Video Lames

October 14, 2010

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Writing blogs comes naturally to me when I’m passionate about an idea, but for the past ten days I haven’t been inspired to talk about anything in particular. I always prefer to wait it out and write something decent than to spit out a crappy blurb about how boring my life is. But I digress, here’s some blog.

Much to the liking of my Bellingham friends and much to the chagrin of my UMass friends, I am a gamer. I absolutely love playing video games. Granted I play them infinitely less than I did in middle school and high school, but it’s still a habit, one that I’ll probably never kick.

My life as a gamer began in my childhood with the onset of the Nintendo 64. Eventually I moved on to a Sega Dreamcast, and then in 2001 to an Xbox, which is when I discovered my favorite series of all time: Halo. Boy did/do I ever love Halo.

It may help to put things into perspective if I admit that for the majority of my life I never had any friends. I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot of friends, I’m saying I had no friends. None. I didn’t hang out with anyone in particular at school, I never went over to other people’s houses, and I certainly never dared to try and meet new people. Only in my junior year of high school did I emerge from my proverbial shell and start making friends; so if I was 16 then and I’m 19 now that means I’m talking about 84% percent of my life.

Damn. I never even noticed how shitty that is until I looked at that number. 84%. Shit. Anyways that’s just background information. Rest assured I’m very happy with the friends I have now.

Under the circumstances I’m sure you can understand how a recluse like me could have easily latched onto video games as a means of entertainment: it only requires one person to enjoy it. I played a lot of video games because I couldn’t make friends, and I couldn’t make friends because I played a lot of video games. It was a vicious cycle, but from behind the controller it didn’t feel vicious at all.

What most people see when they look at a person playing a video game is pitiful: someone sitting on a couch, motionless, staring vacantly at the TV. Such an observation is understandable, but ignorant. The sight of ones body while playing a video game is deceiving, because every little bit of joy or excitement that person feels due to the game is totally in their head. It’s similar to the way a person might watch a compelling movie but appear emotionless, though to an even further extent. Playing a video game is like watching a movie, except you are participating as the main character. Your second-to-second decisions matter, and if the game is really good you’ll feel like you’re actually living in the virtual world. As the real world begins to blur away, all of the real world’s problems fade as well, and the only issues you have to deal with are “Oh shit this is a really sweet car.” or “Oh shit I have to kill this cool looking alien.”

Another thing most critics tend to neglect when they talk about video games is the thing that makes them so dang popular. The one and only reason people pick up their controllers is to do things that they can’t do in real life. Whether it’s driving the most exotic car ever conceived, blowing up a spaceship, or defeating an army of zombies, people play video games because literally anything is possible.

Grand Theft Auto is a perfect example, and a common one at that. I own Grand Theft Auto 4, and one of the first things I do when the game starts is get into a car and run over fifty people on the sidewalk.

Now, anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m not a violent person. I’ve never hurt a soul and I don’t have any sort of closeted rage against anyone. However, someone observing my actions as I play this game might be inclined to sign me up for some intensive psychotherapy. In the virtual world, however, the difference is in the intent.

What I find so fun about the game isn’t that I can murder people on the street; that would be a horrific thing to take pleasure in. What I love is the fact that I’m getting a free pass to do literally whatever I want with no consequences. It’s every person’s fantasy.

The video game is a platform on which people can forget their troubles and live their dreams at the same time. Sure, we may get lost in the worlds created for us once in a while, but what’s so bad about that? We’re certainly not doing any harm, and we’re having fun! Even better, the social aspect of online gaming has exploded over the past decade, and now owning a game console at my age is as common as owning a car. Half the time people spend playing video games is now spent with other human beings, whether it be online or in person, and I think we can all agree that that’s a step in the right direction.

So go ahead and tell me I’m a nerd for playing video games. I can’t hear you over the sound of my plasma grenades anyways.


One Response to “Video Lames”


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