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 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. Vizzed.com, 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!