As gamers, we’ve spent the past five console generations slaying orcs, saving princesses, restoring peace and blasting our way through galaxies far, far away. It’s something that can bring people together, tear them apart and everything in between; but what exactly is it that brings us back again and again, sequel after sequel? Is it the ease with which we can now interact with actual people from the real world, or is it the ever-increasing fantasy violence? Or maybe it’s just the ability to obtain God like power within a well written story. What ever the reason, these games have brought people together from virtually every walk of life for one hell of a good time.
If you were to ask a die-hard “World of Warcraft” addict, they might tell you that they can’t hear you because they’re raiding. If you can get them away from the computer for a moment, they might also tell you that it is the open world that attracts them, as they fiercely scratch their necks and return to their virtual world. As a former WoW addict myself, I believed it was the fact that every day brought about all new quests, loot and story to transform the way I viewed cyber space that kept me coming back for more. Even if I couldn’t get my character to the next level before my body passed out on my keyboard from pure exhaustion, I came back for more because to me, this was an ideal world. A place in which hard work and determination could actually pay off and reward you at the same time. Most importantly, it was a place where you could make friends that actually do last a lifetime.
Others, however, seem to have a different approach. As any Pokemon fan will tell you, their love stems from a single player campaign that allows both you and your team to grow and transform as you move forward into all new territories. While battling with friends can always serve as a great way to show off your skills, the real reward comes from I seeing your Pokemon grow, evolving into majestic and unstoppable forces of nature. Though grinding, and the ultimate quest to collect them all can become tiresome, the bonds you form with these artificial beings can feel stronger than the ones you share with real people.
I, for one, still own a Game Boy Advance as well as my original copy of the red version and for some strange reason, still load it up occasionally to play with my now level one hundred Charizard and Raichu (I always thought Ash was stupid). No rare candies, no cheating involved, just good old-fashioned tender love and care over a twenty year period.
For some people, playing video games has been a life long endeavor. We gather at midnight to be the first to play a new release. We travel across the world to show up at conventions just to meet friends we’ve known for years, in real life for the first time. Even still, there is an entire audience of people who could care less about new gameplay footage for a game that won’t be out for two years (I’m looking at you Kingdom Hearts). Even more strange, is their abnormal amount of will power in their ability to wait a whole day in order to play a new game.
So, if not for the friendships and endless conquests, what is it that brings these casual gamers or part-time nerds to the market? Something is calling them aside from the fact that they happen to be home from work and want to forget about the office for a while, right? Well there is, and ultimately it’s the very thing that brings us, hardcore gamers, as well. We all want to be special; hell, we’ll settle for different, but in this world of increasing social divisions and the impossibility of dreams, video games create a space where literally anything is possible. In our cyber worlds, everything is about us, we are the hero this world needs, we are the ones who’ve slain armies, saved the day and brought peace to the world. This is because, any and all video game avatars aside, Mario would’ve never saved anybody nor would Lara Croft have ever raided any tombs, were it not for you: the player, and your incredible hand-eye coordination.
In short, in a dangerously imperfect world, video games allow us to live the live we want, in a universe we deserve.
(All pictures are used for promotional purposes only and do not belong to My Geek Review)