Saturday, 9 July 2011

Grow Up? I've Done That Already, Thanks...

Ever been told to grow up, purely because you still play videogames? I'm 27 and I've done my growing up, it wasn't that fun to tell the truth.
    Fun is why I play games. The escapism, the fantasy, the stress relief, it all comes together to form an experience that no other medium can come close to creating.
    The irony to these people telling you to grow up though, is that they themselves probably own a Wii or a DS, or at least read books or watch films in their spare time, which is essentially for the exact same reason I play games – they want escapism, fantasy and stress relief.
    They want fun.
    And it's these people who are holding back the industry, their closed-mindedness that continues to fuel the argument about whether games should be considered as art or not. That isn't the point of this piece, but there are similar issues plaguing both debates.
    Books are considered as intellectual, writing is an art form (which it definitely is, as I have learned through attempting to write my own novel), yet anybody can read and write with a little practice.
    Films can be considered intellectual too, at least when it comes to the art house stuff rather than the Michael Bay school of big explosions and mindless action. But even Mr Bay has shown that absolutely anyone can make a film, Kevin Smith is also a patron of this way of thinking.
    Not everyone can make a videogame, at least not without some form of training. There are masses of data to consider beyond just telling a story, staging a football game or allowing people to shoot the hell out of each other online. It's a time-consuming process that often ends with unfinished products, as we've seen countless times.
    Anyway, I'm rambling.
    My point was that gaming is about having fun, either with friends or alone. Reading is about enjoying a story or discovering something new. Films are about having fun and enjoying the ride, be it something heavy and thought provoking or an adrenaline-fuelled action extravaganza.
    Some people believe gaming is for kids. Those people are missing out on some of the most rewarding media experiences available, which is their loss.

Silent Hill 2 - Gaming at its most mature.    
    Ever been scared silly, simply by having your character trapped in a closet with a disgusting creature outside? Been terrified purely by incredible characters that play on simple psychological ideas? Silent Hill 2 did those things and more, without resorting to gore or screaming obscenities to provide a more 'mature' experience.
    The Mass Effect series has shown how mixing a simple shooter with deep role-playing mechanics can lead to one of the most engaging, story-driven adventures in recent history. Again, without resorting to immature tactics.
    Call of Duty is obviously the most famous series of the moment, purely for the amount of fun players get out of competing online. The series does have some very impressive storyline examples, but the multiplayer aspect is what draws in the audience year in, year out.
Call of Duty - played by millions online.
An 18-rated game too, which many parents
obviously ignore.
    Sure, there can be immature players online, though that's mostly due to parents allowing children to play 18-rated games. Yet another argument best left for another time. The point of playing online though is the competitive aspect, which is often overlooked by those telling you to grow up.
    There's no real difference between an adult playing something like Call of Duty online, and somebody playing football on a Sunday morning. Both offer the same competitive aspect, despite one being mental exercise whereas the other is physical.
    And this doesn't include the co-operative side of multiplayer gaming, which actively encourages players – be they friends or complete strangers – to work together to complete various objectives. Some even lead to genuine friendships being formed, nothing to scoff at when said people would likely never meet otherwise, sometimes because they live on opposite sides of the world.
    Gaming is more grown-up than people give it credit for.
    And no matter how you look at it, gaming is no less mature than reading a book, watching a film or playing football on a Sunday morning.
    Anyone telling you otherwise needs to open their eyes.