Sunday, June 4

Video games

Well, know that I'm out of college for the summer and living with my parents, I have the time and desire to actually play video games again. The most recent culmination of this rediscovered amusement was my completion of Hideo Kojima's excellent Metal Gear Solid. The game is simply amazing. The story, considering how much I already I knew about it from friends and the webcomic The Last Days of Foxhound, was still fun, the characters were memorable and, most importantly, the game was straight up fun to play, even if it was ridiculous how impossible to kill Liquid Snake was. So, what do I do after that? I post to my blog about video games.

Video games are an entertainment medium, no different from most movies, music and books. The two important differences, and the reasons I believe that video games receive so much attention as a corrupter of society, are that its the newest of these and it requires so much of a person's attention. When I watch TV or listen to music, I'm often doing homework or practicing juggling or (like right now when I'm doing both) posting to my blog, but these actions are impossible while playing a game. One must wholly devote themselves when playing a video game if they are to get the same enjoyment out of it as someone who has some music on in the background. As to video games being new, it's atypical for people and society to not fear what is new because they are not sure yets of its effects. While its hard to say that video games are new, seeing as how they've been popular since the 70's, their rapid evolution in terms of everything can easily keep people afraid of them.

Coming back to Metal Gear Solid, I believe part of the reason that it captured my attention so forcibly was that it was so cinematic in presentation. There were more than a few hours of dialogue via Codec, basically a video phone conversation, and cut scenes where the player didn't participate at all. Though the action was unique and the play almost resembled a puzzle game when players had to figure out the best tool or method to avoid enemies when all out violence didn't work, the story and characters were truly at the heart of this game. Which is interesting when compared to the big games of today. Grand Theft Auto, Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games like World of Warcraft and even The Sims are all about giving the player choice. Do whatever you want. They're open ended to a degree that comes close to real life. There's hardly even a definitive goal to pursue in these games. To me, these games I just listed are truly games. They offer an experience that other forms of entertainment can't touch. A movie may bear some resemblance to a video game, but it cannot provide the same level of interactivity. Comparing these to Metal Gear Solid, I think is fascinating. While video game inspired movies and recently become popular with the studios and so many of them have tanked (I understand that there are plans for both Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft movies) Metal Gear Solid will never become a movie because it isn't necessary. There's nothing to add. The game is already a movie, albeit an interactive one.

Some thoughts, perhaps less interesting than normal because of their less universal topic.

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