There you are on a Sunday afternoon, chopping trees punching sheep and building mud huts, few hours later you’ve been condemned to death by hunger games or something. Oh, the things we do for entertainment. If only the Romans with their bloody murder arenas could have seen us now. Perhaps they would have realized that maybe it would have been more beneficial to maintain a sustainable population of able-bodied men for that encroaching barbarian horde. If only they had picked up a game console instead of crazy uncle Frank’s issue of mutilation monthly when they were still young and impressionable.
But I digress. the point I am trying to make is, video games are weird. They are diverse. Incorporate a lot of variety, and are suitable for a wide range of audiences, much like your mum. But you, dear reader probably know all of this. I shall not bore you with my musings on the near complete, almost cathartic experience and sheer enjoyment offered by the medium. Instead let us take a look back at some of the older examples of the medium itself. Some of the titles that stood out over the past few decades. Titles close to my heart that helped me through times of grief, when all seemed bleak and meaningless, oh those dark days …. when I wallowed in loneliness …. I feel like we’re getting off track here. Let us continue.
Return to castle Wolfenstein, preferably with more munitions
Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a 2001 remake/reboot of the 8-bit Nazi-smashing, Hitler-killing Wolfenstein series. If you have played it chances are you still remember it. A most vivid mix of horror, adventure and action. Shooting up Nazis left and right, feeling like a proper badass. It’s one of the few games in the FPS genre that made you feel like you were in the shoes of the protagonist. You WERE B.J. Blazkowicz. An agent of the OSA showing the Third Reich and their beefy new Halloween toys what for, as you mowed down Nazis with mp40s, panzerfausts and what was essentially the secret lovechild of a minigun and the vaporizer from “Mars Attacks!”. A proper experience all around, fit for the entire family.
Prince of Persia and the international parkour community
Prince of Persia. No not that one the other one. The one that walled jumped to bed every night because the concept of stairs was something he could not comprehend. I am of course, referring to the sands of time series, the hack n’ slash platformer that dominated the genre in its time. One thing pop did right was story. Another was gameplay. Granted the passage to the loo being behind 3 spike traps, 2 spinning blades and a swinging log did not do much to maintain historical accuracy or practical sensibilities. But it sure was fun to traverse, when you had the athletic abilities of a highly caffeinated monkey in a banana farm. It was a proper saga, gritty, emotional and fantastic. Something that many modern fantasy titles could not achieve. Whimsy does not define fantasy, it is merely an element of it, and cannot constitute a story by itself. A fantasy story should inspire a sense of wonder and awe. Prince of Persia is a series that understood that and followed through.
Grand Theft of Automobiles and a shitload of one’s time
Now, we have all been stuck in traffic. We have all been filled with that insane rage, that desire to just get out of the car and break windscreens and bumpers and necks and limbs…. right? well regardless, freedom to do what you want instead of what you must is awesome. It gives us a break from the monotony of our existence, in a world where the expectations of society dictate how we should and should not live, forcing us to strive for jobs we hate or dreams we despise with blind obedience and I am going to stop this line of dialogue now before it gets more dystopic. GTA does this bit perfectly. It is hard to pinpoint a specific title in the series that lives up to this depiction the most. Nearly every single generation of GTA brought something new to the table while staying consistent to the action-adventure formula. It gives us a wide open world to roam around, to do what we wish and experience it as we wish. Plus, it’s fun to piss people off.
Now I chose to rant about these games in particular for a reason. They encompass some of the different faces of the gaming world. It’s not a complete picture, the advancement of technology has greatly expanded the medium. But at its core, a video game is meant to awaken the child inside us. The part of us that wants to have fun, to get lost in a world shaped by our imaginations, where we are the masters of our own destiny. Action Drama Exploration. Some dismiss the value of video games, chalk them up to be nonsensical. But it is exactly the unrealistic parts that define it. In this Great age of stagnation we brought upon ourselves, video games allow us to break limitations and revel in our dreams. Video games are weird, and that is why they are great.