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Videogames and Personal Progression

Updated on September 15, 2016
Sara Cardone at ConnectiCon 2016 with a Fallout 4 cosplay group.
Sara Cardone at ConnectiCon 2016 with a Fallout 4 cosplay group.
Raul Montero as Owen from Jurassic World.
Raul Montero as Owen from Jurassic World.

Breaking Out of the Shell

  • What video game has taught you the most about yourself?
  • What did you start to see differently about yourself and others after starting to play video games?
  • Is there one video game character that you can relate to most?

Questions like these are presented often when individuals in the gaming community are asked to specify their drive and love for the worlds they choose to submerge themselves in; and often others wonder why gamers continue to go back to spend their energy, time, and even resources on video games.

"Sometimes people just want to escape the real world for a bit and video games offer that way out at a reasonable fee. In the real world, you're stuck as who you are, but in a game, you can choose whatever you want because you can be whatever you want." -- Raul Montero

Games have been a portal for those seeking a different direction at life's paths; to tread before they themselves fall harder than they can handle. A way of coping with stress, and even increasing the drive to complete tasks once initiated, video games have eased a large amount- though not all- of the suffering one must endure to grow. While some argue that video games have done nothing but make the younger generations violent, others claim that the access to these virtual stories have broken the barrier to many revelations; through items such as the Oculus Rift, which now gives the player a more broad and real experience.

From the moment we can comprehend reason and lessons, we are told our struggles will be infinite, and that our personal development comes from hardships and situations that are crucial to who we are as people.
In the treasure chest of video games released as early as the 1970's, video games seem to give us the opportunity to envelope ourselves in the world and battles of the characters we control, and in most cases decide their fate with the press of a button. With that kind of power, we are prompted to think about what is important to us, what we would be strong enough to do both physically and mentally, or even how much we are prepared for the worst; if it should happen.

As Sara Cardone says in the context of Fallout 4: "It really opened my eyes to how I would react if my child ever went missing. Honestly I'd fight through fire and brimstone just to see my kid. [...] Just because the going is tough and you aren't sure of the outcome, it doesn't mean you have to stop. You can over come your fears; and you will never be able to get over anything without trying and maybe falling a few times."

Fallout 4 concept art.
Fallout 4 concept art.

With the development of the characters we follow, no matter it be Booker DeWitt from Irrational's Bioshock Infinite, Commander Shepard from Bioware's Mass Effect, or even Jacob Frye from Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Syndicate; we get glimpses into what makes each character who they are; and why they progress as they have.
But even more prevalent- especially in this day and age- are the lessons we take away from these characters and their actions.

Certain characters will hold more meaning to us; especially if they have gone through some of the same hurts- even if the context is completely different. Interpretation is high up on the ladder to developers when producing their electronic masterpieces, and how others will take away their story's completely varying meanings intermingles with how the gamer thinks, or how they relate to the game personally. We are all incredibly diverse, and just like a great novel, a stellar video game has many, many, layers.

Raul Montero describes: "When the game was released [The Last of Us], I knew nothing about it, I just went in head first. So when the prologue happened, my god, tears. As I progressed I saw more and more of myself in Joel, and things started to get better. [...] My sister had her daughter, and a month later, my brother's wife had one. I then took the lessons I learned from Joel and protected those girls with my life. The Last of Us made me a better uncle, which in turn made me a better man."

Joel - The Last of Us
Joel - The Last of Us

Each gamer interviewed worded the same strive for interaction after finding themselves in the community, in the online world with access to applications such as Xbox LIVE, and even comic conventions. The same eagerness to share and be open about their passions with others; or even show off their creations based off of these games such as fan art, is universal- and it unites them into what could be described a worldwide family.

As the foundations of media and creativity become more widespread, more opportunities have risen from behind the curtain of impossibility and into the spotlight of a realistic goal; with conventions rapidly on the rise, tournaments becoming mainstream, and career fields branching to almost every aspect of gaming- this is truly an era of both personal progress and cultural development in technology. The figurative reigns on entertainment, labor, and communication have been swiped from their previous holder and guided forward on the fast and crowded race track to success.
With these paths now open to those scared to grasp at the unknown before, video games have offered a platform for socialization and unity unlike any before.

"I have made amazing friends via online, playing games, and it even helped me bond with people like you or some of my other friends. It's brought me some of my most cherished friends ever and I wouldn't change it for the world. It has also taught me that driving a car is a lot easier in real life then in a game." Sara replied after being asked about video games being more than just a hobby, and just like her, many have found their group of friends where they thought they might find none at all.

Mass Effect concept art.
Mass Effect concept art.

"It's a way to be transported out of your head for a bit. A way to immerse yourself in a fictitious world. A world where nothing but you and your character matter. It shows you that you are stronger then you think you are. It relieves your stress and your anger. It brings you together with your friends or with yourself. It's one thing that no matter what can bring a smile to my face. I would not trade my 800+ hours playing various games for anything. They've taught me it's okay to be me." --Sara Cardone

Cosplay in the Gaming Community

"Our job as the game creators or developers - the programmers, artists, and whatnot - is that we have to kind of put ourselves in the user's shoes. We try to see what they're seeing, and then make it, and support what we think they might think."

— Shigeru Miyamoto


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