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Why I Love Video Games

It seems to me that there is too much damn negativity in the gaming world.

Every time there’s a new announcement, every time there’s a new game released, every time anything happens in the gaming industry, there’s some kind of horrible negative backlash filled with hate, threats, and other forms of unnecessary vitriol.

There’s nothing wrong with being upset about something, nor is there anything wrong with voicing opinions about that which makes you upset, but there’s plenty wrong with taking it way too far. We as a culture need to change the way we think about video games, how we respond to these things that anger us. Instead of immediately lashing out, we need to start thinking things through and developing intelligent, thought-out responses to that which irks us.

I believe this is possible, and I also believe it starts with remembering why we love video games in the first place.

This is a media with millions of fans around the world. Fans who play games they love, read about upcoming games they want to love, and reminisce about games they once loved. No one plays video games to be miserable, no one plays to be sad, and no one plays to be angry (no matter how mad a game can make us, DARK SOULS). We play because we enjoy it, we play because we have fun with it, we play because we love it. A lot of fans, it seems, have forgotten why they fell in love with video games to begin with, and it only takes a minute to remember.

Here’s why I love video games:

Stories Games Tell

Mass Effect. The Final Fantasy series. Assassin’s Creed. Chrono Trigger. Games have been telling fantastic stories forever. They create entire universes for us to explore and characters for us to care about. Sometimes they even let us create those characters to look just like ourselves. No other media allows us to do that. I couldn’t tell you how many games have sucked me in with their great stories, even though I didn’t think I’d like them at all. Catherine is a perfect example; I didn’t know what to make of it during its development, but once it launched I thought “hey, I’ll try it” and its fantastic story and unique gameplay rendered me unable to stop playing. The stories that video games create rival every other kind of entertainment there is, and they always will.

Fighting Games

I hold a special place in my heart for fighting games. Why? Because Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo is a huge reason why I’m typing this article today. Without it I wouldn’t be a big of a gamer as I am. I spent HOURS playing the game, beating the arcade mode multiple times with each character, playing against my friends (and winning) in versus mode, even just putting the music on in sound test while I did homework in my room. As the genre progressed, I joined with it, getting into Tekken and Soul Blade and Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct and World Heroes and more. I’d even give the less-than-stellar fighting games like Rise of the Robots a chance. Today, in the days of Street Fighter X Tekken and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and the upcoming Persona 4 Arena, I’m still here brawling with the best of them. I even tried my hand at the competitive scene…but we’re not going to get into that. I love many types of games and I have plenty of all-time favorites, but I’ll never turn down a fight.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: I run Zangief in Street Fighter, Astaroth in Soul Calibur, King in Tekken, Cyrax in Mortal Kombat, Akuma/Firebrand/Nemesis in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.

The Feeling Of Opening A Brand New Game

You finally hold the game you’ve been waiting for in your hands. It’s been a long, long time coming, but it’s finally time. You slowly unseal the package, take the annoying sticker off of the lip of the case (in Xbox’s case, anyway), and open the box. That sweet, sweet new game smell hits you as you see the disc inside the case, the manual perfectly nestled in the left side of the case. You take the game out, put it in the system, and the grueling wait is finally over. Nothing in video games compares to that moment. The pre-launch hype is over, the discussion has ended. There are no more trailers to watch, no more screenshots to see. Now it’s just you and the game, and you’re just getting started. It’s the best.

Conventions

My body was not ready for that picture..

I can’t really put into words how incredible the convention scene is. You’re surrounded by giant booths, some as big as my house, filled with games to play. Most of the games aren’t even out yet, and you get a sneak peek before launch. In E3’s case, all of the other attendees around you either write about the games they’re playing as I do or have made the games themselves. As much as I enjoy E3, part of me prefers the shows that allow the public in, like PAX and the Comic-Cons. That’s where the lifeblood of this industry is in full force: the people who play and love the games. Some come dressed as their favorite characters, some come as they are normally. However, all of them are there because they love what the convention has to offer and they want to experience it all.

I’ve been to three E3s, two New York Comic-Cons, and one PAX East. At each show, I felt like I was where I belonged: among the gamers and the games. IF you ever get a chance to go to any show, do it. You won’t regret it.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

If I’m going to talk about why I love games, I may as well talk about the game I’m currently playing, right?

I normally don’t do well with giant open-world games like Amalur. I’ve tried Bethesda’s RPGS, I’ve dabbled in MMOs like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, but I just couldn’t stick with them. Despite this knowledge, I bought Amalur on day one and gave it a shot. The demo was promising, and everything that was wrong with it was fixed as far as I knew, so I wanted to try it before I dismissed it. In the two weeks between this and Mass Effect 3 (one of my most coveted games like I talked about above), I logged 27 hours into Amalur. It doesn’t sound like much, but with a full-time job and in the middle of house-shopping and wedding planning, that’s a hell of a lot of my gaming time. It never left my console for two straight weeks. Now, after recently getting back into it, I’m not even at the halfway point of the main quest and I’m approaching 45 hours. No game like this has ever compelled me to play quite like Amalur does, I just can’t stop. It’s a damn shame that 38 Studios and Big Huge Games collapsed, because they had a customer for life right here.

 

These are a few reasons why I love video games. I’ve been playing since I was three years old, which makes me a 22-year veteran of the digital gaming world. That’s far too long an investment to lose because I don’t agree with some of the decisions being made right now. As long as I remember why I started playing games to begin with, my mind will stay clear and my love will stay strong.

I want to hear why you love video games. Why do you play? What are your favorites? What makes you a gamer? Feel free to share, I want to hear it all. I hope you enjoyed my list, and I hope you think about what I’m trying to get at here. At the end of the day, we’re all gamers, and we all love games. Every once in a while, we should remember why we love them in the first place.



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