[It’s time for another Monthly Musing — the monthly community blog theme that provides readers with a chance to get their articles and discussions printed on the frontpage. — CTZ]
I’ve been waiting for the right time to actually post a Monthly Musing article. Waiting for that perfect theme to come along, with a topic so moving that I just had to say something. Well, after all my waiting, that topic has finally come along.
One of the most compelling arguments for why videogames are such a vast and profitable medium these days is because of its ability to engross you into a story. Even if there isn’t a story present, you’re still part of it. You’re still a part of the universe that has been created by that game, and you still exist within it. Even when a story isn’t present you’re still there, which is why it’s actually rather easy to create a story within a videogame when one does not exist.
Beetle Adventure Racing
is a rather obscure racing title that was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1999. It was developed by Paradigm Entertainment, and published by Electronic Arts. The game’s only available car to race with is a Volkswagen Beetle. But different, and more radical paint schemes cause certain Beetles to go much faster than others.
The game put a massive emphasis on shortcuts, putting them all over tracks in places that made the game even more fun. Like, driving through a barn filled with hay, for example. This dynamic made the game incredibly fun. Not to mention the fact that Paradigm was able to make the game incredibly gorgeous for its time, and even managed at-the-time unseen draw distances out of the quirky title.
But these things are not what make the game a narrative. Its four player co-op, and distinct lack of story, are what make this game so ripe to become a narrative. Not within the game itself, but within your own mind. As a child, we see anything and our mind immediately wanders. Forcing it to become something we want it to. Cardboard tubes become swords and lightsabers. Boxes become base of operations, and rocket ships. And wacky racing titles about Volkswagen Beetles become titles about action-packed car chases with WWF No Mercy created wrestlers at the wheel.
Yes, you read that right.
When I was a young imaginative child, I imagined everything in a different light. I wasn’t limited to the story that was presented or even the setting. My friends and I all created our own perfect wrestlers (mine was KaNyOn, yeah I know … ) and from there, after winning tag team titles, and world championships, we made them action stars. When we discovered Beetle Adventure Racing, we immediately loved its ridiculously fun-filled racing style, reminiscent of San Francisco Rush, but freeform enough to practically be Gran Turismo. From there, we knew what we had to do.
After unlocking all the cars, we all decided which car was our favorite (I managed to snag the fastest in the game) and that car was assigned to our wrestler. We would start races, drive around, and hide in these shortcuts, whilst avoiding capture from our aggressive opponents, which happened to be each other.
We concocted background stories, and schemes. Even a plot to take over the Beetle-filled world came up at one point. It was honestly some of the most fun I can remember in all my times with videogames. The merging of two completely different games could only be done by the wonderfully creative mind of a child. Where the universe isn’t limited to a single cartridge. It’s limited by how far out and crazy you’re willing to think.
The joy of videogames is its ability to immerse you into any world. To put you into any situation. But, when you’re young, you don’t need someone to do that for you. The entire world, and everything in it, is a narrative waiting to happen.