Video Games: The Illigitimate Literature
I don’t often publish reviews of video games, books, movies, or music simply because I don’t have the time to fully enjoy them in a timely manner. If I finish a book a year a few years after it was released I kind of feel as if it’s old news, and because of that I focus my energies not on writing a review but on starting another project. I’ve been replaying a number of video games lately, such as Bioshock and Fallout: New Vegas, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably won’t be writing reviews on any of them as I had initially intended.
Instead, I’ve decided to focus my efforts on finding a place for video games in the literary canon. Not all games can live up to the ideal of literature; indeed, like most forms of media 95% of what is produced is utter crap. The idea is to cut through the chaff and find the games that do. I don’t really have a large video game library, and I don’t have the time nor the money to invest in independent games, so I can only pursue a very select few games. Most of them will be in the science fiction genre, of course, given my affinity for speculative fiction.
That being said, I have already started with Bioshock by taking extensive notes on the two games and writing down some preliminary thoughts. I have also gotten my hands on several books for source materials on the philosophies of both games, including several works by Ayn Rand (who I am not a fan of but the bulk of the games center around her writings). I intend to treat the subject seriously and offer a reasoned analysis and, hopefully, a good argument that will ensure that video games can be taken seriously, much like movies and literature.
There will be those that disagree that video games should be considered art, or that they have provocative and meaningful insights into the world, philosophy, politics, or human nature. After all, what does Super Mario teach us about plumbers and what does the latest installment of Call of Duty teach us about war? Not much, honestly, and I can honestly say that, while entertaining, those games aren’t meant to be thought-provoking.
I will do my best to offer deeper insights into how video games explore age-old questions, and why the media of video games deserves serious consideration. They offer a more interactive experience, even though, like most mediums, they have severe limitations. Bioshock is limited by the fact that a studio has to offer an immersive and entertaining video game experience or they won’t make money on the game. Those limitations will be addressed and diffused.
Perhaps a mind more focused on artistic and literary analysis than my own (in light of my career endeavors) can invent a way to analyze video games specifically with more cogent and meaningful theory. My own writings will cobble together theory of analysis from different media, including movies, graphic narratives, and novels. I have my own interests when it comes to analyzing works, and I’ve found that the idea of familial bonds seems to stand out to me in a lot of science fiction works (including Mass Effect, Bioshock, and Battlestar Galactica).
I spent a great deal of time at the University of Michigan arguing about the legitimacy of science fiction as a literary genre. I now hold that view of graphic narratives and video games. I hope that my upcoming arguments are persuasive and, at least, not too flawed.