I’ve been waiting a while to blog about a topic that I felt could come a little organically, and while I will admit that I perhaps waited a little too long to start, I thought this story was a perfect question to present in this class. Recently, I was having a conversation with my friend about a game that had come out a little while ago, called Bioshock Infinite. As we were discussing the game, another friend of ours came over to listen, and then asked us something that inspired a really fascinating discussion; “Haven’t you guys outgrown games yet?”
The friend who I was talking to (out of privacy I’ll call him Mark) , began to argue that games were not a child’s toy anymore, that the days of Super Mario and Donkey Kong being the major games was over. He discussed how games have really made the shift into actual creative storytelling, stories that for the first time, people can actively write themselves. Games no longer simply tell you to save the world, but they now offer you the choice to let it burn or rule it as well. You aren’t simply running through panning two-dimensional backgrounds, completing little missions as they pop up. You’re creating relationships between characters, feeling for the plights of the different citizens who claim to need your help. “In a way,” he said, “for a lot of people, video games are becoming the new way to read a book, except this time they really are the hero.”
Granted, I didn’t exactly agree with games taking the place of books, but games have certainly earned their merit in terms of telling stories, inciting emotions, and teaching moral lessons that myths, legends, and stories taken to paper have done in hundreds of years prior. Video games have been taking these lessons one step forward though, because now, instead of just watching the hero make a choice for his own reasons, and learning from that why it was the right or wrong choice, games force the player-reader to take agency in the narrative and make the choice themselves, suffering whatever consequences may come.
Now that we, in this class, are discovering how to take reading into the digital age, I thought it would be pertinent to see how storytelling has already taken that step forward. Sure, there are a lot of military games out there, but there are also games that talk about a father’s redemption in the eyes of their child, a soldier that suffers through his own Heart of Darkness in Dubai, two brothers that would travel the world to be with each other, and a Journey, taken in complete silence, yet with more communication and understanding than most games convey. Overall, narrative has already penetrated the digital world, and now it is our job to save the texts that helped inspire these new stories, and help inspire a conversation that pushes us into the future.