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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Monday, November 21, 2011

The World is Saved- Or, let's talk about video games...

Why do we play video games? I can't answer that for every person, but I think that I should at least explain why I do so. I think that the reason I play video games and love them so much is a reason that everyone can find a grain of truth in- maybe it's a reason that can be related with.

Anyone who plays video games does so because they expect the game to reward them with something. That might be an upgraded weapon, more experience shared with an online community, a powerful story, or the knowledge that you've mastered a game's finer mechanics.

The first time you play through a game, it's always the toughest. That's the best experience, though- that we are able to learn and overcome a game upon going through it for the first time, without any knowledge of what is to come eventually. That is why the usage of walkthroughs to complete a game for the first time is so abhorrent to me- if I'm going to get the full experience of a game I want to do it myself, without help. We go back to games and play through them again when we really love them enough- and it's always evident how much one truly enjoyed a game by how they return to it. People try to exploit the characters in RPGs by designing them for specific purposes. They solve puzzles faster and find shortcuts in platformers. They do what they can to get to the truly memorable moments of the game, because those are the things we love about them- the moments that we truly find accomplishment within. The easier a second playthrough is, the more passionate you are about the game.

Sometimes that accomplishment is simply the story- like in Legend of Zelda. Sometimes it's being able to do what YOU want, rather than following the path of the game- like Elder Scrolls. Sometimes it's just about being the best player in a multiplayer match- like in Modern Warfare. Sometimes it's being the player who helps even the odds against a massive monster- like in Monster Hunter. But it's always about satisfaction and accomplishment. That's why we buy new games- because, in the case of an online game, people are going to move on and play the next one, and you need to keep up with them. For the single player experience, it's the hope that a new chapter will unfold for characters we know and love, or that we will be introduced to new characters who are just as endearing as past iterations.

We celebrate games because they speak to us in a primal way- by achieving. Games that aren't hard just aren't worth playing because we have no drive to overcome anything that isn't interesting. Games that are cinematic are all well and good, too, but with a good video game, the player needs to feel as though they are doing the work- that they are in control and making their avatar do everything- we don't like scripted choices- we like the ability to make our own. However, dialogue choices are often a cheap way of insinuating this feeling.

In any case, games are meant to be played- to be won. To give us that comfort that we have overcome- we have achieved. To save the world, the princess. To win the match, to pull off that really epic move. That's what makes video games great.

Play on, kids.

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