Welcome to the videogames room of the cottage. Try not to trip on all the cables and find somewhere to sit.
Are videogames a form of art? Of course they are, in the same way that a novel, a symphony or a motion picture are.
Videogames can include two- or three-dimensional visual art, music, spoken word, text, stories, characters, dialogue and conflict. From text-only adventure games written in the Eighties to the most recent AAA blockbuster titles, they require much more than technical knowledge. They require the artistic sensibility of people like writers, (digital) painters, (virtual) sculptors, actors, musicians and more.
Incredibly talented people have produced great videogames in the past few decades. I have played a few, and if you don’t mind I’d like to tell you about some of my favourites.
I mainly play two types of videogames:
Strategy games, especially military strategy, like Hearts of Iron. Bear in mind that I am in no way a strategy genius. On the contrary: I like to play on the easiest difficulty setting, so I can just smash through enemy troops with minimal planning. I find it very relaxing. The Civilization series has a special place in my heart, because you can steamroll over enemy troops and also build anything from cattle pens to the Parthenon.
Games with a strong narrative element, such as text or point-and-click adventures, role-playing games and so-called walking simulators, where the story takes centre stage and the typical gaming elements play a secondary role, or are completely absent.
My current reviews focus on narrative games, because these have left the strongest impression on me.
If you played any of the games I mention and liked them too, why not contact me so we can talk about it?
A bit of background: I am an absolute sucker for coming-of-age stories. I love immersing myself in tales about those short, precious teenage years when doubts abound, but so do possibilities. There comes a point when something life altering happens, and you discover more about yourself and those close to you. A path is traced in front of you, but others you could have taken are closed forever. You know that something fundamental has shifted, and nothing will be the way it was. Important choices are made, and each of these choices may be the seed of future regrets.
I know, it’s a hopelessly naïve and idealised idea of adolescence. My teenage years were a painful, ragged valley of awkwardness and insecurity. No “coming of age” for me, just sort of dragging myself into adulthood. Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to these stories? To live the adolescence I never had?
These stories also tend to describe strong friendships that either continue from childhood or develop as the story progresses. I cannot help but think of the friendships I nurtured during my own formative years. Many faded with time, and I sometimes ask myself if I could have, should have done more to keep them alive. A precious few survive, but with people scattered around the globe. New friendships are not easy to come by, at least for someone like me: not in the sanitised environment of the corporate workplace, not in the fake arena of social media. But this is a story for another time.
These are the coming-of-age games that left the most profound impression on me:
- Gone Home (spoiler-free review)
- Life is Strange (spoiler-free review) and its prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm (also spoiler-free)
Eventually there will be reviews for all the games, with and without spoilers.