It’s no secret that I love video games. I have since the first time I saw Pitfall on the Atari 2600. Interacting inside another world is an amazing experience, one that I first tasted with the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which I ravenously devoured as a kid. And since those days of multi-pathed novels and 8-bit wanderings, the game scene has changed quite a bit, from VR to photo-realistic graphics that consistently blow my mind.
But it’s the storytelling that has really impressed me these past few years. I’m not just talking about the game scripts and dialogue that carry one through these digital worlds; the character design and world building have become monolithic, the orchestral scores and sound design on par with the best Hollywood films. It’s a medium that has only recently begun to get the credit it deserves and I think from here on out it will become more powerful and desirable than any m0tion picture.
So to begin, I’ll name just a few of the games that have really blown my hair back.
- Elder Scrolls Oblivion and Skyrim – To step into the shoes of a character and create him or her from the ground up is a powerful thing. Combine that with masterful writing in an enormous game world filled with hours of meticulously crafted lore, and you have something unbelievably special. Where else can I become a thief or assassin, or venture into the depths of darkness to become a wandering vampire preying on whoever crosses my path? These games carry the same weight as a great film or novel, accept you are now writing the tale, guiding and working toward an outcome that is yet unknown.
- The Hitman series – This was and is my all time favorite game series. You’re given almost no guidance as to how to take down your targets, and it’s that freedom which spawns numerous moments of pure adrenaline. Drop in some amazing ending moments, and you’re hooked into the moment, lock, stock and barrel.
- Fallout 3+4 – Like Oblivion and Skyrim, this is a game that is so large and layered, you could spend weeks simply roaming the landscape uncovering the countless story paths speckled throughout. Wonderful writing coupled with amazingly dark and dreary atmosphere make for one of the most in-depth and engrossing game experience I’ve ever had.
- Battle Field 1 – This is probably the most realistic, intense first-person shooter I’ve ever played. Want to be in Saving Private Ryan? Well here you go. I can’t remember the last time I sat on the edge of my seat while playing a game. The battles are intense and the detail is outstanding. A truly interactive experience that really puts you in the shoes of the soldier.
Recently, I played through the PS4 title, Mad Max, beginning to end. A rare thing I sadly confess. But let me say, it was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in a video game in quite a while. Not only did the designers and writers build atop the world created in the George Miller films, but they let, me, the player, roam the wasteland as I saw fit. And what a fucking ride. Also, they included a little tool within the game to capture and create photographs of your adventures. Below are a few of my favorites, which my boys and I took while playing.
In the future, perhaps we’ll have control over the films we watch, or perhaps even the books we read. I can’t wait to see. But for now, the men and women working in the game industry definitely deserve some major credit for the outstanding and creative work they’ve been doing these past 30 years.