Welcome to another issue of the Purist! I hope you enjoy my breif contribution on a topic dear to me :3
Somewhere a few thousand hours into a hobby, I tend to ask myself why. I suddenly realize I am giving a massive, borderline unhealthy attention to an activity, and my brain just has to justify it. "Okay strike, you just spent the last 9 hours at a Melee tournament in a sweaty room with people you don't know in a venue two hours away from your house. You have a great reason for this right?" My brain is always asking silly questions like that. Of course I do! I'm just not quite sure what it is yet...
Hopefully I'm not the only one who asks these questions, who wonders why I do the weird things I do, why I enjoy the weird things I enjoy. I know I'm not.
This little article is about why I play video games. Because there comes a point (I'm on a forum about making Zelda games, writing an article about video games, and constantly checking Smash Boards) when I just have to stop and ask why. I hope by asking why, other people will ask why. And we can compare answers and maybe learn something. Maybe.
As a person, I could be described as artsy. Or artistically inclined. It depends on if I want to sound pretentious or not. I act, participate in my school's improv team, read as much as possible, love to write (mostly poetry), love to play the piano, and do other artsy stuff which I will not bore you with. On my list of interests, video games stick out like a sore thumb. When I tell adults I play video games, and when it occasionally comes up that I go to tournaments for a video game, people always think it's strange. Video games are perceived as such a crass medium. I know everyone reading this rightfully diasagrees, but people still feel that way. I can see it in people's eyes when I mention it. Like they are thinking, "why does he waste time doing that?" And next to my other interests, video games do seem out of place.
I don't think they are though.
When I ask why I like video games, I think of the games that have stuck with me the longest. I think of Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, the original Zelda, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Smash Bros. Melee (As a child I grew up on the GameCube, and now I swear by it). I still play Super Mario Sunshine and Melee all the time. In Super Mario Sunshine, I will literally just run around Delphino Plaza for an hour listening to music. And in Melee I like to beat people up and style on them. But why?!
In a weird, roundabout way, I express myself through video games. That's why I play them. From Double Dash to Minecraft, that's what it ultimately comes down to.
Video games let the player make choices, and often times, multiple options are right. Get this or get that, do this or do that: either way is fine. The way we choose says something about us. The classic, do we run through the castle palace, guns a-blazing, or do we sneak through killing all the guards? The answer is not superficial. And in many games, you truly make your own path. You might go through the castle in a way that was never foreseen by the game developers.
I always prize freedom in video games, but I have rarely questioned why. Freedom lets me be myself. That's "why" That's why I like nonlinear games so much and despise linear games to such a degree (Usually. From this perspective I realize why I don't dislike all linear games). I like to be able to do stuff in any order because I feel I have a choice: and choices reflect who I am.
I know this sounds cheesy, but this really is why I play games. I play Zelda because I like to do stuff out of order and impose weird challenges on myself. I dabble in Zelda Classic to show my evil and creative side. I play Super Mario Sunshine to just run around and do crazy parkour, interpreting the environment in ways other people don't. I play Melee to prove myself and to show just how much guts I really have. They all say something about me, just like acting or reading or writing say things about me. And I don't think the things video games say about me are trivial. They mean something. That's why I come back.
I want to know why you play video games. It may be totally different from my reason. I want to know why and what it says about you. Like I said, maybe we can learn something : )
Thanks for reading! Have a great day. Play some video games : )