Video games are everywhere today. There are ads on TV for Call of Duty. The development of Battlefield 4 gets a long article in the New York Times. Midnight release parties draw huge crowds.
I follow all of it. It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t. But not too long ago, I knew next to nothing about video games.
I played adventure games when I was a teenager. They were lighthearted things, and not something I did often.
The games I remember the most are the Nancy Drew games. My mother and I played our first Nancy Drew game in 2000, and now, 13 years later, we’re still playing them. There are about 30 games in the series as of this October, making Nancy Drew the most prolific game series you’ve never heard of.
In 2008, I got my first Assassin’s Creed game. I bought it because I didn’t know anything about the time period in which it was set. I loved it more than I ever thought I would.
I never thought I would enjoy video games like Assassin’s Creed because I didn’t consider myself a violent or aggressive person. I assumed that, since games like AC involved killing and violence, you had to have violence issues to be able to enjoy them.
I also assumed that the only people who bought video games like the ones I enjoyed were men. They were all marketed towards men. It did not take long for me to learn that I was not the only girl in the gaming community, although I will admit that the industry still needs to adjust to the fact that almost half of their audience is not made up of young me’s.
I started playing games during my quiet time between studies in college.
Interestingly, it was the stresses of college that added some aggression to my personality, and I think video games actually helped me relax.
That’s in complete contradiction to what I thought when I was younger.
Sometimes I would be asked, “Well, why don’t you read a book instead?”
That’s a bit like someone seeing that I’m eating an apple and asking, “Why don’t you eat a steak instead?” I don’t feel like eating a steak. The two culinary experiences are completely different.
To me, video games are a completely different kind of experience from anything else. They can offer the same level of emotion and excitement, but for completely different reasons.
The first time I cried during a game was in Assassin’s Creed 2.
The main character’s father and brothers are murdered right in front of him while he is helpless and screaming. I wasn’t expecting it, though, in retrospect, it should have been obvious.
Once again, it’s about immersion. I’d played as the main character for over an hour by that point. I’d watched the prequel movie starring his father.
I was attached to the characters, and the game had even implied that they could be saved and would go into hiding. Instead I had to watch as they were publicly executed.
Playing video games isn’t just about unleashing aggression or solving mysteries or pretty settings. It’s not even about good stories.
It’s about the player being part of the stories. It’s about being allowed to influence the story, even if the ending is a foregone conclusion. When the player gets into a game, and when a good game allows them in, they have an experience that no movie, book, or television can offer.
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