I was the emcee at another EtherLAN gaming fundraiser event, and while chatting with a friend I was asked why games matter to me so much. I opened my mouth, certain that an answer would come tumbling readily out. None did. This surprised me, and I found it difficult to come up with a good answer even while thinking about the question for a while longer.
I started to think that “passionate about video games” had been part of the story I tell about myself for so long that I had long stopped questioning why that was true. And then I worried a little that an honest interrogation of this part of myself would reveal…nothing. That games had served their purpose and weren’t really important anymore, and it was time to find something new. This wasn’t implausible, because I’ve spent time on a lot of things in my life due to inertia and not because I actually wanted to spend time on them.
I puzzled about this question for a few days, then flipped things around and decided to try a new angle. I was, of course, continuing to play at least a little bit of a video game every day; so I created a Google Doc and started asking myself “what do I like about this?” while I was engaging with something.
Here, in no particular order, are the results!
- I like seeing how technology advances. I like seeing what kind of graphics, sound, and gameplay things that become possible with each new generation of system. I like expanding my definition of what’s possible in the medium.
- I like seeing the visual styles of games. No Man’s Sky and Gears of War 5 have been impressing me lately.
- Feeling competent at something feels good, and games do that for me. It’s nice to feel “in control” of a situation, to feel knowledgeable, and to be able to tackle new twists in gameplay as they arise. I don’t get that sense very often from real life!
- Listen, it has to be said that I will sometimes use video games as a way to avoid things that are difficult or stressful. In Enneagram 9 terms (and probably elsewhere) this is known as “self-medicating”.
- I love games that let me explore and fill out a map as I go. Metroid-style games, or Action RPGs like Diablo are wonderful for this. Hollow Knight was incredible for rewarding exploration and continuing to open up new areas long after you think you’ve seen it all.
- I like to solve puzzles! Games have those!
- Games are exciting, and sometimes the chaos and thrill of a battle are fun too!
- Games can be relaxing too, sometimes!
- Lastly, games give me experiences that impact me or engage me in ways that non-interactive media can’t. Like the way Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons so effectively uses controls to reinforce brotherly bonds, or 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors drives home its final narrative twist by having you flip your DS upside-down. (It makes sense in the context of the game and a simple action makes for an incredibly powerful narrative moment). (Sorry I can’t talk more about these things without spoiling them)
So, yes, no longer worried that games and I have run out of things to talk about 🙂
Thing I Saw: Snippets of a bunch of horror films this last month, before declaring them too intense and stopping, or getting interrupted and just…never getting back around to finishing them.
Thing I Learned: ‘msleepy
I’m Grateful For: My birthday coming up! Every year I get to hang around this weird planet is a year I’m thankful for.