Let me start this off by asking: What is the greatest video game ever made? Broad question, open to many opinions I realize. By now you’re probably wondering what I think the answer to this question is, (no I’m not going to pick Assassin’s Creed). The greatest game ever made is: “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”, created for the greatest gaming console man has ever known: the N64. Now that you know my answer, I will begin to explain why I would want to live in Hyrule (where the game takes place).
This game totally engulfed my life when I was around 7 years old. I was fascinated by the overpowering good vs. evil themes that the game employed, as well as the simple (and mostly happy) life that the ordinary people lived in their villages. There are many creatures that live throughout Hyrule including the Gorons an the Zoras. They are both awesome. Personally, I wouldn’t mind being either one of these creatures. The Gorons have massive amounts of strength and seem virtually indestructible, while the Zoras can breath under water.
Sure there’s an evil king (Ganondorf) who rules over the land, but if I lived there I wouldn’t be worried at all. I could devote my time to aiding Link in his quest to banish the evil that resides over Hyrule, or sit back and watch him do it anyways. Good always wins over evil, (at least that’s what I thought when I was 7).
The first time you meet Edward Hyde in Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a scene of terrifying action. As you can see from the panel below, Mr. Hyde bursts onto the page, shirt torn to shreds wielding a bloody cane. To be honest, when I turned to this page for the first time, I burst out laughing. I know what you’re thinking: “What kind of sick human being are you?” (or something to that effect). Let me clarify. I was not laughing at the scene taking place in the frame, but rather in the ridiculous manner in which Mr. Hyde is displayed.
I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde less than a year ago, and I assure you nowhere in the novel is Edward Hyde described as an enormous hulking monster. Instead, this is the description found within Stevenson’s original work: “Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice.” Now take another look at the scene below and see how the portrayals match up. The small, timid, pale figure with a weak voice is nowhere to be found, replaced instead by a massive monkey-like animal bellowing at the top of its lungs. I know Alan Moore wanted to make his work as exciting as possible, but come on, can you see why I was laughing now?
With the game industry expanding at an incredible rate, it is now a challenge to identify how much respect the creators and designers get in comparison to people who create other forms of media. Some may argue that the designer of an immensely popular game should get as much respect for his work as James Cameron gets for his blockbuster films. In reality, however, there is still an impression with the general public that video games are a somewhat juvenile form of media. This is why they do not receive as much exposure as some other forms of media, and as a whole are not considered “art” in the same way a captivating movie or a classic novel is.
The definition of art is very broad, and can stretch to encompass many things such as: painting, sculpture, architecture, writing, film, etc. When I look down this list, however, I am not inclined to put games in with the rest of these examples for the following reason. Let’s take Assassin’s Creed II, set in renaissance Florence, Italy. (I apologize for continuing to bring this game up in my posts, but it’s just a great example of everything). A beautifully done digital reconstruction of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) is part of the world within the game:I think you’ll agree that it’s incredibly well done. Some may say that this is art, but when you consider the effort and the time required to build the cathedral in real life (approximately 140 years), it is obviously a much more impressive feat than constructing something digitally.
I do realize that countless hours are put into the development of a video game, but the problem is that the general public do not universally respect the gaming genre, making it difficult to call it an art form when the group of people that it appeals to is still so small.
When I first realized exactly what the movie King of King: A Fistful of Quarters was all about (a documentary about the Donkey Kong arcade game’s world record), I’ll say that I was thinking to myself: “Wow, this is going to be a LONG class”. Despite my foolish pessimism, however, I soon realized that this was no ordinary documentary. At least, in most documentaries I’ve seen there aren’t people who I end up actually hating by the end of the movie. Not so in King of Kong. How can anyone who has seen this movie not completely despise Billy Mitchell, self proclaimed video game hall of famer who to me seems like he never really matured past the age of seven. At one point he even says: “Not even Helen of Troy had that much attention” when he hears how many people are in attendance to watch his video taped world record (see video at end). A more important question may be how anyone would possibly want to be portrayed as a complete jerk in a movie, basically ensuring that anyone who watches the film will dislike you.
Unbeknownst to me, competitive old school video gaming is a cut-throat world filled with endless manipulation and backstabbing. This is why I was incredibly happy to see someone like Steve Wiebe who plays by the rules (apparently), and isn’t a complete jerk to everyone around him. The ending to the movie absolutely made my day as I got to see Billy Mitchell’s ego squashed by the high school science teacher who took the record for highest taped score of Donkey Kong.
Unfortunately, later in the week I looked online and found that Steve Wiebe is no longer the King of Kong. The distinction is now held by Hank Chien…all I can say is I’m glad it’s not Billy Mitchell.
Over my many years of experience with console gaming, I’ve noticed a trend in the way I play most games. Below is a brief summary of what happens when a game that I have been waiting for for months is finally released:
1. I put aside all other things that I should be doing so that I can go out and buy the game when it is released.
2. I forget about every other game that I’ve ever purchased for a month or two while I focus exclusively on whatever game I’ve just bought.
3. After about a month I begin to tire of the so called “new game”, and begin the search all over again for the next addicting title. Meanwhile, the game that I was so obsessed with fades into oblivion.
I thought that this trend would continue forever until I was introduced to what I now consider to be the greatest game franchise ever produced: Assassin’s Creed. For those of you reading this post, if you have never played Assassin’s Creed, I pity you. It will change your life. I know most of you will understand where I’m coming from when I say that the plot lines of most adventure games on the market are anything but compelling. Not so with Assassin’s Creed. It is nearly impossible to not get emotionally invested in the plot, because the game is just that realistic. There’s nothing more satisfying than running through a near perfect reconstruction of renaissance-era Florence avenging the death of your family by locating and assassinating the man who had them hanged. Interested yet? You should be, but in case you aren’t, I will leave you with this. A glimpse of what the new Assassin’s Creed (coming in November) will look like, and perhaps the most badass game trailer ever released:
Ever since I was a little kid my parents have taught me that if you want something you have to work hard for it and just buy it yourself. Consequently, I found myself saving my money at all times just waiting for something to come along that I truly wanted. When I was about 7, my older brother and I decided that we could no longer live without an N64. Can you blame us? Lets be honest, it’s still to this day the greatest gaming console ever produced. This point marked the beginning of what would become years and years of disapproval from my parents, who do not and never will recognize where the fun lies in playing a video game.
Let me point out that I really do not spend a lot of time playing videos games. My friends attitude towards gaming is fairly similar as well. We’ll play a few games of FIFA or Call of Duty from time to time, but never find ourselves in front of the screen for hours on end. In addition, I’ve never been much of an online PC gamer for the sole reason that it terrifies me. I am positive that if I sat down and played World of Warcraft for an hour, I would become so addicted that by the time I realized what I was doing I would have thrown away about a month of my life playing the game.
The worst part about sitting down to play a video game for me is that every time one of my parents walks by they give me the slightest glance of disapproval. I know they’re not trying to be condescending, but it’s clear to me that they would rather see me doing a whole host of other things that don’t involve sitting in front of a TV.
Things could be a lot worse. I could be holed up in my room for hours on end, severing contact with the outside world because I’m so engrossed in a video game. Sometimes it’s tempting to try and beat the entire Assassin’s Creed game as soon as it comes out, no matter how long it would take. Then I remember that the game will always be there for me to complete later. Perhaps my parents’s attitude about gaming is rubbing off on me slightly. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are incredibly fun to play, but I also realize that there are often more important things that I could be spending my time doing. I’m not sure why my parents can’t see the entertainment value in video games, but honestly I don’t really care. In the end, it’s not other’s attitudes towards gaming that you have to worry about…just yours. But remember, please be moderate.