Video Games: A Better Emotional Trigger Than Books?

This article is also known as I’ve Just Completed Starcraft II On Brutal Difficulty, Booyah!

Ok, cool video right! That has nothing to do with my post actually. I just love it so much.

But whether you’re a gamer or not, you’ve got to admit that some of the best and most epic plots in science fiction today come from video games instead of movies or books. You don’t understand the meaning of epic until you’ve spent years witnessing the dramatic rise and fall of the Lich King in Warcraft, spanning five games and tens of millions of active players, or gripping your seat as the cinematic in-your-face story-telling of the Call Of Duty Series plays out. When I think of epic today, games come to mind, not movies or books.

Granted, most games are still filled with cheesy B-movie dialogue and lots of inconsistencies, but when it comes to inspiring zealotry and loyalty amongst its fans, few books or movies come close to the audience that video games have. Proof? Here’s a scene from the Starcraft 2 launch. The last time I saw something like this, a little something called the iPhone was launched.

Image

I’ve just completed the latest instalment of Starcraft 2, called Heart Of The Swarm on the highest difficulty setting, and I’m writing this post because I’m still tingling from watching the final cinematic after a brutal one and a half hour battle bringing the entirety of my Zerg Swarm against the unscrupulous Sons of Korhal. That makes absolutely no sense to you right? That’s because you haven’t spent the last 14 years of your life waiting to bring down these sons of bitches.

14 years. That’s how long it took Blizzard, the company behind the series, to bring the core storyline to a close, and I have enjoyed every last minute of it. My heart is still pumping, my adrenaline is still doing somersaults, and I feel very much alive. I don’t remember feeling like this after watching the Avengers or reading Harry Potter.

Lots of Lasers

Lots of Lasers

Many people think it’s just a game, pressing buttons over and over again until you win. I’ll like to tell you now that’s it not. Games, as silly as it sounds, are more than just about the gameplay. It’s about living a story in a beautifully crafted world and going on some insane adventure. You know, pretty much like reading a book. But with over the top visuals, overly dramatic voice acting and horrible reading off a script, just like an audio book! We’re willing to put up with shitty gameplay if there is a compelling reason for us to keep going. Most of the time that means a solid storyline. If you don’t believe me, ask any Final Fantasy fan out there. *cue evil laughter*

Starcraft is ten years in the making. Discussion boards, forums and fan fiction tide us diehards over while we drool and argue over every single detail and leak. And when it finally gets released, grown man can get all emotional and teary when they finally get their hands on their shiny new boxes of the game depicting a zombie-like woman with eight spines growing out of her back. Aside from Harry Potter and Twihards, which other books or movies can claim the same level of emotional attachment and excitment? As a product, all the way from development to the satisfaction that its give to the end-user, games seem to be able to go one level deeper than other forms of media.

Zerg Attack!

Zerg Attack!

Perhaps it just reminds me of younger, more carefree days. Starcraft was a game I started playing when I was 16, now I’m 30. That’s half of my life following what I would call, the science fiction universe of my generation. The 80s had Star Wars and Tron, the late 90s have Starcraft and Halo. And for the fans of Starcraft, Heart Of The Swarm also brings something very important to any overarching story – Closure.

You see this installment effectively finishes the story started more than a decade ago in the head on some kooky writer. When was the last time you had to wait a decade for an anticipated sequel?
More importantly, Heart of the Swarm gives a GOOD kind of closure. The one where you feel satisfied and fulfilled, but wouldn’t mind coming back for more. One door closes and another one opens, not like the crappy conclusion of Harry Potter and Twilight *cue more evil laughter.*

Yet, the wider public continues to put down video games as some form of sensory overloading experience without much substance, while touting how much better it would be to spend the time reading. What gives? If you’re one of these persons out there that strongly believe that video games are ‘bad’ forms of media, I’ll like to ask you why haven’t you tried living in the World of Warcraft, taking a spin on the Hyperion in Starcraft II or follow the antics of Soup and Captain Price in Call Of Duty. Game worlds that, in my opinion, totally rock the socks off Hogwarts and whatever planet Star Wars plays on.

If you are depressed by the devolution of the reading world with the continued success of Twilight and 50 Shades, why not take a gander and explore the world of videos games. The industry is going from strength to strength melding the visual magic of cinema with plot lines that rival that of Game Of Thrones any day. It’s just a matter of picking the right titles.

I’ll probably regret this post when the rose-tinted glasses of my level 70 Kerrigan blasting through a fleet of battlecruisers comes off, but for now, I’m happy. Satisfied. Fulfilled. Some of the best stories I’ve experienced in the last few years came not from books, but from my Xbox and my Mac. If you are a proponent of stories and detest gaming, then I’ll just shake my head while secretly gloating in the fact that the fictional worlds I’ve been too are far richer than any of yours.

And with that, I’ve leave you with another cinematic of the game that wraps up one of the best moment of the original game. Enjoy.

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One thought on “Video Games: A Better Emotional Trigger Than Books?

  1. Congrats! My 18 year old son has been into Starcraft for many years and he just loves it. Why don’t I get into WOW? I’m afraid I’ll get so addicted that I won’t have time to write! Great post 🙂

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