27
Oct
10

My Evolution as a Gamer

[Disclaimer: this is a fairly personal article and I do tend to ramble a bit.  But I felt like I needed to write this down.]

I fully intended to sit down at this computer and start preparing for my Review of Pokemon: Soul Silver.  I really did.  I sit staring at a blank screen, taking in my impressions of the game.  Trying to separate my personal tastes and preferences from the subject matter so that I could review the game fairly.  (I am not much of an RPG fan but I know when reviewing one I have to think from the perspective of a RPG lovers so that I could see the game as a whole.)  From there I could find its strengths and its weaknesses and discuss them accordingly.

This is my process.  I analyze a game and really think about what I feel makes it stand out.  I try to take a break for a day or two between playing the game and reviewing it so that I will have time to let the game sink in.  Also, I *typically* try to finish the game before I review it…though on certain occasions I feel compelled to leave early when the game starts to feel more like work than play (see the Prince of Persia remake/reboot thingy for the PS3)

But all in all, I really do put a lot of thought into my reviews.  Anyone who has been reading my blog for any period of time may notice this as in the past year my average game review length has tripled.  I spend more time analyzing the games I play and I put deeper though into them than I ever have before.

But just what has caused this sudden interest in what makes games great?  Several sources, not the least of which is my good friend Earl whose love of cinema has evolved over the years before my very eyes.  I have watched him transform from a movie buff, to a movie nerd, to a true film critic.  And in many of the same ways I have followed the same evolution with my love of games.  (though I still have a long ways to go)

Another source of my interest in gaming can be attributed to a few key games, a few masterpieces, that helped to define gaming for me.  The chief of which would probably be the Zelda and Uncharted series.  Looking back, my review for Uncharted 2 is not very well written.  Granted, it is much better than my earliest reviews (my 151 word review of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 is one of my most shameful moments as a both gamer and as a writer) but it demonstrates a lack of understanding and it was only written 5 months ago.

Age and experience are also considerations.  I have been playing games since as long as I remember.  I grew up on Mario, Sonic, and Earthworm Jim.  But I never stepped outside of my “comfort zone” until I was near high-school.  I never played a large variety of games.  Sure I always had Mario and Sonic but my first encounters with Metorid was not until the Prime Series came out and I had not truly tasted the glory that is Zelda until only 9th or 10th grade.  (I am now in my second year of college, btw) but as soon as I was introduced into these series I began to devour them (especially zelda having played nearly 8 of the games in the series already…though I have only beat 5 of them…NES games are hard!…) and it was also around this time that I was introduced to more Mature games and the glory that is FPS.  (I just started Bioshock this week)  As I experienced more variety in the different types of games I started to realize what made them likable and that is when I really started getting into gaming as more than just a hobby.

But perhaps one of the biggest factors in my evolutions as a gamer is the gaming community.  Particularly IGN and Gamespot.  I have been reading their reviews for games for years and while I tend to agree with IGN’s reviews a little more, I love the gamespot community.  I love reading the soapbox articles and I love listening to the Hotspot.  The above mentioned factors prepared me to be able to look at games with a more critical eye but the gaming community game me the tools and the vocabulary to express what gaming means to me.

Now to some people this may all seem rather silly that I would put so much thought into a game, or a cartoon, or even a comic book.  And I can see their point, I recently read an interview with Stan Lee where he said “But when you think about it, a movie or a comic book or a video game, they’re words and they’re pictures, and there is something special about telling a story on two fronts”.  And he is right.  For thousands of years, people have been exploring fiction and these worlds of fantasy and make-believe have helped to define humankind as a whole.  These new forms of media are the newest forms of this and video games hold a special place for me because they allow an experience unlike any other, be it that you are saving a princess from a koopa, exploring the wonderful island of myst, or lobbing grenades at the enemy troops.

Looking back, I can see how these different aspects of my life allowed me to evolve as a gamer.  I went from casual fan to hardcore fan.  I am currently majoring in Computer Science in the hopes that I may one day become a game programmer.  And I am getting more out of my gaming experiences than I ever have before.  And these experiences have not just defined me as a gamer, as I feel I have been given a greater insight into fiction in general, and thus a better insight into the human condition and why we see the world the way we do.

And I want to thank you for that.  Thank you Earl for inspiring me with your film reviews.  Thank you Gage for lending to me some of the best games I have played.  Thank you IGN and Gamepot for giving me a source to turn to for gaming news, and for teaching me how to analyze a game.  Thank you game developers for making the games that turned me into a gamer.  Thank you wordpress for providing me with a place to write my thoughts down for the world to see (on all matters, not just videogames).  And thank you to everyone who reads my blog, your comments make my day!

Thank you all, as you have made me who I am today.

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What I'm Playing:

  • BioShock(PS3)
  • Super Mario World (SNES)
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