So if you had told my 10 year old self I would even be writing this I would have laughed at you. An article about videogames? Those dumb things my brother plays with all day? The one with the guy who says “Get over here!” and skeletons that play football?. My 10 year old self can’t even with this.
Until I was about 19, I thought all video games were pretty much Call of Duty, Madden and Halo; shooters and facsimiles of real sports that offered little to no story or substance. Aside from some wasted childhood afternoons with Mortal Kombat and Mario Kart with my brother, I would never have agreed to sit down and play or watch a game of any kind. There was no appeal to me and the experiences I’d had with games when I was younger was neither memorable nor satisfying enough to ever hold my attention for more than 30 minutes. I most definitely never thought of video games as a staple or compelling form of entertainment.
Ham and Jammies
Then I watched Sean play Bioshock. I was instantly transported to Rapture; a place I had never seen but found myself desperately wanting to go. Populated with larger than life characters and covered in art deco visuals, Bioshock’s story was equal parts emotion and Disneyland thrill ride.
I was instantly transported to Rapture; a place I had never seen but found myself desperately wanting to go.
Since before I can remember, I have been in love with the music, the clothing, and the attitude of America in the 1940s. Because of this, I began ballroom dancing at the age of eight. Bioshock tapped directly into this love and my passion as a dancer. It was like a strange mish-mash of my childhood memories put into a videogame and I was instantly hooked! From the beginning bathysphere ride into Rapture (itself reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean, my eternal favorite); till the reveal of “would you kindly” (a phrase I still use to this day), I became very attached to every aspect of this world.
This game had opened my eyes to what a video game could really offer as a form of entertainment. Now, when I look back on it, I miss Rapture the same way I miss sunny afternoons in line for Splash Mountain, or spending the day at the beach with my family. I find myself homesick for a place that doesn’t physically exist.
CSI: Skid Row
If Bioshock appealed to the heart, it was Condemned: Criminal Origins that appealed to my mind. Condemned was the first horror game I ever watched Sean play and I can now never be around mannequins ever again. As an avid lover of the horror genre I had no idea the scariest thing I would ever see would be a video game. I actually yelled out loud and recoiled at more than one point. It really put you into the horror as opposed to just watching it. Having to make the decision to open the door or go down the stairs is so much more intense when it feels like you’re the one in danger.
I can now never be around mannequins ever again.
In horror films there tends to be a pattern. The moments in which you are on the edge of your seat, and then the padding in between. Often you are waiting for somebody to shut up, just so you can see them snatched by the vicious killer. In a horror game it’s anything goes. You have no idea when things could drastically change; for better or worse. Sean first proposed the idea of us playing Condemned by appealing to my affinity for crime shows like CSI and Law & Order. What I got instead is a life-long phobia of department store mannequins.
The game ended up being so much more and neither he nor I were prepared for just how intense the experience becomes. Condemned for me, spawned a love of the horror gaming genre. Without it, some of the most frightening moments of my life (Brookhaven Hospital anyone?) would have never happened, and for that I am thankful.
Skills for Kills, Agent
Crackdown was actually the first game I ever “played” with Sean. It changed my opinion on the limitations I thought video games had as far non-player involvement goes. My participation kind of happened by accident. Not only did I discover that consoles would let you play your own music (we chose Pendulum’s Hold Your Colour because it was a bit of an obsession for us at the time) but I saw how intense Sean was about finding those stupid little orbs. That’s also about the time I was made aware of achievements, but that’s another article entirely. I thought it was funny how many there were and how chaotically placed around the city they were.
We turned finding each and every one of them into a full game itself.
We turned finding each and every one of them into a full game itself. Armed with a large map showing every orb’s location (thanks to a huge fan with a lot of extra time) a Sharpie, and a giant pile of half-boredom/half-insanity, we methodically went through and found every last one. It was the first time we as a couple, and me as a non-gamer made an actual event out of playing a video game.
It was a really awesome way to “play” together without me fumbling with the controls. Sean would play and I would take the role of "navigator", telling him where to go, and puzzling out a few of the more difficult to find orbs. We had a blast and it really helped to develop our relationship and make us closer. Good job, Agent!
Knowing there are games out there in the same genres of my favorite movies and television shows changed my opinion on video games in a pretty drastic way. I honestly had a pretty low opinion on them, feeling they had little to offer other than gun violence and fake football. However the more games I watch and play, the more I feel that the artistic merit and entertainment value of games is vastly underrated. I know that unfortunately, a lot of people have the same low opinion on games but only because they are not aware of what is out there. It is not an easy, overnight process, and everyone’s experience will be unique. The payoff however is absolutely worth the effort, and all it takes is just one.
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