Why Video Games?
Not only that games are art, they are the best form of it
I am 25 years old and I have been playing video games for 20 years now. I started very young and I can even remember myself playing Super Mario, Battle City, and Contra on my cousin’s NES (famicom) even before my first day in school ever. But my very first video game console, the original GameBoy, entered my life as a present on that fateful Christmas day of 1997.
And boy did I love video games from that day on.
Over the course of those twenty wonderful years, I have played and beat at least three hundred different video games. Some of them include titles from the timeless franchises gamers and non-gamers definitely know like Super Mario, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and so on.
There are also some very unfamiliar but memorable ones like Harvest Moon: Back to Nature and Legend of Legaia. And in the recent years, my favorites happen to come from the biggest video game franchises of today, the Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted games.
However, to be perfectly honest, three hundred games is not much. Someone is probably out there sitting atop his stack of thousands of video game cases laughing as he reads this unassuming sentiment of mine. Or one could have played more games on one single console alone.
That’s right, in terms of numbers, I have played very little compared to other more dedicated (hard core, as they prefer to be called) gamers.
As a matter of fact, the biggest video game collection that’s ever owned by a single individual, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is composed of almost 11,000 video games. That’s a myriad of games I don’t think I’ll ever play in my entire lifetime. Or even my next two or three.
Then there’s the older gamers from the 70’s and 80’s that’s definitely mumbling to themselves right now how naïve I am when it comes to games. Believe it or not, there are human beings at the humbling ages of 40 to 50 (I’ve met one online who’s 63) who have survived every dangerous dungeon and/or fire breathing dragons and are still enjoying every second they can afford spent on video games.
And because of their long tenure in the video game-verse, some of them probably hold the age hammer high above their heads ready to smash anyone who argues or just plain asserts even a little bit of scoop about video games of the old.
I sure wasn’t born earlier to witness the greatness of the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision and when Arcade Gaming was still a thing. And I sure wasn’t rich enough to buy every video game I laid my eyes upon since I could recognize letters or at least distinguish between red and blue. But that’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is I adored video games ever since I was a kid and continues to adore them up to this very moment.
And I bet all my PlayStation consoles that will never change.
Passion For Buttons
Each and every one of us has that one leisure activity that we will regularly do and be passionate about regardless of how it affects our lives or how society perceives us in doing it. Be it reading informative and important publications about business and economy, or watching awe-inspiring, tear-jerker movies with romantic or life and death themes or just play any kind of ball sport to keep us fit.
There will always be that one hobby that we will find reeling us in, pulling us to its center like it’s the most important thing in our lives. No matter how true the “important” part is.
And yes, mine is pushing and pressing the ups, the downs, the As and Bs, the three shaped buttons and the Xs and toying with the mushroom shaped analog sticks and so forth.
Describing it this way is deliberately immature. But truth be told, a significant portion of today’s society still views gaming as nothing but just a useful but meaningless distraction for whiny kids or simpletons or both or an obvious indication of one’s irresponsibility. For some they’re just plain waste of time.
That’s not to mention those who consistently research to argue that violent games have a direct influence in a person’s impulse for lust and violence. And then there are those who simply don’t care or take notice at all. But with the way I described gaming, it’s really difficult to see how it could be more than anything but a digital drug that will either do you nothing good or suck everything good left out of you (you know, how drugs really do).
And that I say is not only selling video games short, but is an unjustified retort that springs from the stereotypical afterthought of society when they think about what a gamer is.
Sure, mainstream video games started as mindless, arcade-y toys advertised only for kids or teenagers at best. And for sure there have been gamers who lived and died their short lives because they’ve played too much. They are the obese good-for-nothing basement junkies who did nothing but scream at their TVs when they lose their kill streak in Call of Duty or spilled their beer. Not to mention that they look like nothing less of zombies in a low-budget horror flick due to the sheer lack of sleep, workout, or social life. This is the image some people like to imagine when the label “gamer” is thrown out.
But what they conjure up in their minds are the lowest of the low, the people in the extreme bottom end of the gamer population spectrum. And for sure there are people like that in just about every other facet of human endeavor. Be it in the music industry, the Hollywood, our respective professional careers or just in being a human living on earth in general.
But of course, the gamers bear the flip side of the double standard. A bit unfair, don’t you think?
The Most Passionate Consumers In Any Industry
But if you are like me who have been faithfully following the video game industry even before social media and social networking sites took the world by storm, you know that these people cannot be anymore wrong. If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen how we gamers made our beloved industry more relevant like never before.
How video game franchises infiltrated just about every form of consumer product and merchandise and continues to proliferate.
And how a single video game title became the biggest entertainment launch in history ever, selling $800 million dollars on its first day alone. Yes, faster than every record holding multi-platinum record album, New York Time’s best-selling book or any of James Cameron’s two biggest blockbusters.
And it’s not just the business side of things that has moved on for the better. Even we, the individuals responsible for the propagation of the industry, have had changed personas as well. Gone are the days when video games were generally just for children below 12 years old.
Video game advertisements are now designed and mostly targeted to the demographic where young professionals belong. This implicitly means that the largely loose and baseless notion that gamers are just irresponsible pricks who can’t and don’t have anything to do for a living is being pushed aside, if not being thrown out the window, by the industry pioneers themselves.
And not only that, the passion for video games is what led and leads hordes of young, talented and eager engineers and artists alike to pursue a career in video game development.
A Truly Unique Experience
Video games themselves have tremendously evolved over the past couple of years. They have shown their most loyal patrons how the medium can deliver works of creativity in such unique and brilliant ways that only video games can bring.
Remember when video games were almost exclusively about jumping on side stepping mushroom-looking creatures or shooting harmless but annoying ducks? Yes, I do too. But the medium now is far more diverse from what it used to be.
Video games today can be more properly described as immersive experiences rather than over the top fun-filled flings.
Video games now present countless imaginative stories for gamers to be the heroes (or for some, villains) in or distinctive settings for gamers to explore and be lost in. Video game characters can now show very specific and subtle emotions through facial expressions and body movements to supplement the now sophisticated dialogues that are tailored for each video game’s narrative and art direction. And the themes can now stretch from the most light-hearted, save-the-princess, backpack adventures to the ones that tackle the most serious dimensions of human struggles with love, deceit and even murder.
Video games transcend every other form of entertainment simply because they make the conventional experiences immersive, interactive and absolutely fun at the same time. Let alone the fact that those experiences last way longer than your typical 90 minute movie about a scientific-experiment-horribly-gone-wrong-turned-superhero.
That is why I think video games deserve more attention, more appreciation but more importantly respect that equals that of any other manifestation of human expression of art and wants for entertainment.
Dear Player One,
If you loved video games since you were a kid too, show everyone why you think video games are the best form of art. I already wrote what we think. All you need to do is share it.
Your player friend ❤