Are video games in the same intellectual category as literature, films and paintings? I think so, because video games are just as much about the human experience and expressions of creativity as those other mediums. I believe the future will see the gradual social acceptance of video games as more and more of us experience the genre through smartphone and tablet apps. In preparation for that glorious time when us geeks no longer have to cower in dark basements with our consoles, here are some gaming reviews.
1. Fallout 3 by Bethesda
Fallout 3 was released in 2008 and was so popular that it set expectations for open world role-playing games like Skyrim. For me, what Fallout 3 did differently is that it made side-quests fun for their own sake. Side-quests are a common element in RPGs but are often tempting to skip because they are tedious or boring. In Fallout 3, the side-quests are actually fun because they tell a self-contained story that add to the detail of the entire open world. To finish all the side-quests can easily take over fifty hours, but they are interesting enough that you want to try them all.
2. The Stanley Parable by Galactic Cafe
The Stanley Parable was a surprise hit in 2011, and has a cult following. It’s about an employee who wakes up to an empty office and tries to figure out what happened. The game is forever — after each ending, you resurrect and can try a new path that leads to a different ending. The problem is that it gets boring very quickly and isn’t really a game, so much as a critique of the idea that you can have “choice” in video games with predetermined endings. As my friend put it, it encourages you to break the rules by following other rules. As interesting as video game philosophy may be in a lecture hall, I don’t enjoy it when it takes priority over the gameplay.
3. Goat Simulator by Coffee Stain Studios
What’s it like to be a goat? You can find out in Goat Simulator, a buggy 2014 release that received mixed reviews. You play as a goat who can explore a small neighborhood and wreak havoc on its residents. You can gallop, jump and head-butt around construction sites, homes and picnics. It’s simple but buggy, because it wasn’t meant to be a blockbuster hit. And that’s fine, because Goat Simulator doesn’t aspire to be more than a quirky look at life through the eyes of the goat. A game that doesn’t have an “end”, a mission or a boss fight makes it acceptable to explore aimlessly, which makes Goat Simulator a guilt-free experience good for a few plays.