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Joey Bolzenius's blog

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Joey Bolzenius avatar 8:54 PM on 06.02.2013  (server time)
My Gaming Story: When videogames became a passion

I am terrible at videogames, born in '88 I grew up dying over and over in Nes and Snes as well as Genesis games. I flat out sucked and never improved for years. So I watched my brother play, he was pretty darn good. Christmas '98 I got the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time for our N64, hot damn! I had never played such a well made 3d game in my life, but still I was terrible so my brother played it all the way through. I watched every sword slash, every boss fight, the secrets scattered throughout the game. Ok not all the secrets. Finding some of those golden Skulltulas was crazy hard, though not as ludicrous as the Riddler Trophies in Arhkam City.

What struck me so hard about the game was its harmonious mix of gameplay, story, and music. Call me a nutjob but I was even impressed as hell by the visuals, the art direction still inspires me. The game felt epic in scope, sounded epic, looked epic, and played epic. As a 10 year old I had never seen anything like this and was astounded. I felt emotionally connected to Link, he literally grew up before my eyes and had to face the challenges of adulthood(of someone in a fantasy world), he took on greater and greater responsibilities. This was a game about growth and change of individuals and places. A tranquil mountain towering over the landscape became a ferocious fire spewing dungeon, a peaceful farm received a cruel new owner, a young princess had to conceal her identity and lie to the player's face. As a 10 year old I had not heard a story of degradation, change, and decay, this shook me. 

When the game finished and my brother emerged victorious I was shaking, horribly embarrassing oh my gosh yes, but that was the first time any media had really moved me. I cannot deny how inspirational that game was to me, I eventually taught myself 3d modeling/animation and went to college for game development and 3d animation largely because of Ocarina of Time's colors, shapes, and movement which dazzled me.

In addition, my family including myself, my brother and both of my younger sisters have played the game numerous times. What I think drew them back was one of the tracks: Sheik's theme 
The song feels so comfortably nostalgic in all the best ways, its a lullaby about childhood and all we learned and experienced from it that was happy and joyous, to treasure those memories even when the world(and certain videogames) turns brown and grimy. 

This game made me realize how games tell their stories through player action, not just the conventional tools that typical storytelling uses. I became a storyteller through the d-pad, A, Z, and B buttons, the joystick made me the plot device to move the story. My Link might hesitate at key moments while other player's Links raged straight into battle at any given opportunity. At age 10, seeing my brother click a button to open a chest and trigger a suspenseful reveal of a new item, I realized this was the beauty of interactive story-telling.

Because of Ocarina of Time I would go on to play dozens of RPGs for their stories, characters, visuals, and music looking for another example of the perfect mix of these vital elements. Such a stupendous way to be introduced to role-playing games I think. Heck games I have played from such genres as action/adventure have taken gameplay cues straight from OoT for the better. Looking at the game again nowadays I continue to appreciate its myriad qualities and to use Jim Sterling's "perfect pasta" metaphor, consider it a prime example of the exact right blend of herbs(music), spices(story), seasonings(visuals), and texture(gameplay).

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