Video Games As Literature

By: Kaitlyn

I’m a nerd, and as I’ve said before, I think that’s awesome and amazing and that nerds are fantastic. A large part of me being a nerd is all thanks to my brother.

If I’m a nerd, then my brother is a Nerd King. Seriously. Have you ever seen The Big Bang Theory? That is my life. They are my brother and his friends. Being my beloved twin brother, he has influenced me quite a bit. He’s probably one of the most creative people I know (not that I’m biased or anything) and uses that creativity in his career of being a web & digital designer/artist. Basically, he creates websites and video games.

Video games. I love video games; I play them all the time. There is an argument out there that video games are the bane of the world and are the sole reason for violence. Some people think that they serve no positive influence on our society. While my opinion about technology is all about moderation, I strongly disagree with those sentiments.

Video games can be way more than just randomly shooting people. The players need strong strategy and logic skills in order to solve difficult tasks or win a battle. But to me, the most important aspect of good video games is the story line that they contain.

As an English teacher, I’m always looking at different kinds of texts to teach in the classroom, one I think that’s never been explored is the text and literature of video games.

In the past few years of video games, storylines within the games are complex, intricate and just as enthralling as reading a novel. To be honest, the main reason I get sucked into playing video games is because I can’t put it down; I need to know what happens to these characters. The best part of these complex storylines is that it’s Choose Your Own Adventures on a grand scale. You are in the story and your decisions bring upon a chain of events and consequences. Playing a video game makes you question choices, themes, society, and critically look at different aspects of life. Hmmm…sounds a lot like analyzing a novel, does it not? You can take a video game and look at the hero journey of the protagonist. You take a video game and look at the imagery in the art before you. You can take a video game and take it to be much more than just a video game; it’s a reflection of life. Here are some of my favorite video games with engrossing storylines:

Mass Effect-Okay. So this is my favorite video game of all time. It’s the only video game that I’ve played where I sat down and then didn’t get back up until I finished it—oops. It’s much like a book binge reading. The story takes you, Commander Shepard, in a futuristic/sci-fi world. You are the only one who can defeat the Reapers from taking over the universe. Yes, it sounds like a simple and cliché story. But it is anything but that. The storyline is so complex and is always making you question good and evil. Are those lines so easily drawn or is there no such thing as someone completely good or completely evil? The greatest part of this game is the relationships between characters. As the player, you get to set the relationships you have with others in the game. Each character is riddled with backstory and mystery; you get to know each one on so many levels. And in the end, that’s what makes some decisions so heartbreaking.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic- I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so I had to play this game. I was so glad I did. Much like Mass Effect, the thing that made this game so fantastic was the characters. What is wonderful about them in this game is that you never really know who exactly they are and you’re always questioning their motives. (Major bonus: total man candy)

Portal-I have to be honest, I haven’t actually played this game. I’ve tried, but I’m horribly bad at puzzles and logic things (I’m easily impatient) so I quit. However, I have watched it being played many times and it is pure genius. Like I said, it’s full of insanely difficult puzzles built around a haunting storyline. There is a narrator, GLaDOS as you go on your journey, who is actually the antagonist. GLaDOS is an artificial intelligence that monitors and directs you in the hope that in the end you will reach your doom. I mean, it’s like Saw but with robots.

Video games are always being questioned. Are they a form of art? I can guarantee you that the work that goes into each frame of a video game is pure art. Are they a form of literature? Yes. These facts should never be questioned. No one should look at a video game and say, “Oh, those kids are just shooting each other. That’s not real literature.” Video games are a form of literature that is complex, personal and often-times eye-opening. Let’s never question them again: video games are valuable.

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Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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