I started a football league and recruited a few colleagues, most of whom had never played fantasy. And we all got into it, started talking about our favorite players, teams we discovered that we liked, even the numbers game. And for me, I started envisioning my fantasy team in RPG terms.
If writing a thoughtful, thorough, stimulating nonfiction book about a video game sounds like a challenge, then choosing Kingdom Hearts II as the subject of such a book must be performing that task on Expert mode.
Ideally, I’d want to write a book about Silent Hill 3. The game deals a lot with violence, the human condition, and birth—all things that I write about a lot. But I have only ever watched my husband, Kenny, play this game, and absolutely could not play it myself—it’s technically difficult and scary.
Karaoke Revolution felt like a game. Rock Band, too, of course, felt like a game. But on some other level, it felt like a performance. When we took turns singing, we gave it our all. We sang the words like we meant them.
The last time I played a Castlevania game was during the Reagan administration. So how in the hell do I know Alucard’s backstory? How do I know who Trevor Belmont is? This isn’t knowledge that arrives via osmosis, like talk radio or work conversation.
Throughout the game, players make certain decisions that funnel them into one of nine conclusions. In some, Vincent ends up with Katherine. In others, he ends up with Catherine. In yet others, he ends up single; in one of these, he even saves enough money to buy a solo commercial ticket into space. And I have to say it did surprise me that Vincent’s fate branches this way.
In a series of fifteen sparse poems that flit across the page like half-remembered meditations, Vince’s speaker visits the psychic remnants of their life, the intersections and edges of their experience within a landscape that has turned them into “a / Body rounded / to Zero.”
Sonic, for all its hedgehog oddity, never had that extra. It seemed forced, a sped up, dumbed down, pallette-enhanced non-entity. It had the soul of Bennigan’s, the magic of made-for-TV adaptations. And without that 9th dimension, it was only a rapid platform, an artificial barrier to a journey explored and experienced.
I’d say half of everything I write concerns a character’s survival through some kind of game, often one they’ve made up. As a kid I used to deal with all my problems by treating life as a game, and I still do sometimes as an adult I admit. I’d say many of us do. It’s powerful but dangerous; imagination is a savior but it’s also damning.
I remember playing DDR in 1999 when I visited Osaka as an exchange student. The children in my host family had their own in-home dance pad, and we played it for hours: the perfect, wordless icebreaker.
Start any video game and the beginning is full of fail. Games requiring high levels of twitch facility (think Ghost and Ghouls on the NES or Fallout 3 on modern consoles) result in a lot of deaths early on, until the player masters the dexterity required and the particular skills that respective buttons are mapped to.