The next couple blog posts will be on my experiences and thoughts with varying forms of storytelling and their influence on writing. Reading is heavily influential on writing, after all writing begets writing. Writing stories is not just about novels. Television, movies, and videogames all involve this process.
I’ve been playing videogames since I was six years old. It didn’t take long to learn about the stigma around the hobby. Those who play videogames are often thought of as lonely childish men living in their parents’ basement. Adults who haven’t played games before tend to think they are for children only, despite a good portion of them rated mature.
As a medium, videogames have evolved considerably since the 80s and 90s when they started to gain popularity. Back in the day, story was secondary to gameplay, if it was even existent at all, outside of RPGs. Now, compelling and inspiring stories are told through videogames, and subsequently are fuel for writing stories of my own. Even when the story isn’t explicit through cut scenes or a plethora of text to read, certain series do it masterfully through the gameplay itself. Castlevania, Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda games are just a few examples.
Sure, videogames are abused by some folks. I had a roommate in college that would play World of Warcraft for 48 hours at a time sometimes. He would rarely go to class and practically lived in front of his computer screen playing games. Spending hours a day neglecting responsibility has been associated with videogames, along with provoking violence. However, that is by far the minority. Anything can be abused. Television certainly is and has been since its invention. I would even submit even reading for hours and hours on end isn’t healthy either. Why? We may be working our minds while reading but we are still sedentary.
Videogames are a way to gain visual inspiration just as television shows with deep stories. Authors who are gamers shouldn’t be ashamed of, in fact we should embrace it as a means to dive into a world rich with inspiration.
The Tolkien era of Fantasy had brought us villains who were evil for the sake of evil. Their motives were pretty much they wanted to destroy the world because they were evil and nothing more was really known about these antagonists. That was the point, they represented the force of evil more than being individual characters with motives. In a few stories this works, but now there is a call for more depth to the villains of the stories. Generally, now there are antagonists with motives and backstories, and just like reality these people tend to not see themselves as evil but as saviors.
History is rife with horrible rulers of both nations and organizations. Some of these people were like Sauron who simply wanted to dominate others without sympathy or empathy for anyone else. Others though were more like Darth Vader, horrible people who saw themselves as protectors or necessary such as Valad The Impaler.
How often do we do things that are wrong and justify it in our minds? Taking that line of thought further, how often do we glorify our ideological positions while demonizing the “other” side? Sure we may not be killing anyone or desiring to, but isn’t that a similar train of thought that these evil people in history and fiction acted on? I’m not saying everyone who dug in their heels and stood up for their convictions is akin to a villain, but just that it is easy to continue down the rabbit trail and become so blinded by ideology empathy no longer remains. This is especially common in political spheres from 2015 to present in America.
Certainly, there are things we all disagree with. That is okay, in fact it is necessary for anyone who has a spec of critical thinking and morality. With the advent of the internet it is becoming easier to live in an echo chamber and grow angrier at those who are outside of your thought circle. Hope is only found in those who agree with you and me, while despair and the end of the world comes in the form of those that dare think differently. To me, it looks like there is less nuance in our culture than there was even ten years ago. People are ready to sever ties with friends and even family because of differing viewpoints because their beliefs are “dangerous.” With this mentality, called Tribalism, which I addressed in previous blogs, it is only opening the door for a real evil to rise to power. As freedoms erode the people will cheer that person on because “their” person was in power, not the “other” side. Of course, the opposite group will do everything they can to oppose the person in power, but perhaps it won’t be enough. This is hypothetical, and not a subtle dig at the current president or any before him. I know that some already view him in this light, but that isn’t what I am referencing. In an environment where people are looking to be offended or read into their own bias, I feel that is necessary to state.
Fiction is meant to teach us. To help us ponder our own actions as well as the happenings within our own culture. Let us actually implement the lessons from history and fiction, lest we create a monstrous world we cannot undo.