As this is the first entry in this blog, I thought I would make be about something that I really care about: storytelling.
When I was younger, I was like most others (boys, mainly). Running, jumping, climbing trees (Those of you that read that list in the voice of Mr. Izzard, congratulations) etc. As I slowly discovered the wonderful world of books, I got into horror and thrillers – as they were the most exciting and readily available books. They provided the quick fix that my young and easily distracted mind yearned for.
As my mind grew, and the books that had entertained it, apparently, grew increasingly boring, the interest for storytelling faded. That changed one fateful Sunday morning. I woke up and turned on the TV, seeing a blond girl beating up strange looking creatures. “What is this?” I thought. A quick look at the teletext informed my that what I was watching, was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Not only was the writing quick and witty, but the lore was fascinating and gripping – and most importantly I CARED. After only an episode, it had its hooks in me. I cared about the lore, I wanted to know all the things they were talking about and I cared about the characters. They would make me laugh, wait scratch that, they would make me laugh WITH them. I wouldn’t just laugh because Xander said something daft but poignant, but because that was so Xander!
After (or rather during) Buffy, came Angel. The dark and brooding character I had cared so much for, had gotten his own show. And not only that, the two shows were connected in ways I had never experienced before. There was of course references between them, and some story carried through, but whole characters transferred and interacted across shows. In my opinion, the best example of that interaction is one of the first acts of cross-show referencing. A simple phone call. I thought it strange that Buffy received a phone call and no one was at the other end, but hey, weird stuff happens all the time. Then when I saw Angel sitting in the dark, picking up the phone and calling someone. That quietly blew my mind. Such a small but important action. A whole episode of Angel leading up to a phone call that was glanced over in Buffy. Suddenly, even small acts has a certain gravitas. I was amazed – and still am as you might have noticed.
Having watched Buffy and Angel several times (and bought the series), I started to wonder: What else is out there?
The answer was Firefly. It was glorious. Short, but glorious. Like Buffy and Angel before it, I fell in love with the universe, lore and characters. But unlike Firefly’s predecessors, it was cut down in its prime. A new felling emerged. Anger. Not about anything in the show, but about the show in general, or rather the LACK of show. I was angry that there was no more, I had only gotten a glimpse of what COULD have been, and I was denied entrance into this splendid universe, just waiting to be fleshed out. Nothing has ever really filled the void that Firefly left behind. The movie tried, but that just made me want more. Alas, there are comics, but none are available in my country. It has scarred me, but it’s a scar that I wear with pride. I’m proud to have loved that show, and proud to have felt the anger connected to its cancellation.
All hope was not been lost however. There were other genres and other platforms to be entertained by. One of the fastest growing was (and still is) gaming. I started on console (Playstation), with Gran Turismo and Tekken 2, at about the same time that I was really engaged in Buffy and Angel. The games never really got me in the same way. They were fun, but not engaging. Only with the first PC game I played (on my own PC), were my eyes opened. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Repulic. Excitement was felt, and I cared about the lore. The characters were still in progress. The first game that really showed that gaming could be the refuge that series and books were before, was Heavy Rain. Though not as funny as Buffy, Angel or Firefly, it made me feel. It made me feel sad, frustrated and helpless. But those were feelings none the less. Buffy and Angel had shown me, that even sadness could be beautiful. It meant that you were connected to the characters. The epitome of storytelling.
Most people don’t like being sad. No kidding. But it’s to rare that people stop and appreciate being able to feel sadness. Whether the feelings stem from connections or lack thereof, it shows who you are. Some people, like me, don’t seek out connections, and are in fact perfectly happy with next to no connections to the world. But most of the people on this planet yearn for connections with others. It’s easy to forge connections in the real world. Whether good or bad, you connect to people, animals and objects. It’s not so easy in the world of games, books, cinema and TV, but when it happens, it’s wonderful. It’s only lately that emotionally driven gaming has gotten sure footing, and started to spread.
The latest instalment in emotionally driven gaming, is The Walking Dead game for, well, pretty much all platforms. There are not many games that I would label as “must play”, but this is one of them. Go ahead, buy and play it. I can wait.
For those of you that actually went and bought it and played it just now, you’re awesome!… and a bit weird – but mostly awesome!
It’s a game filled with small laughs, big decisions and very emotional sequences. You might be left with a sense of dread and a lingering sadness, but think about it. Somethings that’s not even real, has made you laugh and cry, and possibly even made you grow as a person. That is truly beautiful, wonderful and amazing.
I hope that at least someone has reached the bottom of this article, and enjoyed my rantings a little bit.