As far back as I can remember, I’ve been involved in video games since I was ten years old. I first remember when my sister bought me a Nintendo 64, with a few N64 classics such as GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, and Super Mario Brothers ’64. I remember GoldenEye didn’t work because the cartridge was scratched on the inside and the N64 wouldn’t recognize it. But to my luck I still had two other games to dive into. I played the death out of both Perfect Dark and Super Mario Brothers ’64 and couldn’t get enough, then it jumped to WWF No Mercy, where my days soon became nothing more than wrestling, wrestling, wrestling. After awhile I jumped to a first generation GameBoy, playing the Red, Blue, and Yellow versions of Pokemon. Then it jumped to the Playstation 2 (I jumped the PS1 for some unknown reasons), where my gaming collection really started getting underway. Games such as WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain, The Lord of the Rings, Jak & Daxter, and other huge classics were instantly burned into my memory (and to this day still are).
After a few years of the PS2, the Xbox soon took precedence. It took the Xbox a little while to adapt due to the already huge library building up for my PS2. As I aged, the desire for more complexity grew, and I slowly edged over to the Xbox when it came to Fable. This was very interesting to me for a game that was so different than what I previously played. The Xbox collection soon started blooming after Fable came in, and on Christmas of 2004 I officially began playing Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. And trust me, I didn’t play anything else for at least a full year after that up until the Xbox 360 came out. Jump forward to November of 2005, when the Xbox 360 was released. That was a crucial part in my video gaming career because in order to jump from all the systems I already owned, I would have to sell them, or at least sell the Xbox seeing as how I could play the games I already owned on the 360. So I ended up selling the Xbox and focused primarily on the new version, the future of gaming back then. Over the years I then purchased a first generation PlayStation 3, sold it not one year after I bought it to a close friend of mine, then went back to Xbox 360.
As of today I currently own a 2007 Elite Xbox 360 and a third generation PlayStation 3. I did buy another one primarily for the Blu-ray feature, but I still buy and play games on occasion. And I’ll run both these consoles until they are nothing but nuts and bolts.
With my gaming career mostly summed up in the basic understanding kind of way, I want to also take the time to go into detail about a certain topic that I wanted to express about gaming. Gaming, in it’s own thriving community, is an interesting realm for potential. While the parts can be narrowed down to development, technical, and concept, the real power behind gaming lies behind the artistic quality within. Each game was created by art, whether it be through digitally applying all the detail to constructing the art that inspired levels and even to writing a coherent story with likable characters, they all are the product of dedication and hard work.
Of particular interest is a game called Alan Wake. Originally conceived back in early 2005 for the Xbox 360 and developed by Remedy Studios (the creators of Max Payne), it took several years to actually hit store shelves. It originally had three separate release dates scheduled for Spring of 2006, pushed back to Summer of 2007, then to Spring of 2008, then was never heard from again until E3 ’09, where it was slated to finally be released Spring of 2010, which it was on May 18th. The long development cycle was mainly due to the technology put into the game, such as motion capture and deciding whether or not to render the whole game in an open-world environment or make it linear, but at the same time make it open to the player. Looking at it from a designer’s point of view, the artistic choices came down to telling the story through an episodic format, much like a television show. Another key decision was choosing between open-world and a linear world, and it ultimately came down to linear, but with some sweet bonuses. Although each episode takes place in a limited area for the player to explore, the developers digitally mapped, designed, and created a living, breathing world where everything was connected, to the town, trailer park, gas stations, endless wooded areas, various cabins in the woods, and mines. It was all one huge world without giving the player the freedom to roam around. When one thinks about it it’s pretty daunting, as it adds a huge layer of realism.
Decisions like these are art. The developers obviously thought everything through in because they wanted their game to stand out, which it did. But they also took their precious time with it, guaranteeing that everything stuck together and the end product resulted in something extraordinary. Not many games go through this process unfortunately, but the ones that do are always promising in my opinion. Even if the higher levels of society mock some games by being blamed for senseless violence and inspiring others to perform violent acts, the one key piece remains: behind every design is lies an artistic quality.
I’m very applicable when talking about video games. They aren’t “pointless getaways for wasting time”. If one actually took the time to admire and reflect on all the troubles most developers goes through to deliver a game before its deadline, they would actually come to appreciate the comfort of the controller in their hands.