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The unbearable charm of video games

Recently I was reading one of the Witcher books, watching the first season of the Witcher series, and playing the Witcher 3 game, simultaneously. While this Witcher triple penetration was going on, I noticed what’s a rather pedestrian observation, but doesn’t seem to be all that popular.

Games are much better at storytelling than movies, TV series, or even the stories themselves.

It’s sad that games have become something of a male guilty pleasure, as pieces of artistic creativity many of them are objectively better than most cinema and some books.

Do keep in mind though that I’m talking about PC games exclusively, mobile games are stupid and annoying.

If you were to place them in a hierarchy, movies and TV series would be at the bottom for me. They are the easiest to consume, you just lie down and let them do the work. Sure, some like Star Trek attempt to ask important and uncomfortable questions, but even they don’t allow the exercise of imagination that books do.

Books are obviously, as science has proved, fucking awesome, but even they have their limits. They take you on journeys, but you still have to follow a narrow path chosen by the author. This is where the uniqueness of games gets clearer.

There can be a story to a game, but you can usually explore it as you want to, or even completely ignore it in some cases. They only give you hints, nudge you into following a path, and use subtle cues to move you along the way. Even with simpler games that do not have too many side quests, you still have mover power over the experience than a book can ever allow.

And then there are games like Subnautica, games that give you the power, let you get used to it, and then take it all away when you least expect it. That game made me feel things that I as a grown man thought impossible.

Or like Portal 2, with its complex puzzle solving, weird relationships with sentient robots, and that ending, no book that I’ve ever read or movie that I’ve ever seen has come even close to that level of personal connection and proud achievement.

This sense of achievement is another one of the beauties of video games, and unique to them. Yes its primary aim nowadays is to get you addicted, but when used intelligently, this little thing works wonders. Combine that with the immersion and realism of games like ETS2, and you have an incomparable source of stimulation and entertainment.

I do not have long history with video games, as most “gamers” would. My parents have always thought of them as a waste of time, so the first serious sessions I had with one was when I was 17, on my first PC. I never had a gaming console before, or since, and didn’t have the nostalgia of Mario or Contra to relive. I have always chosen, almost exclusively, single player games to enjoy.

The point I’m trying to make is that I neither have the ideal past with games, nor is my present exposure to them vast in any sense, and yet I’ve found such gems in there and had such memorable experiences that I consider them to be one of the best parts of my life.

For the first timers, it will not be easy, but there’s great fun in exploration, in learning new skills and slowly getting better at them. Gender is irrelevant, age even more so, allow yourself to be carried away by the emotions of unexpected victories and defeats, the frustration and the charm.

I know this is supposed to be a motorcycling website or something, but there’s great similarity in the feelings generated by both these activities. Both are about risk, about transporting yourself into the unknown, taking difficult decisions on the fly, and doing complex actions with your body’s muscle memory. Single player games are like solo riding in more ways than one, multiplayer games are even more like group rides.

The easiest/cheapest way that I know of starting with video games, is to install Steam on your PC and buy games on sale. Read reviews, pick and choose, or just go for one, I’m personally on a 2005-2010 exploration right now. Yes the community can be a bit toxic, and their feelings a bit too strong, but none of that matters, games can be a very personal experience, it’s your choice.

Yes a lot of people think that games are nothing more than a tool to satisfy “the male fantasy”, yes some people think games are only for “nerds” in basements, and yes others think that they are just toys for little kiddies.

Don’t let their silly opinions stop you from enjoying the most challenging and satisfying forms of entertainment in existence.

One thought on “The unbearable charm of video games”

  1. Finally somebody puts into words what I failed to when trying to explain to non gamer luddites why it’s more than just meant for kiddies. Grinding thru a tough game gives a sense of satisfaction that modern workplaces completely seem to be lacking

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