I am sure that many of us who love video games have at some point had our beloved hobby ridiculed my one or more individuals on multiple occasions. Indeed, akin to many who share my love for these digital products, I have heard them called ‘a waste of time’ or the more violent terms like ‘Destructive’ but the one I took most offense to was being told to get a hobby that is ‘More constructive’.
I recognize that there are several games out there that are just objective wastes of time, Cases in point being Candy Crush or Flappy Bird. They are not the most refined or deep experiences but an extremely invested (if not over inquisitive) individual can find meaning in them too.
The Souls series of games by Fromsoft is what really helps me clarify my claim. After spending hours on my PS4 trying to 100% Dark Souls 3, I realized that my appreciation for this series extends from what it was able to convey with the means of its design. The games push you into an unforgiving and ruthless world, where you are constantly afraid of your surroundings. They throw challenge after challenge your way and the only way you have of overcoming them is by failing over and over but persisting tirelessly, continuing to throw yourself at a wall that seems too large to scale but is extremely satisfying to climb because of the same enormity. The game is difficult but not in a “This is so damn hard, I don’t wanna play it anymore” but more in a “This is so damn hard but I wanna prove that I can do it” . The exhilaration of finishing a boss fight that had you stumped or getting past Blight town is something that other games find hard to recreate. The story alludes to this facet, the only way you or anyone in the world can truly die is by losing their purpose, aptly named ‘Going Hollow’ . With its game-play, sound design and aesthetics the series does a phenomenal job of being enjoyable gaming experiences but they also feel like very solid allegories for our own lives.
Certain independent studies show that video games do lend themselves to being ways by which an individual can boost their self confidence. Although, in my mind building all your self esteem on the back of video games in a slippery slope (Unless of course you play them professionally) but the act of deriving enjoyment from surmounting difficult challenges or uncovering new stories is not unhealthy, In fact it can be quite the opposite. The Souls series embodies that to an extent.
Art in any form is shaped not just by the creator but also by the viewer’s or in this case the player’s experience and perception. The journey through Lordran, Dragleic, Lothric and even Yarnham has taught me much but the one thing that I have learned is persistence.