You see, not only did The Legend of Zelda turn 35 in the last few weeks, Pokémon, another franchise near and dear to my heart, also celebrated its 25th anniversary the other day. The Pokémon Company (TCPi) released a delightful retrospective video as part of their celebration:
Anyway, more to the point, Pokémon was my first “real” video game, and it’s a franchise I have a lot of fond memories of, from battling against my neighborhood friends to hunting rare creatures on my college campus in Pokémon Go.
With nearly 900 of these cartoon creatures in existence, it seems nearly impossible to narrow it down to my top 25 favorite, but I’m gonna try it anyway.
Transistor was the first Supergiant Games title that I played, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I fell in love with its art, music, and mechanics that were unlike anything else I had ever played before. It was what opened the door for me to try Bastion and, later on, Hades.
Like Bastion, Transistor is also about decisions. However, it is not about how or why we choose one thing over another, but instead one’s right to make decisions at all.
Video games are driven by decisions. The primary thing that sets video games apart from film or literature is the level of interaction involved, and that interaction comes through making decisions.
These days, there are entire genres of video games dedicated to decision-making, like visual novels. Apart from that, making choices is still a core part of narrative-driven games in other genres.
Bastion, the first game developed by Supergiant Games in 2011, is a typical action RPG on the surface. Beneath that, however, is a well-written story that culminates in two very charged decisions at the end of the game. The final scenes of Bastion have stuck with me since I finished the game a few months ago, and today, I’m going to take a closer look at what makes the game’s conclusion work so well.
Since I’m discussing the end of the game, spoilers for Bastion are below! I highly recommend playing the game for yourself first, but if you already have or just aren’t really a gamer, click to read on.
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve shared my thoughts on how exclusive geek and gamer culture can be. If you missed everything I’ve said about it in the past, here’s quick summary: I think it’s stupid. Why should we be allowed to set such arbitrary rules about who is and isn’t allowed to enjoy a specific hobby? We’re only hurting ourselves.
Anyway, in the process of writing those many, many blog posts, I had a realization: if the right (or wrong) questions were asked, chances are, I’d be considered a “fake gamer.” Also known as: “Casual” or “noob.” This isn’t something that bothers me (if other people want to make hasty judgments, that’s on them), but I decided to compile a list anyway. You can think of it as my “gamer confessions” in a way, or just a list of reasons why the division between gamer and non-gamer is so ridiculously arbitrary.
Like with almost any label someone can apply to themselves (baker, photographer, reader, etc.), there seems to be some set of criteria for calling yourself a gamer, but no one knows what it is. What separates a gamer from a non-gamer? What’s on that mythical list of requirements? Today, I’d like to answer that question and finally put an end to these discussions.
Before I dive into that though, I want to give a shoutout to the wonderful people in the Geeks Under Grace community! I posed this same question in their Facebook group, and while these thoughts in my post are mine alone, discussing this topic with them helped me process some of my own ideas.