Saturday, April 5, 2014

Back in the Game

I spent the great majority of today gaming. It was a day very well spent. On Thursday evening I finally bit the bullet and bought myself an Xbox 360. My old one belonged to both Greg and me, and he ended up keeping it, so I've been without my beloved games for almost eight months. I'm not such an avid gamer that a console or a gaming PC are absolutely necessary for me. A laptop, internet, a smartphone, and a Spotify account are pretty much my only true necessities. But lately the ache for video games has grown particularly strong, and since I'd been devoting all of my daydreams for several weeks to fantasizing about Dragon Age and WoW and even Yoshi's Story from back in the day, and since I had the money, I decided to finally just do it. 

I'm so glad I did. I set it all up last night. I had to buy an HDMI cord because of course it didn't come included with the console, an extension cord and a power strip, and a set of headphones because I couldn't find the right adapter to connect my speakers to my Xbox (which I've since had to order from Amazon, wah, get here already tiny adapter). Instead of a TV I'm using my PC monitor, which had until yesterday been in its box in my room, taking up space. It's only 24", but I set it up so that it's basically right in my face so I can pretend it's bigger. It has an HDMI connection, though, which is ace, and the game looks gorgeous on it. I woke up this morning, took Lyall on a little walk, made coffee, and spent the next eight hours happily in another world.

Rambling on about video games in my blog isn't new for me. Sorry to yammer at you, again, about how great I think gaming is. Probably the best way to put it, at least in terms of why I personally love video games so much, is something I tweeted the other night: "I feel like playing a video game can be one of the most intimate & engrossing ways to experience a story. Much more than film or TV." (Hahaha yeahhh I just quoted myself shut up.)

I mean, it depends on which game you're playing, obviously, but to me the best thing about gaming is the combination of the fun of playing a game, while being told a story. Sometimes you decide how the protagonist reacts to things, and sometimes you decide how the story unfolds. Even when you're just along for the ride, it's just such a rich way to tell a story. In my opinion it's second only to reading a book in terms of experiencing a narrative in an emotionally fulfilling way. And that's only because with books, your imagination does all the work; an imagination doesn't have limits. But there are often times when a video game achieves what a book never could, and that's the level of control a gamer has over the story. There are some things that the written word could never get across properly, that only a visual medium can. It's just... I could go on and on about why video games are so important to me, and so important to the world of art. Nobody judges a person for spending most of their free time reading a book, but as soon as you tell somebody you've spent all weekend playing a video game, it's a different reaction. Video games are art. And they're important.

The game I'm playing right now is BioShock Infinite. It's... well, let's just say I'm super upset that nobody had told me about this game until very recently. I had heard of it, obviously, and I think I knew it had a vaguely steampunk feel to it, but for some reason I'd never looked into it further. But one of my coworkers was recently telling me about it, and when I saw it at Target in a bundle with Skyrim for only $30, I didn't have a choice. I had planned to play Skyrim first on my new Xbox, but since it's so open-ended and can essentially go on forever, I decided to start with BioShock.

Can I just say. Everybody who has played this game and didn't tell me: whyyyyyy? Seriously, why? I was hooked at the main menu. And about five minutes later when Booker ascends from the lighthouse up into the floating city of Columbia, I fell in love. I don't even like FPS games, and maybe that's why I never went for BioShock before, but I am so engrossed. It's strange, sweet, and unsettling, and really really good. I've been told it just gets weirder, which is perfect. I wish I could think of a better way to describe it. Look it up if you've never played it before and you're a gamer. Don't be like me and miss out for a year.

So yes, this was a Saturday well spent. Really well spent. And that $249 I dropped on the Xbox? Best $249 I've ever spent. (If you don't count my iPhone 5. Or the new tires on my car. Or the numerous plane tickets I've bought over the years. Whatever, you get the point.)

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