November has always been an exciting time for me. Students get to go home for Thanksgiving, the semester is coming to a close, and a multitude of great video games are released to distract us from our studies. Not that I support neglecting work, but playing through a new story is always refreshing and it makes the doldrums of daily routine more exciting.
I am not alone in this sentiment. According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, 67 percent of U.S. households played video games in 2010, and the average age of the most frequent video game buyer was 39. These statistics are most likely inflated by parents who buy games for their kids, but they still support the idea that people of various ages are paying attention to the new games being released for the holiday season.
With that said, I am posed with a question: if video games are so prevalent throughout society, why do we not treat them with the same reverence as films or literature? I have taken classes on film, what movies mean, and how they impact society. I have done the same ten-fold with literature. Yet I have never heard anyone critically examine the themes of a video game.
Ages back, story-telling was done verbally, passed down from generation to generation. Then, story-telling evolved with the advent of written word. For centuries, this antique method provided exciting, deep tales that impacted all humanity. Then came the cinema, a brand new form of story-telling. This, too, evolved and has become a staple of culture in America. Both literature and film are deeply analyzed and revered on a highly intellectual level.
But not video games.
Gaming is still relatively new, so maybe society just hasn’t recognized it as the next evolution of story-telling; however, it contains just as much story-telling prowess as any other method. For the first time, audiences can interact with the stories being told to them as if they were part of the story.
It is time for gaming to be considered more than just a past-time. If society sees video games for what they are: a new means of discovering truth– as is the purpose of all great art– then not only will we get more out of video games, but we will also force developers to think more critically about the games they create, improving the product and further enhancing the experience.
Until then, I am going to eagerly anticipate November and all the new stories that will entertain and teach me… as soon as I finish my homework.