Video games are my heroin. They are my drug of choice.
Whether I’m Issac Clark curb stomping the heads of gurgling necromorphs or Ezio Auditore diving into carts of hay from rooftops crowded with pigeons, I can’t get enough. Sometimes I wish I could reap the benefits of electricity like Cole Macgrath–maybe give a quick zap to the person walking down the sidewalk with their head shoved in the screen of their phone, just as a friendly reminder there’s a whole world around them. If Los Santos Customs could really build me a car frame of chrome upon drive-in request for two thousand dollars I’d faint.
If all radio stations understood satire like Rockstar I’d start listening to them again.
I think i’m content living outside of The Last Of Us, however. Stunning graphics, flawless game play, a developed plot, an emotional roller-coaster from beginning to end, that game takes a spot as one of my favorites. Another basic zombie apocalyptic tale was what I expected and instead I got slapped in the face with infected humans, mushroom-headed clickers, and crazed FireFlies. I’m sure all of us felt a little pang in our love sacks when we found out the mutated cordyceps that could save humanity lie in Ellie’s brain. I’m still unconvinced that I would have been able to save her and leave humanity to it’s probable demise were I Joel. I’m also unconvinced that I would have let her die. Don’t you just love a game that twists your mind with ambiguous endings?
Do I have enough courage to purchase Outlast on Steam? I’ve asked myself that many times since 2013. The fact that it’s immersed in actual horror rather than action-horror like, say, the Resident Evil series (which I enjoy regardless) titillates my gaming senses. I want to feel the rush of being threatened without means to properly defend myself; that’s the true measure of a horror game: how much dread it can instill without overexerting itself. No one likes a game that tries too hard. And after the major disappointment of Aliens: Colonial Marines (I’ve never played it but everyone I’ve spoken with who has didn’t have kind words towards it) , Alien: Isolation gave me hope a pure horror genre may become more popular in these expensive games. The androids kill me. Them and their “You’re starting to test my patience” and their “It seems you and I have a problem” makes my skin crawl. They also infuriate me. When Alien leaps from an air vent and lands beside an Android, the Android mutters “What are you? Unidentified Species. Logging report to Apollo” as if that’s really going to stir a useful response. Thanks but no thanks; i’ll stick to my noise makers and flamethrower, please.
A curious game, one that’s gotten mixed reviews and one I’ve still yet to play for myself (facepalm) is The Evil Within. There’s something about Ruvik’s voice (Rorschach from Watchmen) that draws me in. There’s obvious similarities to Resident Evil (of course). I have nothing against smashing boxes and killing enemies for Ammo, I have nothing against boss battles or gruesome creatures, I just hope there’s actually a horror factor to it. Resident Evil never quite terrified me. I was too focused on shooting to jump out of my skin.
The world of gaming has expanded drastically. Pc’s are more powerful, virtual reality like the Oculus Rift gear and the newly developed Vitrix Omni puts you right in the action, gaming consoles include better graphics and more features, and you can make a decent living off playing them if you’re insanely popular on YouTube or Twitch. Unfortunately we can’t all be Markiplier or Pewdiepie. I’m not even sure I could dedicate as much time as needed to developing that kind of internet fame. I do, however, know video games have helped me through many anxious, depressed times. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting in front of a monitor or television and prying yourself from your own head to dive into someone else’s for a while.
It’s a distraction more than anything. If i’m thinking about my strategy for ambushing a militia group kidnapping some civilians i’m not focused on the wreaking ball of anxiety built into the back of my head. I’m fully aware avoidance is a maladaptive behavior, but everyone deserves a break once in a while, right?
Besides, video games are basically animated literature you play a part in. The better the plot, the more detailed the character, the better the play through. Some day future classrooms will consist of video games as a preferred learning material, I’m sure of it. We’re already shoving tablets and computers in front of our elementary school kids, what’s wrong with handing them a controller or keyboard and mouse so they can play their way to an ‘A’?
That’ll be the slogan: “Expand your kids’ mind! Let them play their way to an ‘A’!
It’s a whole culture in itself though, really. There’s gamer speak, gamer attire, gamer conventions–gamers understand gamers. Gamers won’t ask you basic questions like what the acronym DLC stands for when you talk about Left Behind for The Last of Us or The Consequence for The Evil Within. They won’t ask you what the significance of 2tb memory is. Don’t judge my lame examples; you get the point.
Being the socially anxious freak I am, it’s nice being part of a group where I know for sure I don’t have to worry about what I say. I may not be an intense, professional gamer that knows everything about everything, but I know enough and play enough to hold my own in a conversation, something I can’t often do with any other subject besides psychology. Casual chatter is not my thing. Casual chatter about video games or psychology is my thing.
We like to put ourselves in a different world, experience creativity in its rawest form and I think that’s what makes gaming such an attractive hobby. When i’m angry I know I can go into a virtual world and dismember, mutilate, or Michael Bay the hell out of everything without consequence. When I’m depressed I can play something with witty satire. When i’m anxious I can play a strategy game, something to help me focus on one thing instead of several unimportant
things. I’d like to personally thank video games everywhere for giving me more solace than any therapist I’ve ever had.