Gaming My Life Away

I grew up playing video games. I played Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and then the Playstation. The gaming experience improved my story-telling abilities. Especially RPGs—role playing games.

I played Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Zelda—A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX and X, and then by the time I gave up gaming I was absorbed in Phantasy Star Online. Games like Spyro the Dragon, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and Grand Theft Auto finished the deal. They're as good as books as far as story, but also contain an interactive level that books and television don't have.

In all the thousands of hours I played I was learning a valuable lesson. For me, books and movies are inferior because they're passive. A game offers interaction, so the story is stronger. I understand the mechanics better because I was part of the process. Books taught me how to write stories down, but games taught me how to tell them in the first place.

Games couldn't be boring, and what made a game boring was a bad story. For a story to be good, I had to feel like I was part of it. The story had to be good enough to connect me, and keep getting better to hold my interest. The climax had to be big enough, important enough, to make me want to play again.

Games taught me characterization. I understand now why I loved certain characters in my favorite games. Most were stereotypes, but they had enough of their own nature to help me relate to them. I know now, because of gaming, that characters have to have a past, a reason to be right now, and something to look forward to in the future.

The best games were the ones with something on the line. It could be the fate of the world, or a character's own survival, but it had to be something. There had to be conflict, twists and turns in the plot, and mystery—and clues for me to figure out. Games taught me that the best stories aren't passive, but active. As a writer, I can't just tell the story. I must involve the reader.


As important as games were to me, my favorite ones are old. They're not sold in stores anymore, and some have become collector items. I wish I could play them again just for the nostalgia. The internet has provided me with the chance to retrace my old steps. Many games are being uploaded to play for free online., which I just discovered on Saturday, offers many of my favorite RPGs. I'm sure there are other sites out there. I'll continue to search for my holy grail: Final Fantasy VII!

I want to relive the stories. I want to be part of the emotions again. I want to be the hero just one more time!

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9 Responses to Gaming My Life Away

  1. Guess I was a little old when the gaming started, I already had kids when Atari hit, played Mario with my kids on Nintendo, Never saved the Princess. I made it through beetles and and all the levels, but never rescued her...Played some Tetris, got pretty good and Sonic on Sega. I bored quickly and easily leaving it to the children. Little did I know what the games would have to offer later... Great post and I do see your point, even if I am old.

  2. Tetris is a great game! It's a lot of fun for me to reminisce about the old games :)

  3. Yep! Wasted a lot of time with Tetris - so mesmerizing.
    I could never get good enough at the controls to really play well with my kids on these games, but they did have fun with them.
    I love the fact you were able to learn so much from the games that had strong characters and a purpose or mission. They involved you, which, as you said, is exactly what an author must do for his or her reader.
    Excellent reflection, J. R.!

  4. Although I couldn't relate much I liked how you've drawn a lot of lessons from playing "games". It is interactive, I agree although I get my inspiration more from the books I read.

    I know Mario... well, my niece and I played Plants vs. Zombies but I'm not sure if I got much from that except nightmares lol.

    Anyways, I'll read this to my nieces and the children I teach. This is a more positive way of looking at the games they play in the net.

  5. It all depends on the game, Melissa. RPGs lend themselves well to stories, while games like Donkey Kong Country or Super Mario World don't. My experience with most online games--games specifically created for the internet, are not as positive as the games I played back in the mid-late nineties, whether they're advanced MMORPGs or just Facebook flash games...they lack story, and rely on their graphics and "quests" to entice players. But then I compare every game to Final Fantasy VII, and that's not fair XD

  6. I cant connect with it but it is always interesting to know the routes another has taken to be where they are today

  7. Yep! I had my gaming days, Atari, Nintendo, DS, PS 1- PS3, Wii, Xbox 360...

  8. Over the years I've wasted too much time playing video games but oh what fun!! I grew up with Joust, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Tron. etc and inserted quarter after quarter to defeat these addicting machines. Later games like Lords of the Realm captured my fancy then on to Medal of Honor and other shooter games. These days I'll waste time with Angry Birds or other simple ganes that're over in a few minutes....

  9. One thing I'm sure about games is that they give immense pleasure :D

    Nice n different take on Gaming...


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