As a video game fanatic, I thought it might be important to talk about why I feel the need to discuss video games in a serious, meaningful way. To a certain degree I think my reasons are the same as anyone else who has ever gone on for hours about the meaning behind Bioshock Infinite‘s ending or anyone who has ever found themselves watching videos of high-level competitors destroying each other in Smash Bros or Marvel vs. Capcom: we take the things we are passionate about very seriously and in a society that hasn’t truly accepted our love of “games”, we need the support of each other and our community at large to feel at home when arguing about what the game of the year might be or where you might find greatest characters ever created.
The video game industry and the expanding community it has produced are relatively new constructs. The games that have drawn in the masses and helped to grow our community were impossible until the advent more advanced consoles and computers and as such, most of the industry’s detractors haven’t grown up with the same experiences I’ve had in gaming. Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I can honestly say I’m better for having them.
Games such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, despite whatever flaws they may have, can convey a message in a way other mediums of art never could. A film may emphasize, perhaps, the sanctity of life but only a video game, despite the fact that it’s “not real life”, can allow you to hold in your hands the power to end it or spare it. However, from an outsider’s perspective, Adam Jensen is nothing more than a thuggish super soldier with a gravelly voice and an attitude problem and it is when someone makes that passing judgment that we have to stop them, not with anger or hate, but with pity and understanding, and show them what our favorite works of art can do.
That’s not to say that all video games teach that powerful of a message (heck even “Deus” was shaky on that one), but some do. While I don’t often hate on military shooters, they’re some of my favorite games, the sanctity of life is a message that rarely makes it past the front door in that genre. Perhaps, when it comes to those games, a better lesson to focus on could be the importance of brotherhood or the need to question authority (again, just broad examples). The point I’m getting at though, is that every game has a lesson to share. I don’t believe there is ever a wasted game. Even the ones we decide just aren’t for us can still show us something about ourselves or advance the cause of gaming as a whole.
As a lover of this medium I hope to make a career of playing and reviewing games. I do this in an effort to help advance the art of video games by attempting to review and critique games in the same way we do other forms of art such as movies or music and, in that respect, demand more than recycled messages and grotesque violence. Let’s see what video games can do. They have an unparalleled capacity to teach and guide, they can show us new worlds and show us things about ourselves we never knew existed. It is my belief that helping to legitimize games as an art form is not only the responsibility of, but also beneficial to, everyone who has ever fallen in love with our medium or even simply picked up a controller. Here’s the best part, all you have to do is enjoy the games. If they compel you to write (like me!) then write! If you can have long winded conversations and enjoy talking about the games for hours then, by all means, do that! Simply by doing whatever you have to do to continue enjoying good games you are showing others how much joy they can bring and how much good they can do. Let’s show the world what our culture can do.
-Jack of Couch Co-op (LimitingPanda)