Saturday, June 22, 2013
Read my chips - books and video games, vs or co-op?
Of all media, my first love was books. Before I'd ever seen an 'Intendo' or played Atari, or, as far as I can tell, even watched TV, my Mom would read to us kids every night before going to sleep. And I don't mean to brag, but she was a fantastic reader. My Mom always loved children's lit, and she read with great enthusiasm. It didn't hurt that she had tastes suited to her particular talents, the two favorites being Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. Highly lyrical writing, my Mom would read these to us over and again in her bubbly, sing-song reading voice, and we grew to love and anticipate reading time. She would hold the books open for us to see, and I would follow my mom's voice and the words on the page, slowly decoding them as I learned to read myself.
The first career I ever wanted was to be a novelist. Long before I knew anything about what it was like to have a job, or support myself, I was sure I wanted to write books. The earliest effort I can still recall was a story about Dragon Warrior II (fanfiction!). I borrowed the plot, setting, names and most of the action from the game, but I filled in the details. I seem to remember I finished the first chapter and it was maybe ten binder pages long. It involved the main characters being sent on their journey by the king, and then going to the weapon and armor shop to buy their gear, then going to the Inn to sleep. Pretty generic, I know, and yet I still remember what the town looked like in my mind, the real-world variation on the 8-bit Dragon Warrior graphics.
The power of the imagination is really amazing to me; even (seemingly) generic, unoriginal thoughts have their own unique qualities. And books have an amazing ability to bring this out in people like me. Even a writer who spends very little time on character description - my mind will simply insert a character of my own making based on... it's own arbitrary decisions, I guess. Nothing can quite do this for like a book. I'm not sure why, but I think it may be the fact that there are no pictures. That through words, only, my imagination builds a world of depth. (I'm really going to begin speculating here, so... consider yourself warned. )
If the internet explosion of fan art is any indication, other people get their own inspired images video games and other media. Not to mention my own example of Dragon Warrior II. However, that example was informed by the act of writing, the imaginary world took shape as I wrote about it. I am tempted to cite the lower-detail, symbolic imagery of DW II and other 8-bit games, not to mention comics and cartoons-- in an effort to claim that the more realistic graphics of movies, tv and modern video games somehow dumb down the imagination and don't challenge it as much. But that's probably bullshit. I mean, there is intuitive sense there, but I have seen plenty of movies and had dreams about them, and seen new worlds of creativity using the imagery contained within.
It's not like I can measure this shit, but I am wildly tempted to place video games and books in a Versus context, instead of co-op, as I did with my DW II writing as a young'un. Am I just aggressive and cantankerous? Or is there something there, and I can't quite figure it out? Whatever the case, I do know that I'm prone to asking rhetorical questions, so that must count for something.
In conclusion, I haven't been playing a lot of games lately, and I feel like what I really need is a good book. I'm thinking Murakami. I also think that books and games are fundamentally similar, and obviously different. I'm mostly interested in how they are similar, and I'd like more of that part, please. Thanks.