Matt Machado

Toronto, Canada

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Matt Machado
Posted almost 3 years ago
Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?
Recently Infamous 2 made me think for a really long time after I finished my first play-through. One of the in-game systems is a morality meter, which, in and of itself, is pretty broken. As you do more "evil" things, you progress along a certain track unlocking "evil" abilities, and "good" abilities for appropriate deeds. The two poles operate on the same scale and so you can't level up both types of abilities, leading to a player fairly quickly picking and sticking to one path or the other. I think that's silly. On the other hand... There are supporting characters who you follow corresponding to either "good" or "evil" actions. Because the upgrades looked more appealing and the side-missions easier, I did an evil runthrough first. *spoiler* Regardless of who you follow, the last mission will require you to change allegiances, because the logically correct act is not the humane one. Being "evil" in this case meant turning against someone who had helped me all along and it was terrible. It's a simple moral, told countless times in other mediums, but in this game, after 15-20 hours adjusting to a specific set of goals based on leveling up and not on if I was "doing the right thing," I felt like a monster because I found I had become sympathetic to the "evil" supporting character. Rarely have I felt so much sympathy for a fictional character. Also, playing it through the second time seemed like a no-brainer so I could see the alternate ending where I instead betray the "good" supporting character. It turns out the play-style from the "good" abilities changes the game entirely, allowing quicker movement and less all-out attack. It was worth playing twice. If you were wondering, the "good" character garners much less sympathy.
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Matt Machado
Posted almost 3 years ago
Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?
I would respectfully ask that you consider your own comment on a grander scale than "a lesson learned in a videogame" and "a lesson learned from videogames." What I mean to say is that I wholly agree with you when you saying that accruing "power, fame, admiration, and [...] objects," is empty in and of itself and that there are indeed more interesting and fulfilling things in life, but that resolution need not only apply to actions in virtual worlds. Framing the argument differently, let's look at the way a designer would envision play in an open-ended sandbox type game. First, the mechanics of the world have to be defined (engine), then a context (story arc of some kind), and then somes personalization (leveling and avatar modifying). Without some kind of attachment to the game persona, the player would be unlikely to want to spend any time in an unguided, albeit maybe pretty, computer world. Investing your time leveling a character creates attachment. By adding personalization, developers facilitate a bond that will continue until it is worn out, usually by finishing the game in some kind of god-like state. If the road to perfection leaves you feeling empty, it could be because of a number of things. First, because perfection is not humanly attainable and so is irrelevant to you. Second, gathering trinkets and wealth does not actually lead to fulfillment. Third, the enjoyment was in the journey to the end-game, not in "ending." I can't think of any philosopher or theologian who could summarize life in such an impactful way. Videogames are a medium of entertainment, and that can involve engrossing, mind expanding stories and mechanics. Most of what you do in the real world has no meaning either. Nor does what I do. Finding things that stimulate growth is always the most important activity - following any other path will "render you less human." Maybe pick up another videogame?