Let’s make something clear first- I am by no means a good gamer. I don’t possess the gamer 6th sense if you will- that one that allows you to find hidden treasures and doorways that aren’t visible to the general layman.
But coming from a background that looked down on video games and the people who played them- I’ve come a long way.
To be fair, that was never my own opinion. I was raised by strict eastern European parents who placed academics and athletics above everything else. To them, playing video games seemed like a waste of time and talent. I, myself, have always been indifferent. I could see the appeal, but never had the urge to go out and invest in it myself. Until I moved in with a boy.
Chapter 1: Destiny
Now, this boy has obviously already had a childhood (and university dorm life) experience with various games. By the time I came into the picture, he was already on to the next big thing- Destiny. And so I spent my evenings and Saturday mornings watching him play, in lieu of TV shows or movies. That’s where it first hit me- there is a lot more story to these video games than I ever imagined. And that was just Destiny, a game that is often criticized for not having enough of a concrete story. Eventually, he convinced me to try it for myself. It started off small, asking me to find the exotic merchant who only appears in the game on the weekends to purchase specific items that he’d need. Then, I’d run some patrol quests while he was away, to hopefully help in picking up items and experience points. Before I knew it, I was creating my own character and starting the game from the beginning.
I quickly realized just how satisfying it was to make it through levels, to get a clean headshot, and have the ability to purchase upgraded weapons, armour, transportation…in the words of the great Dee Reynolds (from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)- “it’s like when I’m doing good in the game, I’m doing good in life”. And there was my truth.
Chapter 2: BioShock
Fast forwarding a bit, I come to live with another boy. One that was a bit more competitive and advanced when it came to gaming (I mean, he spent most of his teens investing his time in Counter Strike tournaments).
Once he let go of his CS days, he turned to other games, and fell in love with those with an extraordinary story- BioShock being one of his absolute favourites. And so to show me his world, he agreed to replaying the game (the entire trilogy), so that I may be convinced that there was more to video games than just headshots.
From the first minute that the game begins, the entire cinematography of going underwater, and viewing this entire city, nay, dynasty built- you know that you’re a part of something special.
You don’t have to be an experienced gamer to appreciate this game. The entire set, from the art deco to the background music just captivates you. It feels more like a story- like you’re part of a movie, and instead of viewing it, you get to interact with it.
While a lot of games will hold secondary quests that make it easy to get distracted from the main quest, BioShock keeps you linear. Every quest feels like it’s part of the main mission, and yet, you still feel autonomous enough with your decision- making throughout the game.
This game now has a special, nostalgic place in my heart. It was one of the best stories that I’ve seen in a very long time, and I didn’t find it in a book, or a movie- I found it in a video game.
Oh, and if you’re looking for one of the greatest endings in a story (perhaps you’re a Game of Thrones fan that is just salivating for one), look no further than BioShock: Infinite. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Epilogue: The Story-Teller
Perhaps you empathize with my story, but you just don’t have the time, resources, or energy to invest in games on your own. Well, I found another refuge where I can watch the story unfold, without having to lift a finger.
One of the great things about our generation is the amount of information that is available at your fingertips at any point in time. Once Youtube became relevant, people realized they could upload play-throughs of different games for others to watch. This can be used for informational purposes (such as if you’re trying to show where or how to find/defeat a certain challenge), or more often than not, for entertainment purposes. One such YouTuber that I became a fan of is Markiplier. He’s funny without being offensive, and I genuinely enjoy watching his play-throughs for both the content of the game, as well as his own reactions and commentary. I find myself laughing during horror games, and completely sympathizing with his gaming efforts.
Watching Markiplier gave me a chance to immerse in great stories that I’d never play myself (like Evil Within). It really became another version of binge watching shows, and every once in a while, there may come a game that I have to play for myself (such as Prey), but I will keep coming back to Markiplier whenever traditional stories no longer fascinate me.
So there you have it- a short history of how I became a novice gamer. Since the first round of Destiny, I’ve delved in more games, and have my own opinions regarding each one. But I will never stop being fascinated by the intricacies of each game’s level designs, the sets, the voice acting, the incredible plots. Creativity has many outputs these days, and if you take all of them- music, art, literature, cinematography- you’ve got yourself a video game.