Video games: that modern way of telling us stories
Many anthropologists agree that telling ourselves stories is one of the most humane gestures there is, something we have done since ancient times, when we sat by the fireside listening to tales of terrible gods and mythological hunts from tribal elders. A role that, over the years, has been performed by countless human inventions, ranging from books and magazines to movies, television and, in more recent times, video games.
When the first video games emerged from the hand of computers, they were entertainment devices in the most repetitive and mechanical sense of the word. Ping pong games, shoot ‘em up games and pac-man games, all dedicated to providing an interactive experience based purely on reflexes, hand-eye coordination and the idea of scoring: the video game had no end, it didn’t tell a story, It did not illustrate anything other than the same exercise arranged more and more at greater speeds and difficulties. In other words, the video game was sterile, it was a form of distraction and it harbored an emptiness inside: it didn’t count for anything.
But that has changed a long time ago, or at least it has been complemented with narrative proposals that border on the artistic and literary, when they do not openly venture into it. Gone are the days when talking about video games referred to cell phone snakes, Windows solitaire programs or arcade slots in which children competed to leave their three initials in the high score hall of fame.
A narrative genre like any
As anyone with a console at home knows, contemporary games are complex forms of storytelling , designed to gradually introduce the player to a simulated world and a story that takes place there: from heart-pounding Hollywood space thrillers to nostalgic introspective adventures in a post-apocalyptic future, or military slogans that revive the great battles of yesteryear. Practically the same that the cinema offers today.
And yet the place of video games as a source of storytelling for modern generations is rarely acknowledged. It is enough to take a look at the growth of the gamer community and its growing importance within mass culture, or look at the average age ranges of current gamers (comfortably settled in adulthood) to realize that some cultural paradigms have been changing
People play video games and by doing so they demand more complex and mature experiences, more diverse and current. There are many proposals in the field that address crucial issues in current social, political and cultural discussions: identity, segregation, authoritarianism or the climate crisis, to name just the most relevant, are addressed in critical, sensible and responsible ways. within the world of many video games. In fact, a specialized, professional (or almost) critic has sprung up around them and is making its way more and more into the corridors of the academy.
Video games are a continuous source of stories for a generation less likely to read on paper, addicted to screens and the interactivity of the 2.0 world that the Internet brought with it. It would be unforgivably stupid if those who study stories, think about the way we imagine ourselves and the content we are sharing with each other, did not give video games their due attention and let themselves be carried away by prejudices of the 20th century that reveal , more than a supposed seriousness and traditionalism, a deep and unnecessary ignorance.
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