Video games are more than entertainment, they have story and depth
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 23:10
Gangsters stealing cars, dealing drugs and blissfully killing pedestrians with a purple dildo baseball bat. Those are probably the least offensive gameplay moments in “Saints Row: the Third.” I can see why it and games like it get a bad reputation.
Video games often depict lewd acts of sex, drugs and in the case of “Brutal Legend:” rock ‘n’ roll. Despite all of this, videogames are part of an exciting medium. They have much to offer not only to hardcore gamers, but to anyone who would watch a movie or read a book.
On the other hand, there are games like “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” and “Fable” that represent the expansive and deep fantasy realms, immersing you in interactive worlds reminiscent of “Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones.”
There are classics such as “Mario” or “Tetris” that may seem as dated as the “Canterbury Tales” but are valuable in understanding the history of the medium. But there are also games like “Bioshock,” “Braid” and books like “House of Leaves” that tell their stories in such a way that it is impossible to communicate the story in any other medium. That’s right, there is more to video games then just violence and sex!
One type of story that works well given this medium is one where the impact is stronger if you invest yourself in your actions. An example of this is the puzzle game “Braid.” The protagonist is Tim, a normal man who broke up with his girlfriend. He spends the game navigating the world going from level to level and castle to castle in an attempt to save his princess from some kind of monster with the ability to go back in time and change one's actions as a central game mechanic. In the last minute of the game all control is taken away from the player and the consequence of Tim’s actions are shown. In that moment all of the work and effort you, the player, have put into the game comes crashing down around you. Because you were personally invested in the gameplay, the impact of the story is much more powerful.
Another type of story best told in game-form involves free will. In “Bioshock Infinite,” most of the game you are given the freedom to walk and explore as you wish. At critical moments in the game, you are forced to do horrible things. These parts of the game are to show players that, in this universe, there is no free will. When one is forced to enact one’s destiny, it is much more compelling than reading about someone else's destiny.
This is why I am asking you not to judge a story by its medium. Just because there are lots of violent video games doesn’t mean all video games are that way. In fact, games are an exciting new artistic medium to be celebrated.
The only reason that games have this kind of reputation is because empty, bad games sometimes sell better. So do yourself and the industry a favor this weekend: before you plop on the couch with a generic FPS, go buy a game with a great story.