The Various Gaming States Of Mind
I do like to begin my articles with a question. Are you ready for your question? I just asked a question regarding the specific amount of readiness regarding the previously mentioned question. Isn’t it wonderful? (Another question.) Get ready, strap on whatever you need strapped on and let’s get going.
What is an emotion? According to the guys with the white bathrobes working in labs; it’s a mix of chemicals released causing you to be a sad panda or a happy-go-lucky, spring-legged clown fish. Emotions are powerful stuff. Stuff that shouldn’t be underestimated. Never, ever, ever underestimate our beloved serotonin. If you are indeed not a robot, cyborg and/or alien; you will understand when I say that emotions are something we face everyday, whether we like it or not. (+10 “Obvious Remark Skill” for me.) We face these chemical induced fellas all the time, be it during work, gaming, sports or even imagining our favorite dish with salivating results.
I wish to focus on the gaming aspect as this is not a psychological source of information. Please make yourself comfortable and tell me all your deepest, darkest and festering secrets… I mean, if you look at all the emotions while playing games, there is a wide variety of adventures one can have in the comfort of your very own shelter. One enters another mind state and is transported to another awesome realm where the possibilities are endless. Let’s talk mind states, everyone.
Exploring a forgotten dungeon or forest for 400 year old loot and a mystical treasure-trove full of… well… treasure. This causes an everlasting itch forcing us to explore. Exploration and hunting for secrets are ideal for the RPG-crowd, wanting to quest the crap out of the chosen game. Out of personal experience, I found this adventurous-nagging-itch-like-sting when I played The Witcher 2, Borderlands and the Uncharted series. Look around every nook and cranny to find another shiny doohickey that will ease the nagging of your chemical-soaking nervous system. For the virtual-adrenaline-junkies out there, Uncharted’s set-pieces are a ton of fun.
Mystery can, in some ways, go hand in hand with adventure, not knowing what might be around the next corner or colossal boulder, this keeps the player on the edge of their seat and we can always hope for a new surprise. When I played F.E.A.R. for the first time, I was blown away. The amount of mystery you experience before going around the next corner, tied together lovely with a tension-infused bow, was great. (More to follow on tension.) Preparing for the worst when it wasn’t needed or just galloping around the next corner forgetful of the creepy-ass little girl with her teddy bear; causing your ass to plummet downwards. I love it when a game makes me think that I know what is going to happen next, and then, once again causing my ass to plummet with a wake-up call. Another brilliant candidate that infuses adventure, tension and mystery in a brilliant fashion is Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Holy crap!
Speaking of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, I can truly commit to it being a tension-building beast. I’m going to assume that nobody in real-life craves tension. Or at least I hope so. But in games I think it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m one that craves titles such as Amnesia, F.E.A.R. and Dead Space. It’s something that tenses me up, but in a good way. I’m not sure that it can be good, health-wise, but I make up for it building stuff in Minecraft. Ah, the art of chopping wood… It’s awesome. Getting side-tracked here. I know of a lot of people out there that will avoid the horror genre without wondering about it in the slightest, and I respect that, but I want my horror-dose in gaming every now and then. I’m currently playing Clive Barker’s Jericho again and I must admit, it’s not causing me to jump in my seat, but the amount of tension is astounding. The first Dead Space game made my heart race. I’m not over-reacting. Those background noises… I couldn’t play it for too long at any given time, because it was something I never played before, and the immersion was stunning. All blended in so nicely, that I was ready to dismember my next-door neighbor, if a necromorph outbreak occurred. Play it, you will need new chair after playing that. Your behind will gnaw at your beloved chair like there is no tomorrow. (Please don’t come back to me saying it was: “meh”, because you will be lying.)
For all those self-inflicting, masochistic, challenging people out there, may I recommend a good puzzle game that tickles our puzzle-solving craniums? I do enjoy a challenge but I cannot do that to myself the whole time. If you want some memorable and fantastic puzzlers, look no further. Please note that there is a difference between a challenge and hair-pulling frustration. I do not want to be killed 700 times before reaching the next checkpoint. Lots of people can play a game on the most excruciating difficulty and maintain their controller or keyboard intact, while their thoughts remain the same, and not about butchering any cats in the name of an evil spirit.
I love just being able to stare at a game any given time, thinking: “Purrdy…” It’s very easy to get entranced into a gaming world that simply looks great. I’m going to hop back, and probably continue hopping back to Prince of Persia from 2008 when talking about visuals. Call me a fanboy, I can take it. Especially when it’s made from pure awesome. All kidding aside, I do love me some mighty fine looking visuals. (Re-read that last part with a Western-Cowboy-ish accent. And no, I’m talking about pretty games, not just some skin magazines just lying around in my room with no apparent or definitive reason.) It’s so much easier to feel happy while playing a game when it’s incredibly easy to look at. There is nothing wrong with super realistic visuals, but the ones that stand out of the crowd is something new or unique, for example Prince of Persia, Trine 2, Borderlands and the list goes on. A personal favorite is the desert sequence in Uncharted 3. I mean, the man is suffering and obviously very, very thristy. Give the man a damn drink. Sorry, I’m looking at the pretty now, OK?
What is nostalgia? What kind of fluid is responsible for this little gremlin? I don’t know, and I prefer to keep it a mystery, but is nostalgia always a good thing? I know a big allotment of people being disappointed by their favorite game on the planet after playing it again, years later. It’s sad, but also factual. I searched my ass off; looking for Grim Fandango. I got it after looking for three years. How mad I was after selling it. Why did I do that? But, I have it back and I started playing it again the other day. It’s still great. Retro visuals and clunky controls, but still great. Nostalgia is worth it when you prepare yourself for the fact that it is indeed a very old game and that is may be lacking, compared to today’s standards. Just remember, passion also went into those titles. Manny Calavera, I’m on my way.
This is actually a rare case in gaming, seeing as we are living in South Africa. Other countries are being portrayed time and time again in games, so I don’t know if they go: “Hey! Look, that’s Manhattan!” I did know that I got a very unique vibe whilst playing Far Cry 2. The countryside and landscapes were done quite accurately. Yes, I know, the game was called racist or the portrayal of the fictional government was unfair, but I thought it was done in a realistic way. Also, you can’t go wrong with mercenaries screaming at you in Afrikaans. Ah, good times.
Do me a favor and remember how powerful the human mind is and how much it can be influenced by gaming, riddling you with goosebumps or causing you to jump in your seat, curse at your enemies or just causing you to have a blast. Take a seat and share your experiences.