I have a confession to make – I’m a gamer. I have been a gamer since I was about 15, got my very first computer and a floppy with King’s Quest. I know that I’m supposed to feel ashamed about this, like it’s some kind of disease or addiction, and I’ve also heard that playing games was somehow beneath the “true” writers…
Well, let me tell you that this is a lot of bull. And I’m not ashamed. I love playing games, and I don’t see how that is bad. In fact, I think that games help develop our creativity and imagination.
In our day and age, there are numerous ways to share a story with the audience, and the novel is only one of them. In fact, I must admit that I have encountered some of the best-told stories not in books, but on TV or in computer games.
In fact, I think that those stories stay with you longer than those in books, probably because in a book, you are reading about a character living that story, but in a game, you are that character, so you are living that story yourself. This is especially true for the MMORPGs where you start by creating your own unique character that grows and discovers the world, and eventually becomes important enough to influence it as well.
That’s why I wanted to talk about a few of the games that I consider truly memorable, at least for me.
I have played Baldur’s Gate (in all its incarnations) and Neverwinter Nights, but the game that remember the most is Planescape: Torment. I loved the story in that game and the grim, a bit depressing atmosphere. Imagine waking up in a morgue, with no memory of who you are and just a talking skull for a companion? Stumbling through this strange and alien world, trying to piece together your memories, meeting people who knew you before, and whose lives you changed, for better or for worse, and not being able to remember them? Yes, that’s Planescape: Torment.
Another game that still remains a favorite of mine is Final Fantasy VII. I have played all of the Final Fantasies, but the 7th one will always have a special place in my heart. It has a lot to do with the complex world and the engaging characters, but also with the best villain I’ve ever seen in games, TV or books. You can read my blog post about him, if you are interested. And I think that all the fans of Final Fantasy VII also need to play Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, which is kind of a prequel, telling the story of Zack, Aerith, Sephiroth and what really happened in Nibelhelm.
I am not a big fan of survival or horror games. I’ve never played Resident Evil or any of its clones, but there is one game that shook me to the very core and it’s Silent Hill 2. Maybe because the story behind it is not the usual “shoot them up” horror, and the town of Silent Hill, although full of monsters, is haunted by the character’s own feeling of guilt and regret. After all, you play this game as a man who received a letter from his long-dead wife and comes to Silent Hill to find her… And the soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka is the best I’ve heard in a video game before or since.
Another one of my favorites is Final Fantasy X. It’s a wonderful story of courage and determination, where the characters have to often make hard choices in order to save those they care about… I admit that it’s the last game in the Final Fantasy franchise that I liked. The rest of them were… not very memorable.
But all those games thought me something about how to tell a good story, or about how to create tridimensional and memorable characters, or that having a complex villain is essential for a good story. I am a better writer because of them, so no, I’m not ashamed that I am a gamer. I’m glad.
So, are any of you gamers as well? What games influenced you? Made you laugh, or cry, or pause and think about the meaning of life? Or just gave you a few hours of good time when you were so absorbed in the story, that the real world ceased to exist for bit?
12 thoughts on “I’m a gamer and proud of it!”
Yay, another gamer writer! Have you ever tried Bioshock Infinite? I’m sad that I came to the series so late, but the underwater city of the previous games didn’t appeal to me. But the floating steampunk city of Infinite? Sign me up! The story is so well told, and amazing, I keep going back to it. Same with Portal 2–crazy robots, and traveling through the history of Apature Science, decade by decade. It fascinates me.
I’ve been playing Minecraft lately, with the Forestry modpacks, raising bees. I’m borrowing the concept of bees that harvest magic for a story, so I’m playing the game and closely following the genetics of bee breeding. It’s so fascinating.
I liked Portal 2 as well. Haven’t played Bioshock yet, but I definitely will. I still have Dragon Age: Inquisition to try as well. Loved Dragon Age: Origin, but was bitterly disappointed by Dragon Age 2, so now a bit wary of this new installment.
I’m a gamer and writer as well, with no shame in my game. (Pardon the pun.) As a matter of fact, the idea for my debut novel came from a conversation in Dragon Age: Origins.
Unlike many, I didn’t *hate* Dragon Age II – there is still a good story hidden within the design shortcuts. Give Inquisition a try – you won’t regret it. It is a massive game and a definite improvement over II. (I’ve got 90 hours invested, and I’m not finished.)
That’s good to know! I might reward myself with it once I finish the first draft of Choices, which should (hopefully) be before the end of January.
I must be hanging around the right people because I never got an “I’m supposed to be ashamed of gaming” vibe. 🙂
Those are some great games you mention–loved Planescape Torment, especially the first part! And Final Fantasy VII of course.
Adventure games–Monkey Island, that’s a given. Loved the sword fights! And the King’s Quest series because it was one of the first adventure games I played (although looking back, being “walking dead” seriously sucks as game concept). Also the magical “Loom”.
“Another World”. Eerily beautiful. “Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy” for pure genius.
Metroid in various forms. Metal Gear Solid in various forms. Zelda in various forms.
I’d better stop or this comment will go on forever. 😉
Hehe, I know. There were so many other games I wanted to mention, but I had to choose those that really struck a vibe or my post would have been the size of a small dissertation. I mean I didn’t include the excellent Fallout series, and how could I have forgotten Metal Gear? Loved those games! And of course I didn’t even mention any of the MMORPGs I played and liked…
I’ve been a gamer for as long as I remember. I’ve never felt ashamed. I scream it from the mountaintops and if someone can’t appreciate that, they have no place in my life. Games are part of my life and I have no interest in pretending that they don’t mean as much to me as they do.
The Mass Effect Trilogy literally changed my life and how I dream of what could be.
My immediate family and friends all play games to an extend, so nobody shames me about it at home, but I have seen this attitude a lot in the rest of the community, especially the older people. I hate it when people tell me, “Oh, so you play games?” with that condescending little smile.. GRRRR.
Yup. I’m a gamer writer, too.
I’m a pretty light gamer, though. I currently only have a DS, a 2DS, and my computer.
Some of the franchises I love are Zelda, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Mario, Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest … I could go on.
My current obsession? World of Warcraft. It has a rich layers of lore and history, and I’m one of those weirdos that reads every line of quest text. I love knowing the why behind the quests, the story that unfolds around my character. Which is probably why my guild refers to me as a walking Warcraft encyclopedia. 🙂
Hehe, I have played WoW off and on since its inception (can you imagine it’s been 10 years???). I’ve done role playing, raiding, hardcore raiding, casual, etc. And yes, I read the story behind all the quests too, and I try to finish all the quests in every area 🙂 I have the Loremaster title to prove it!
Great post. You’re right, there’s some great stories in videogames. I’m a big fan of the early Resident Evil titles.
Most recently, I’ve been playing the Telltale Walking Dead games. Really good, especially the first season.
The new Dragon Age is well worth a look. Much better than 2. Full disclosure though, I work at EA, just not the Bioware division, unfortunately.
Several people recommended Dragon Age Inquisition to me, so now I NEED to give it a try. Just need to find the time lol.
I haven’t heard about the Walking Dead games, are they good? I don’t really like the “shoot them up” games with a gazillion zombies running after you.