By Artie 11 Comments
EDIT: captions were removed from the images, and if I try to add them again it'll format the images to the left or right, wtf?
So this article seems to have a pretty rocky history. Originally it was written for my school newspaper since I usually write the movie review for the paper, but for the last issue of my high school career I wanted to write about video games. They allowed the article as long as it was something everyone could read and not just people who play games. I also wrote a Terminator Salvation review, but due to a mix up at the advertising section of the paper, but VG article was replaced with an ad, although my Terminator review was still in.
I was pissed that they ignored all my hard work and allowed a mistake like that to happen, but in reality I couldn't do anything about it. So in an effort to salvage my work (that I'm somewhat proud of and I've gotten good feedback on it to the few people I've shown) I uploaded the article to GameSpot and tried to get a User Soapbox spot. For one reason or another, that didn't happen. I was, and still am upset about that because of the dumb sh*t that's put up there all the time works great for them, but this doesn't? I was hoping they'd tell me why I was rejected.
Anyway, I kept this article from GB because I thought it would violate Soapbox rules or something, but now it doesn't matter. So here you go. Keep in mind this article was written for 40 year old teachers and 15 year old girls, that's who I had in mind when I was writing not any regular gamers. Feel free to give it a read. I'm sure it'll get four comments at the most:
From Interested to Infatuated: Introducing Video Games to NewcomersBy Artie Augustyn
There's one secret I've managed to hide from all of my friends: my obsession for video games. Ever since I was a young boy, back in 1997 when I first played a Nintendo 64 I had fallen in love with the medium as it became my new hobby. Unfortunately video games are probably the same reason why I have a horrible GPA and barley got into college, but I don't regret a second of it. So as a gift to all of normal people who don't play video games and don't get what they are, I'd like to attempt to open a few people's eyes to video games. I'm sure most people out there are aware of their existence, but have never garnered up the guts to sit down and actually play one. Most people probably associate video games as kids' toys that you "play with" but in reality they're capable of much more.
Before you dive into a fictional world made up of polygons and textures, you should probably have a reason to spend so much time and effort to enjoy video games. I personally believe that video games will one day join the ranks of literature and film as an "art form." Video games allow you to interact with the world you're put into whereas movies and books prefer to bring you along for the ride, as long as you don't touch anything. Because of this reason, video games can supply an experience that is totally unique and you may never get a second chance to try out.
The medium is still pretty young, with the initial creation dating back to 1972 when Pong was released almost forty years ago. When compared to cinema, forty years is nothing. The most renowned and well-known films such as Citizen Kane or The Godfather didn't even have scripts yet. Meaning there's still sometime for that one game to come out that changes everyone's mind about the industry and deem it "acceptable."
Similar to books and movies, video games also have genres and not every genre is for every person. There are plenty of games out there that are designed specifically for a demographic I like to call "Bros." These games are usually ultra-violent, extremely competitive, and very difficult to understand if you don't have a history playing them for a few years; games like Gears of War or Halo would be in this category.
There are also games designed for veteran players and have increased difficulty and try to challenge the player as much as possible; games such as Resident Evil, or Grand Theft Auto would fit in this niche. If you've made it this far into the article, you're probably not the type of person who would enjoy either "bro games" or "hardcore games." Luckily for you, there are more genres that are more fitting to your interests.
In addition to the previous genres mentioned there's also the "casual" market as well as the "hobby" market. Casual games consist of what most people think of when they think video games. Tetris, Pacman, Wii Sports, Peggle, etc. The "hobby" library consists of games that you've probably heard of before, but require a bit more skill than the "casual" games, such as Mario, Zelda, or The Sims.
So if you've never played a video game before, you're best off starting in the casual area. These games seem simple at first, but are fairly rewarding and provide a basic vocabulary for how games tend to work. There's usually a goal that you have to accomplish, and once you complete that goal you "win." This is a pretty vague description, but it has to be established at some point. Video games share a lot of similarities with books. When you were in first grade you weren't reading The Great Gatsby or even Harry Potter, they were far too advance and you'd lose interest and quit before you got to the good parts that everyone was talking about. Video games have a similar build-up.
Casual games are the "picture books" of the industry, very simple, very short, but enjoyable nonetheless. If you decide that you're intrigued by the concepts laid out during the early stages you'll want to upgrade to "hobby" games. Hobby games still stick to a simpler level of complexity, but they increase the scope. Instead of guiding Pacman through a maze and collecting white dots, you'll get to control Mario and guide him through a 3D world and collect coins and stars. Hobby games are what Harry Potter is to books. Pretty rudimentary when it comes to concept, but even if Harry Potter had the least complex language in the history of text: there are still 500 pages of it and it's going to take some time to burn through.
It's quite possible than many people out there in the world have already made their way up to a Mario game on their own without a guide like this one, but that's usually where the trail goes cold. These people usually don't know where to go next, and assume it's always the same thing and get bored of the hobby, which holds some water. Mario games have been around for 25 years and they're all practically the same thing, so if you played nothing but Mario for four years I could understand why you didn't feel so optimistic about future opportunities.
The unfortunate fact is hobby games don't even crack the surface of video game potential. Up till this point, every game mentioned flexes the players' reflexes and processing ability that you use to solve a jigsaw puzzle, which is fine, but they're capable of more intellectual thought. That's where "entry-level" games make their appearance.
Entry-level games (despite their misleading name) are for people who have grown to understand how games work. These games focus more on what to do, rather than how to do it. The games to check out in this category include Prince of Persia, Fable 2 and Shadow of the Colossus.
The French developed Prince of Persia follows the tale of a scruffy thief traveling through the desert during ancient times when he stumbles upon a young woman who is in the midst of trying to save her kingdom from an ancient evil. This fantasy-filled, character focused story is for anyone who enjoys a good teasing love story with an ending you won't see from Hollywood.
Fable 2 designed by British developers takes place in a fictional world entitled "Albion" you play as a Hero in the world who must fight off a corrupt King whose ambitions to save his deceased family turn into a quest for world-domination. Fable takes a lot of its atmosphere and storytelling from classic children's books fairy tales.The unique aspect of Fable is the long-lasting ramifications your decisions make. At one point in the game the player is asked to help a sheriff arrest some hoodlums in the town; if the player helps the town turns into a booming richville ten years down the line, but if they refuse the place turns into a dump filled with crime and prostitution.
Finally Shadow of the Colossus is another fantasy story coming out of Japan. A teenage boy brings his recently deceased love to a temple and begs the gods to restore her life. One god responds and says he will only return her to life after The Wanderer has destroyed 16 colossal stone giants in the fields. This is a story that's told primarily through visuals and atmosphere keeps the player thinking both logistically and creatively. After all, what did these sixteen giants do to deserve death?
If any of those three concepts sound interesting to you, than hopefully I've inspired someone to make the commitment and try out video games for the first time. If you're interested in playing any of the games I've mentioned you'll have to buy the game, and the console that it's for. Just write down the game you're interested and go to your local Best Buy and say "I want to play ________ how can I do that." Or if you want some more personalized buyer's advice I suggest emailing me at artie[at]talkxbox[dot][com] I'd be glad to answer your questions.
Even if you don't go so far as to playing games, perhaps you'll think twice next time you see an uninformed FOX news report about how they're "destroying the youth." If you do that much, I'll be a happy man.