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Why We Make Video Games

Sometimes it can be easy to forget why we make video games. For all of those people who have forgotten, or lost sight of the reasons, this article is for you.

Joshua Temblett, Blogger

July 21, 2011

7 Min Read

[This article was originally posted on the author's website, Candlelight-Studios.com.]

Sometimes it can be easy to forget why we make video games.  Perhaps you had a horrible day at work where one of your prototypes, which you put so much work into, got rejected.  Maybe you’re in crunch time and working incredibly long hours to get a project done.  You might have even just lost your job due to company cutbacks.  For all of those people who have forgotten why we make video games, this article is for you.

For the majority of us the reason we create video games is because at some point we played a video game and we were so blown away by it that we decided we wanted to create fantastic interactive experiences just like the one we had played.  I know this is the case for me. 

When I played Final Fantasy IX on the original Playstation I decided that I wanted to make video games.  There was just something about the characters, about the world, that drew me into the game.  The turn-based gameplay complimented the beautifully crafted environment and story.  This was the first time, in any media, I had felt so immersed in the world.

It took roughly 30 minutes for Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Final Fantasy masterpiece to make me want to create video games for the rest of my life.

Whilst Final Fantasy IX put the idea of getting into video game creation in my head, ever since Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, the first video game I played, I have been in love with video games.  At the time I was very young and I loved cartoons.  Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was just an amazing experience and I found it absolutely fascinating that I could control this cartoon character.  I was the controller of the outcome of this cartoon.  No one else but me. 

This idea of being able to control something magical, in this case a standing up, super fast, blue hedgehog, is the reason why I love video games and I believe is the reason everyone here loves to play video games. 

Video games give us the ability to control and do something which we would never be able to do in real life.  The majority of us have little control over our lives, this is just the way the world works, so having the power, for once, to be something different and to have some power over what happens is one of the reasons why so many people around the world play video games.

Stories, characters and environments are also the reason why people love video games.  Just look at the fantastic culture that has been built up around video games.  This culture celebrates the amazing nature of storytelling video games.

FMVs (fan-made music videos) are fine examples of how video games are celebrated.  Move Along, created by EclipsejpX of Gametrailers.com, was one of the first FMVs I ever watched.  The music video is made up of clips from a variety of Square Enix video games and is incredibly emotional, even more so if you know the characters from the games.  This video alone shows how connected gamers become to the characters they control. 

You can view the video here:

Move Along by EclipsejpX

Video games aren’t two hour experiences like movies.  Titles like Final Fantasy VIII contain forty to sixty hours of well written, well paced, storytelling.  This is something even intellectually received novels can’t boast.  It’s this long and rich experience with the characters in video games that creates a strong bond between them and the players. 

Gamers also have a shared interest with the characters.  Even in old games such as Super Mario Bros 3, the player and the character they control, Mario, have the same interest at heart.  Mario wants to save the princess; you, the player, want to save the princess too so that you can not only complete the game but see how the story ends.

This means that whenever the character you control dies, you feel for them. You don’t want to see Drake from Uncharted 2 die, because you have a strong connection with him.  You don’t want to see your character in pain, because they’re a part of you.

This is why video gamers get so attached to the characters they play.  There’s a reason why gamers were annoyed about the change to Dante in the new Devil May Cry game, because they have a bond with him.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that gamers don’t joke about their characters or the games they love.  Metal Gear Awesome 2, by Egoraptor of Newgrounds.com, is an excellent parody of the Metal Gear Solid series.  Its over-exaggeration of the characters and events of the game made it an internet hit among gamers.  Metal Gear Awesome 2 also highlighted some of the silly plot points, taking the mickey out of the slightly silly nature of the game.  This fan-made movie is clearly a sign of love and passion for a game series which is renowned for having deep story and character progression.

You can view the video here (PLEASE NOTE: Has lots of swearing and bad language):

Metal Gear Awesome 2 by Egoraptor

That’s not it though; there are even video game orchestras who perform music from gamers’ favourite titles.  The Video Game Orchestra, VGO, is one such orchestra who do fantastic versions of some of gamers’ most loved tunes.  Just listen to their version of Super Mario Galaxy: Wind Garden.  It will send shivers down your spine.

Super Mario Galaxy: Wind Garden by VGO

Perhaps the most endearing thing about the VGO is that they have fun, and you can tell that they’re enjoying themselves.  This isn’t a group of pseudo-intellectuals, this is a group of young people celebrating video games and enjoying their culture.  Just watch their version of Surf de Rock Chocobo and you'll see what I mean.

Surf de Rock Chocobo by VGO

Of course flash movies, FMVs and orchestras aren’t the only celebration of video gaming culture.  There are countless fan-fictions of players’ favourite video games characters, walkthroughs, comics, fan-made artwork, fan-made music, video game analysis and so much more.  All this comes together to create a culture which anyone can enjoy regardless of tastes.

It’s not just the connection to the characters and worlds of video games that creates this rich culture, it’s the connection the player can have with the creator.  In titles such as League of Legends, Riot Games (the creators of the game) frequently play matches with their player base.  They also ask for feedback on the game, and even joke with the players.  It’s this connection that the player has to the creator that creates something truly special. 

In fact players frequently form such strong bonds with the creators of their favourite games that they stand, almost heroically, by their side, supporting them and helping them in any way they can.  This level of devotion is something which cannot be matched in any other media.

So then, why do you create video games?  You make video games because there is nothing in the world like it.  You make video games because of the fantastic culture that surrounds them.  You make video games because you want to tell a deep, enriching story and create characters who the player will always share a bond with.  You make video games because you want create an experience which you can truly share with like minded people and which you can participate in together. You make video games because you want to give someone that feeling that you got from a certain game all those years ago.

Ultimately, there are too many reasons for why one creates video games.  It can be a rough experience creating one but every single time you get knocked down you just need to get up, brush yourself off and keep on going. 

After all, this is the only art form in the world which allows people to truly be something they can’t be.

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