With a few exceptions, I haven’t been into video games in a very long time. Part of that is, of course, being a grownup with a job and a family, which leaves little time for, well, anything. (And I genuinely have no idea how folks with jobs and families can devote the hours they do to these things.) Also, I am usually terrible at them, no matter what I do (with Tetrisphere and Tekken Tag Tournament as notable exceptions). But more to the point, I’ve tended to see them as a waste of time, even if they’re really, really fun.
I found a kind of validation of my way of thinking from video game developer David Cage who gave an eye-opening presentation to the DICE video game conference, as reported by The Verge:
“When you think about it, you realize that many games have absolutely nothing to say,” said Cage. “They’re merely here to make you have a good moment, to trigger some adrenaline in your system, and that’s cool.” But Cage stressed the importance of using content to create real meaning. “All real world themes should be used. Anything you’d see in a book or movie or a tv series could be used in a game. Politics, homosexuality… we need to put games at the center of our society and our lives. They should talk about people, they should talk about our world, they should talk about relationships, about society, and games can do that in a very meaningful way.”
“By the time you turn off your console, the game will leave an imprint. You will think about what you’ve seen. That’s what every creative medium should achieve.”
Similar to why I’ve soured on television and even movies, I feel like so many hours can be whittled away on them, and I will have gotten nothing back — even if the show, film, or game in question was fun or amusing or whatever.
But games in particular, they can give even seasoned players, what, 60-plus hours of playing time. Why would you want to waste such a powerful medium on just more shooting and puzzle solving? It’s not even necessary to fill a game with politics or a moral or what have you, but like any great novel or film, shouldn’t the story and the experience enrich you in some way, given all that you’ve put into it?
Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure what that would look like. I tend to look back on, say, Ocarina of Time or Final Fantasy VII as enriching experiences, but even they were more about the wonder of immersion into a fantasy/sci-fi soap operas. Where’s the Tale of Two Cities of video games? It may already exist, and surely my outdated experience would miss it. I wouldn’t have time to play it anyway!
Update: I thought of one that might count, Bastion, which I played on iPad. A game that was gorgeous, original, showed ambiguity about its (somewhat cartoonish) violence, and has a score and soundtrack that is to die for.