A return to gaming

For as long as I can remember, the best days of my childhood were my summers. 

Filled with days off school, the lush green grass and walks by the beach, there was always something beautiful about the season. However, more than the beauty in full growth around me, summer held great memories because I knew I could uproot myself from the real world of homework and after-school sports, to video games.

My 14-year-old self was solely interested in fantasy games – games that would detach me from the harsh truths of life, such as Pokémon and Journey were a few of my favorites. I also recall adopting niche interests in fashion design and ballet from Ubisoft’s Imagine console games.

However, time ran its course and eventually these interests that I had initially only lived through the screen of my Nintendo DS came alive. I was no longer designing clothes for some high-end fashion boss virtually, I had to make sure my outfit looked presentable for college, while still making it to my evening ballet lessons. As my parents like to see it, I grew older.

It was only until two weeks ago, when Concrete’s Gaming Editor Martha posted a content call on the “Politics of Gaming,” did I start to read up on how video games have evolved over the past 6 years of my absence. Without much thought, I began venturing into the world of Life is Strange 2’, and the stark amount of references to the current socio-political climate took me aback.

Scrolling through a list of more video games, I tiptoed through Moons of Madness, knowing that it was Halloween night. Despite the story-driven horror setting of the game, I was again amazed at how close it was to the world we live in today. From its space exploration adventures to its visual graphics, I could very well say that my ship of 2D graphics has sailed.

As I reflect on the experience of returning to gaming, I realize that perhaps my childhood self was not right in thinking that games were a form of escapism. Just as any form of media today, gaming has become a medium of information – whether it be cultural or political, every game is rooted in the situations of its time.

Irrespective of how fantastical a game looks, I began to unravel how every fantasy was held up by some reality. But it does not mean that one should stop playing. It simply means that we are getting more out of our games than we previously did. Just as Monopoly tells us about the economic situation in 1904, our future generation might play Life is Strange and understand what it was like to live in 2019.

The more I think about it, the more I understand that as I grew older, my video games grew up too.

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Monique Santoso

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January 2022
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