Fallout 2 might be my favorite game of all time. It doesn’t have the same nostalgia factor that earlier games like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger have, and it will never match the replay factor of the Ogre Battle series. It’s not as mind-numbing as Ken Griffey Jr. or Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and it doesn’t have the camaraderie associations that Tekken 3 has. But what it does have is this: perfection.
I think about certain things differently because I played so many video games. The Harvest Moon games influenced how I conceptualize life in general and especially making and spending money, a topic I’m still obsessed with today. Every time I do anything even remotely adventurous, I pretend I’m Lara Croft from Tomb Raider.
I don’t always identify exclusively with female characters. As a kid, Luke Skywalker and Robin Hood were two of my fondest role models. But usually, I do find it easier to focalize through women.
I’ve played close to 300 hours of Stardew, and it’s because it makes me feel peaceful, cheerful, satisfied. It’s like deeply breathing. There is something serene about the soundscape, the way it feels when a day begins with rain, or you crack open a geode, or wrestle with a difficult fish.
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.”