactive movie I’ve ever seen. It genuinely made you feel emotion, and not once did you shoot anything. Instead you spent your time trying to work out who was the killer, but unlike most games, you could genuinely make mistakes, and you could end up with a bad ending where the killer got away.

    Then there were the Fallout games; an immersive experience set after the third world war (which lasted 15 minutes; America and China sent nukes up, and that was that). Lots of shooting in this one, but such a rich story and so much to read (yes, read! In a videogame!) that I found myself lost in the world. The shooting was secondary to the plot, which was rare.

    And, of course, there are the Metal Gear Solid games; where the first was a cautionary tale of nuclear proliferation and terrorism (in 1999!), later ones have dealt with concepts of genetics, determinism, nationalism and the Cold War. The best thing about these, however, is that you can play them however you want. Mindless shooting? Sure. Sneaky infiltration? If that’s your thing. Cold-blooded bare-handed assassinations? Why not. You even get rewarded for never killing anyone in the whole game.

    The takeaway from this is that videogames are increasingly becoming more like movies (and, I guess to some degree, books); there’s some real gold out there, but you have to be willing to scrape through endless layers of shit to find it.

  2. I think a great deal of the most creative people these days are going into video games design. Much more so than movies.

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