Monday, July 11, 2011

the real world sucks

Lately I've been completely immersed in the unreal. Well, take "unreal" as you will -- for me, worlds of the fantastical and the long past have always been more interesting and worth spending time in than the "real world," and in that sense feel more real to me than any ordinary earth existence could. So, in normal terms, lately I've been hanging around in some completely fake, made-of-pixels, fantasy worlds that are more fun to me than anything reality could offer. And it is glorious.

Most recently I've begun exploring the world of Mass Effect. This exploration immediately follows a full playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins and three playthroughs of Dragon Age 2, both of which take place in an epic fantasy pseudo-medieval world. So the transition from that to Mass Effect, a futuristic space fantasy (yes, I'd call it fantasy over sci fi, but that's debatable), was an abrupt one. That said, I'm finding myself completely at ease in this new world of high-speed transportation, slow elevators, and spaceships-as-cities. It was an immediate attraction, an almost drunken stagger of lust into this new world's arms, spurred primarily by the music on the game's main menu screen. From that moment, I knew this was going to be a beautiful foray into the truly spacey and fabulous.

Anyway, I digress -- kinda. This isn't a review of a game or anything; it's a review of the feelings that arise when I game. I feel wrong just calling it "gaming," because it's always more than that for me (well, sometimes it is just about gaming, when playing Tetris or Peggle for example, but it's actually impossible for those games to be much more than colorful shapes and balls bouncing around)-- it's an immersion into a story, another world, where the life of another person (or persons) becomes my own. Their history becomes my history, their worries are taken on as my own, and their life goals become as important to me as if they were part of my earth-bound existence.

When I was younger, around my early teen years, it seemed like everything I indulged in -- be it books, movies, games, or tv shows -- spoke to me on a deep emotional level, something that can't be described in words, especially not on this blog such as it is. Most of my favorite books of all time were read while I was a young teenager, books that could never impact me now the way they impacted me then. So when I discover something now that can affect me even a fraction as acutely as books and stories used to when I was younger, it means the world to me. That's one of the reasons I love Doctor Who so much, because it reaches me on a fundamental level that very few things reach in me these days. I really miss that feeling, the feeling that everything I took in meant something and would always mean something, and I feel like I've spent my life looking for the thing that will give that feeling to me, again and again, without diminishing returns. The Lord of the Rings is one of the things that makes me cry every time I read it or watch the movies, because I remember what it was like to feel it so deeply in my bones that it hurt. Nothing ever affects me like that story, and I doubt anything ever will.

What I love about Mass Effect, then, from literally like... the hour I've spent playing (I just started!), is that it appeals to the part of me that feels things like younger Meg used to feel. The music, Citadel, the fantastic space opera-ness of it all... it's magic. It makes me feel wonder again, like I'm about to embark on an epic adventure into the unknown. It excites me. And while that adventure may not be "real," by the definition of the term, it feels more real to me than anything I can touch in the physical world. So for me, it's real enough.


Jenni Wells said...

I feel the same way about how things just don't affect you the way they once did. When I was in high school I would spend hours and hours discovering new bands and books. Now, my husband shows me all the new bands I like. As far as books go, I get suggestions from friends. I'm not sure if it's the lack of time or energy but it's upsetting.

If you're looking for a couple of new books that I can promise will give you an emotional reaction I would strongly recommend Running With Scissors by August Burroughs and Just Kids by Patti Smith. Both are the best books I have read in the last couple of years; Just Kids being the best book I’ve ever read.

RogueLieutenant said...

This is a wonderful post! I enjoyed reading it.

I know exactly what you mean! I love to let games take me over emotionally, books and movies too, but games more than anything else.

I have two posts of my own about this:

(The latter is about DA2.) ;)

I'm also so excited for you! You're just starting Mass Effect! The Mass Effect series is my all time favorite game! (I consider it all one game)

I even have a Shepard and Tali figures, and much more nerdiness.

If you love the games, you need to read the books too. ;)

I'm just so excited for you, and jealous that you're getting to experience the rich worlds and wonderful characters for the first time!

I look forward to reading more from you!

-Joe aka RogueLieutenant

Whimsical Wolf said...

I have no idea where to start other than to say that I really connected to this post. I feel so lucky to be growing up in a time where games are finally being taken seriously, where I've grown up alongside them. I really can't imagine my life without games. I don't play them just for fun, but because I get to connect and escape into another fantastic world. It's actually why I'm now taking a games art and design course at university.

I completed Dragonage 2 last night and am already playing again, this time as a mage and not a rogue :P Mass Effect is also one of my favourite series and I'm really looking forward to the 3rd and final game in the trilogy! I love how Bioware has made 2 series of RPGs that are complete opposites: one in space and the other in a fantasy medieval universe <3

I could waffle on about my love for games forever. If you life fantasy RPGs then I suggest Elder Scrolls: IV: Oblivion. It's old now but a classic, and Skyrim is coming out soon! Happy gaming! x

sparkle is a color (Katrina) said...

I totally get the feeling you are describing. I love to be able to completely lose myself in something. Then I get in a funk when it's "over" (I finish the book or a game, for instance. I just got the feeling, although not as intensely as I have for other things, with the Hunger Games books. I finished them weeks ago and they're still effecting me.

And as lame as it seems, Harry Potter is what gives me that deep, bone aching feeling. I just love those lil' wizards.

Amber Blue Bird said...

I wish i was better at gaming. I just cant get the hang of it. I do play the Sims a lot (especially the new Medieval game) and can get quite involved in the lives of my pretend family.

Sydney, The Rabbit-Hearted Girl said...

i like this. i'm not a gamer, but this is how i feel about harry potter. nothing else has affected me the way that series has. the characters and places feel so real to me, and i feel so connected with all of them on such a deep level. and it's all over :(