Cameron's Story - Video Games and the Full Possibility of Creativity

A Story by Cameron Lee - DaBR Journalist

Video games always had a ‘special’ place in my life. I wrote this not intending it to be taken in a positive or negative way; it is simply a fact. It all started with a childhood friend who owned a handful of systems, which of course included the classic NES. I would go over to his house every Saturday afternoon, spending countless hours annihilating aliens, exploring dungeons and fending off hordes of enemies together.

My young mind was enthralled by games. The simple action of pressing a button could send hundreds of virtual soldiers to fight in your honor. I was appalled that such unrealistic characters could be given movement via my control! It was an entirely new world outside of the literary one in which I was immersing myself in at the time. I spent many hours playing video games, even into my young adult life, from assuming hundreds of identities, plundering planets to listening to the stories of thousands of characters.

Have you noticed a ‘problem’ yet? If I spent all this time playing video games, then what was my social life like? To be honest, there wasn’t much of one. I spent so much time in the company of non-physical characters that I pushed aside the real people in my life. It wasn’t until advice came from a good friend that I realized what I was missing out on.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a complaint about how awful video games are. Rather, it’s far from it. Video games have helped form who I am today; for better or for worse.  Even now, I will still play games every now and then despite the many amazing things there are to do in the real world. I love photography, rock climbing, cycling, writing, hiking and designing. Even with all these past-times that I enjoy doing, I still find value in playing video games every once in a while, dedicating precious time to indulging in new worlds, stories and lives of the digital variety.

If you can think of an idea or plot, it’s possible to create a game out of it. My personal favorite is the Bioshock series. An incredibly rich and interesting plot driven by a top-notch combat system which is responsive and satisfying to play. The haunting, damp atmosphere would immerse you into the gaming world with ambient sounds from the creaking and groaning of a superstructure left unmaintained. You had to make tough choices. You could receive an immediate reward for cruelly devouring the Little Sisters, therefore becoming a monster. Conversely, you could take the less-rewarding but more virtuous path of saving them then dying of old age.

Video games have shown me what creativity can do when given free reign to generate literally anything the mind can imagine into an interactive format. It is not just a story that you watch or read passively; it is a medium of art that lets you interact with it, changing the outcomes of the story due to your own actions. Have you ever wondered if you could successfully defend Carthage from the Roman legions? If ring shaped superweapons could destroy an entire universe if they were fired, purging all organic matter in an instant, could you lead a single super soldier to postpone the untimely end of life as your protagonist knows it?

Every activity has a time and a place; video games are no exception. My problem was that I was almost addicted to them at one point in my life, forgoing everything else in favor of them. When enjoyed in moderation, there is no more ‘danger’ associated with enjoying this medium compared to watching a film or reading a book. It is the enjoyment of art. Developers have created these pieces for us to engage with, to come about the conclusions on our own time on the players own merit, not the artists’.