Life As A Video Game

Please note: As with many of my posts on WordPress, but not all – Silently Screaming is a new piece – this one was written a while ago for tumblr. I am enjoying reviewing my old tumblr posts to see which ones to transfer to WordPress, especially as many of them, like this one, are still very relevant to me. Except for the fact that I stopped playing Assassin’s Creed III only a quarter of the way through because it kept insisting I craft things and do other very un-Assassin’s Creed type things. If I wanted to play a farming game, I would have bought one. I wanted to be an Assassin and kick baddies’ asses.

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Last night on Twitter – Use a video game to describe your sex life – was trending. It caught my attention because it was a quirky trend. A video game did pop into my mind. Not one which described my sex life, but one which described my life, or at least how I experience my life from the inside out. It’s an old game called Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and it had these sanity effects which caused the character to have hallucinations. The character, under the influence of distorted vision and bizarre happenings, would cry out ‘This can’t be happening!’ in an increasingly hysterical voice. It always made me chuckle, because it reminded me of how I often felt, and still feel. I never made it through that game. Hmmm.

I’ve just started playing Assassin’s Creed III. I love the series. The characters are richly developed. The scenery and historical elements are breathtaking, and there are moments when I feel transported into another time, place, and dimension. Which is part of the appeal. The gameplay is also excellent. This particular Assassin’s Creed has blended parts of Red Dead Redemption into it, another one of my favourite games, so I am all the more addicted to playing it. Although I do keep getting killed by wolves because my fingers insist on pressing the wrong buttons.

One thing which I’ve noticed about video games is that they are often very revealing of the psychology of the player. For instance – Yes, I’m going to use myself as a subject in this experiment – I prefer free roaming games. I feel most content with a game when I can go off and explore every nook and cranny at my leisure, sometimes even inventing my own little games within the game itself. I absolutely loathe having to accomplish something within a given time limit. It makes me flustered, my mind goes into meltdown, and panicked button bashing ensues ending in failure. If I can get away with not sticking to the rules, I will. Guidelines are welcome, hard and fast rules start to stifle my messy style of play. I’m not a big cheat, but I won’t shy away from walkthroughs once I’ve wracked my brain for a solution, and have exhausted all other possibilities. Myst completely mystified me. I adore solving puzzles, so admitting defeat is a sore point, especially when the solution is obvious and I was being too complicated in my thinking. I only use cheat codes once I’ve finished playing, unless it’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which has some very hilarious cheats, and they add to the wackiness of the game.

I have an amazing (for me) amount of patience when searching for hidden objects. However, I have absolutely no patience at all during missions, and if I fail the first couple of times I try to do one, the controller gets handed over to my playmate, and I leave the room in a huff, exclaiming loudly that the game sucks and I’m not playing anymore. Notice how I didn’t throw the controller on the floor or at a wall, that’s because I truly love playing video games, and don’t want to break the equipment just because a game momentarily pisses me off. I can always take my frustration out in the game itself. Which is one of the great bonuses of video games. You can cause all sorts of damage, create havoc, and unleash all the inner fury without any worries. It’s not real, and what happens inside a game, stays there. Just Cause 2 will never reveal the scorched earth policy I used many times over, and none of what I did ever leaked out of the game into my life or the real world. It’s like a padded, soundproof room in which to have a massive tantrum when one is needed, then you feel better, and can go out and spread some love.

I enjoy playing games with other people, taking turns, so that we can share our various skills. I hate repeating the same action over and over again, it sends my brain into a coma. Luckily one of my playmates adores doing that, and is very good at it. I get confused if too much is happening all at once, but, there again, someone else with better focusing abilities can step in and take control. I do occasionally play alone, but I eventually get irrevocably stuck and need someone to get me out of the jam. I do get to return the favour sometimes, which is very gratifying. Sharing gameplay is wonderful because you can watch the game and enjoy it from a back seat, seeing all the things you miss when you are in the driving seat. You just have to curb all tendencies to be a backseat gameplayer, shouting at the others that they don’t know what they are doing, and are missing all the important bits. If the game is really visually stunning I’ll occasionally pass on my turn just to lose myself in the beauty of it. But it is also very relaxing to lose myself in playing as a character whom I could never be, and wandering through a world I will never experience any other way.

I have actually learned quite a lot about myself over the years that I have spent immersed in games. My gameplay has evolved due to the observations I’ve made, and so has my lifeplay. The most intriguing crossover though has been how I view life. There are many instances where I feel as though I am a character inside a game, which has many levels, and many different types of baddies and goodies.

Moving up a level is so exciting, and immensely rewarding after slogging away for what seems like an eternity, stuck in the same rut. Then, after a small victory celebration and break, the whole rigmarole starts again, but with new weapons and abilities earned.

Baddies can be a pain in the arse, but they are a must. Lifeplay would be dull without them. And ninja skills need to be mastered for a reason other than wanting to win at Hide and Seek. One of the baddies which keeps respawning in the game of my life is the Control Freak. Perhaps I should not have kitted my character up in a leather jacket which has Rebel 4 Life stamped on the back. The thing which amuses me about the Control Freak is that one of the main things they are trying to control is my opinion of them. They want me to think whatever it is they want me to think, usually it’s how wonderful they are, but all they end up doing is convincing me that they are a through and through Control Freak. The thing which really annoys me about them is that they never learn. You’d think that after a few tries at trying to control me they would realise that it’s a thankless task, and go away. They never accept defeat, and they never change their tactics.

The goodies are brilliant though, and they make the journey through the game of life more enjoyable. Working as a team can be challenging, but in the end the effort pays off. Defeating baddies is easier, and when you are weak, wounded, and can’t go on anymore, there is someone there to protect you, care for you, and pick you up until you’re better. And when it’s your turn to carry a friend, they are as light as a feather because you carry them with the power of love.

So, for a bit of fun, which video game would you say best described your life?

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4 thoughts on “Life As A Video Game

  1. High five for Assassin’s Creed. The problem with open world games is they’re enormously expensive to make.
    Your comments on Easter eggs and hidden items have given me some food for thought.

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    1. You’re in the process of developing a game right? That’s what I gleaned from your WordPress. Hope I got that right. One thing I’ve noticed about the big games like Assassin’s creed is that sometimes the developers feel the need to tweak a game too much, as though they lose sight of how awesome the original game actually is. I think that if the game you create taps into the consciousness of gamers then it will be successful even if it is very simple and doesn’t have all the extra bells and whistles which some of the big companies can afford to add. I used to play text based games, like Zork, and found them very addictive, if a little bit annoying due to having to use exactly the right words to move forward. There was a very interesting documentary about independent game creators – Indie Game: The Movie. have you seen it?

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      1. No I’ll have to check it out. I don’t think anyone would pay for a text based adventure, most of them are play-for-free. Some things which raise the quality of a game require money, so a game has to be designed to make money in addition to being fun. However many muds and chat communities such as Furcadia and IMVU would be willing to pay for extra graphics after the community reaches critical mass. I’ve have played Zork, but I did play old-school Ultima games. Richard Garriott is my hero. My idea is to create original gameplay, then ask for funding for the better graphics. I plan to have an alpha after the first week of May to show people the essence of the gameplay. I’d like to say the product that comes first, but games that don’t sell end up being ruined when a larger game developer fish has to save them. There is a product quality/profitability balance that needs to be considered. EX: When EA bought out Origin Software. EX: When Disney bought Star Wars?

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        1. I agree, text based games are no longer profitable. Visual image stimulation is necessary. The main problem faced by independent game developers is the fact that video games are a very big and profitable business. The big developers don’t like competition. They tend to shut independents down by buying them out, absorbing them, or blocking them in some other way. Still, there is always a way. If you can tap into the collective consciousness of the moment, find something which will feed a need, then you can create your own path. The public has more power than big business, even if the public and big business think otherwise, mainly thanks to big business hypnotising us to think so. Many people play games on their mobile phones. A game which can be played on a phone already has a mass market, and a word of mouth advertisement. I also think keeping an eye on fashion trends is quite useful. We’re revisiting the eighties, which is quite mortifying (for those of us who have already been there, done that), but at the same time it might be an idea to tap into the trend. Perhaps the way to go with a game is to look at games like Pac-Man, and reinvent the simple yet very addictive video game. Keep the graphics simple, but the gameplay challenging. Thus, hopefully, it is easier to develop, and very profitable. And yes, you do have to focus on profit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality. It just means simplifying quality so it becomes profitable. I am very interested to see how you progress with this.

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