Sometimes video games get a bad rap. They’ve been used by the media as a scapegoat for real life violence more than once and, as a lifelong gamer, that troubles me. I know, ultimately, people will believe what they believe, but I’m always trying to sing the praises of video games to whoever will listen.
When I know someone who doesn’t play games (and is willing to discuss them with an open mind), I tend to introduce them to a familiar set of three titles as digital ambassadors to the beauty of games and gaming.
The first is Journey. I don’t intend to get into the “games as art” debate but, as a person who sees art in many things, I absolutely think games are art. I like to show people Journey, as there are no words, the most simplistic of controls, and one of the most moving experiences of any game I’ve been exposed to.
Even now, looking at still images, Journey gives me pause. I know I am already an emotional person, but Journey is a heightened experience for me every time I think about it.
Another game I love to show people is Okami.
Okami is timeless. The Japanese watercolor art style is gorgeous and shown to perfection in the recent HD versions. I like to explain that you play as the white wolf Amaterasu and your task is to restore nature to the land. How could anyone forget the first time they bloomed one of the large cherry blossom trees and the pink petals rained down as nature rushed through that part of the world? It was literally breathtaking for me. I love showing people one of those cherry tree moments, followed immediately by Amaterasu throwing her head back for a majestic and victorious howl.
The last game I try to show people is BioShock, my favorite game of all time.
For me, there is no location in gaming as iconic as Rapture. From the moment I first played BioShock so many years ago, I was taken in every way; the aesthetics, the music, the plasmids, the story, everything about BioShock thrilled me. If someone gives me the chance, I love sharing that world with them. I love showing people the initial descent into Rapture; thinking about it now gives me chills.
As a side note: most recently, I’ve begun to show people Florence or, more accurately, encouraged them to download it and play it on their phones. It’s a nearly perfectly executed game, and I feel like everyone who takes the time to play it will certainly get something from the experience.
I like to tailor what games I tell people about/show them based on their interests. If someone likes David Lynch, I’m likely going to talk to them about Virginia. If someone likes super heroes, I’m probably going to talk about inFamous or Valley. If someone likes adorable things, I’m probably going to talk about Animal Crossing. If they are into philosophy or abstract thinking, I’m going to show them Everything. If they are into horror movies, I’m going to show them P.T.
I love games and I love talking to people about games. Even though I probably play shooters most often, I love letting other people know there are so many more games out there that have nothing to do with shooting. I love showing them games where there is no violence. If I can avert even one misconception about video games to people who don’t normally play them, I consider myself fortunate.
Games are amazing.
With that I ask: when discussing games with someone who doesn’t play them, which games do you talk about or show them? And why? I’d love to hear which games are your ambassadors to others.