In the past few weeks and months there has been much talk of videogame violence and it's affect, or lack thereof, on the minds of young gamers. My personal feeling is that this is a non issue, and many other writers have expressed these feelings far more eloquently than I ever could. Despite this, I still wanted to add my voice to the crowd, but in a slightly different way. Instead of repeating the same old augments we've all heard before, I would like to discuss the positive influence that videogames have had on my life.
Nurtured my creativity
Games aren't creative; you just do what you're told to earn points, right? Wrong! This seems to be the view that gaming's detractors have of our beloved medium, but we all know that's a load of bull. If you can't think creatively you're not going to be completing many games. Beating bosses, crossing platforms, helping a villager find their lost pet, saving the world; all of these seemingly simple activities will require outlandish solutions that just would not occur to purely logical brains. Years of this non-stop weirdness and game logic has trained my brain to think outside the box.
Being creative (and a touch eccentric) has made me a much more interesting person, and video games played a big part in nurturing that creativity. Of course, a healthy dose of the aforementioned has also helped me come up with stupid ideas like this article. Speaking of which…
Allowed me to express myself
If I didn't play games I wouldn't be writing this, obviously. More importantly, I probably wouldn't be writing anything at all. I really enjoy writing, and not just about games either, but about all of my interests, and even the odd short story. It wasn't always this way though.
At school writing was a chore; something to be done as fast as possible so I could move on to more interesting things. This was because the subjects I was being given to write about were not engaging. College and University went some way towards rectifying this problem. I studied film, which is a topic I am very interested in, and as such was able to enjoy my writing a lot more, but if I could shoehorn videogames in there at any point then that was just gravy.
It wasn't until after I left University that I realised I could write about games whenever I wanted. For fun! So I did, and that is now my preferred subject. Unlike films, which have been discussed to death over the last century, games are still comparatively unexplored in terms of serious study. Not only this but they're changing and evolving so fast that there's always new areas to explore, and I get to be a part of this.
If it wasn't for my interest in games I wouldn't have as many opinions as I do now, and I probably wouldn't be as good at expressing them. Having a hobby that I'm actively involved in has bled into the rest of my life, and I'm now much happier to pipe up, express myself, and show my true colours in any given situation, videogame related or otherwise.
Gave me an appreciation for art and style
As much as I love a well photographed live action film there's just something so special about animation; especially when you can control that animation. Watching Princess Mononoke, Beauty and the Beast or Finding Nemo is a fantastic visual experience, but playing The Wind Waker, Journey or Limbo is on a totally different level. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of animated movies, but gaming's inherently interactive nature involves me so much more in the intricacies of style. For example, when I first played The Wind Waker I spent literally hours just playing with the world; jumping into water to see that gorgeous 'splash' animation, running around with flaming deku sticks to see the light dance off the walls, performing the hurricane spin just so I could see Link's 'dizzy' animation, and I was in control of it all. The very act of playing the game, and seeing my actions played out on screen, was joyful. The same can be said for the games I mentioned above, and any number of other titles that I didn't.
To this day, whenever I see a piece of art, whatever its origin, I feel like I appreciate it all the more because of the time I've spent with games. Sure, I could have picked this trait up elsewhere, but I didn't, and I think it's a great trait to have.
Made me who I am today
That may sound overly dramatic, but any hobby that you're involved with for long enough is bound to influence you in some way. And that's the crux of this article. It would be very hypocritical of me to say that videogames don't influence people; I know from personal experience that that isn't true. And despite the positive influence that games have had on my life, it would be remiss of me to reject the possibility of any negative influence. For example, there have definitely been times that I've procrastinated by playing games, and this article
- which I believe hints at a much more useful arena of study - made me realise that I know more about guns than I'm entirely comfortable with. But these aren't things I've copied from games; they're simply interactions and experiences I've had with them that I perceive in a negative night.
What I really want to get across is that games have never directly influenced me. In other words I've never copied anything from a game, film or TV show, but they've influenced, taught and entertained me in a vast number of indirect ways. When I play a game I don't think about emulating what I see on the screen, rather, I marvel at the art direction, gameplay, story, and sheer creative majesty. In this way games are no different from any other art form, and they don't deserve to be feared any more so.
Games have inspired me, and I'm a better person for it, but more importantly I'm willing to bet that there's innumerable other people who have had a very similar experience.
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