I have always found that in video games, much like in real life, I have a longing for the places that I grew up with. Of course in video game terms I mean the levels that I started at. My character is brought into the world of itís particular game and spends its formative moments in these spots, so they always hold a special place with me. After I have left the nest and ventured out into the world of the game, I canít help but wonder what everyone is doing now that I have gone. In most games I am only ever left wondering. In a select few games I get the chance to check up on my old stomping ground, but my home coming always seems to be bitter sweet.
Before I was aware enough to call myself a gamer I was a huge fan of Diablo. I didnít have a copy myself, but I watched the whole game played over my friend Rikiís shoulder and even stole a few moments to play myself along the way. I spectated the whole game from start to finish and knew it as well as if I had been the one behind the keyboard. Eventually we moved on to other games, but one day I heard that Diablo 2 was coming out. Not content to sit on the side lines this time around I got my own copy and jumped into the game feet first. I was blow away by the game right away and to my surprise not more then a few hours into the game I was tasked with trekking over to my old home town of Tristram from the first game.
I arrived to find the land I had known so well set ablaze. Itís many homes and tavern had collapsed to the ground. The young boy Wirt, who had over charged me for so many items, lay dead on the ground and Griswold, the town blacksmith, had been transformed into an abomination. Only Deckard Cain was spared from the devastation. My happy little hamlet with a portal to hell under it had been destroyed. There would be no joyous return for me here.
Years past by and the pain of Tristram had faded from memory as I moved on to a new game to immerse myself in. No longer was I fighting demons and skeletons as a holy paladin. Now I was happy child growing up in comfort and safety of Vault 101. You spend quite a bit of time as a vault dweller in Fallout 3. The uniformity of its corridors and its people become comforting to most. I would have spent my whole life down in that vault if events had not transpired the way they did, but we donít often have control over our destiny. My destiny it seemed was to leave the safety of Vault 101 and cross the vastness of the capital wasteland in search of adventure.
I walked the lands of Fallout 3 far and wide. I freed the enslaved, fought mighty mutated beasts, and even saw a giant robot fight against communism. I did many memorable things, but the home I left behind was always in my mind. Then one day as I walked my lonely path through the waste, I picked up a distress signal on my Pip-boy 3000. It was from Vault 101. Home was calling me back and I was ready to answer the call.
I donít know what I was expecting to see after the way I left. The Vault had always seemed to be a constant all my life. When I returned I found it in a state of civil war. Itís people torn apart as a direct result of my actions. I didnít have much choice when I left, but seeing my home and the people inside fighting and killing each other left me stunned. I did not know how to proceed. Many of my old people wished to follow in my footsteps and venture out into the world and many wished to cut off from the world once more. The future of my people now rested in my hands, but I could not know what the right choice was.
There are many other games that offer the player a chance to had back to the areas the started at, but the most lasting one for me have always been the times when I get back only to find that everything has changed in my absence. It seems almost silly to expect that I would be able to come back after having all those adventures and nothing has changed back home. It feels like a fitting metaphor for life.
Or maybe theyíre just games and Iím taking to much meaning from them.