The Magic in Video Games

February 25, 2016


I think everyone ought to play a good video game at least every once in a while. I can think of nothing else that puts such a healthy dose of playfulness into someone's personality. Playfulness is not only good but necessary for the human condition because it leads to creativity, and creativity leads to innovation and problem-solving. 


Video games inspire me to write. Like novels, they put you in another world, even if it is one modeled after the real world, and dare you to experience something meaningful. What is meaningful does not have to be serious or philosophically-profound. Experiences that are meaningful are filled with living in the moment, whether you are vicariously taking action as a character or making decisions about your own life.


I remember being entranced by video games as a young child. They held a sense of mystery to me, for in them the world was open and explorable yet closed within limits that could not be breached. For example, in Super Mario games you control Mario only until he reaches the flag pole. After he jumps off it and walks off screen you can follow him no more. Where does he go in those seconds while the next level loads? A bathroom break? Doing stretches so that he won't pull something while skidding off walls? 


I strive for my writing to have elements of video game-like discovery in them. In Yoshi's Paintbrush, the main character pulls open drawers, feels inside her shoe, and looks at her reflection in the mirror. Those are little details one might come across in an RPG, for they are actions that pull together the character and the setting into one interactive situation. My graphic novel for teens and older, Luris, addresses the reader as "you" in much the same way an RPG narrates the game's story to the player. To limit oneself to only a couple creative media forms, such as books and movies, would be to deprive oneself of a broader imaginative experience. 


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