Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Video Games And Music

    Beethoven once said,  "Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life."  To me this indicates that music is important to our very soul. When we listen to music we become connected to our spiritual selves. We are connected to a higher power. In my opinion this is because music is a part of human nature. Look at any society in the world and you will find that they play some sort of music. Music is a part of humanity. I doubt very much that you will find very many people who would tell you that they do not like any music. They may like different kinds of music than you do, but I do not think they hate it entirely. The result of this is that we like to incorporate music into the things we do. People listen to it in order to help them think, calm their mind, meditate, feel peace, pass the time, work, clean, and many other reasons. Music also ties to our emotions, and we use this in various ways. When we watch a movie, during a sad scene, sad music is often played. This helps add to the tragedy of the scene. Often we find ourselves crying. During a joyful scene, joyful music is played. During a patriotic scene, patriotic music is played. And so on. We use music to help affect our emotions, as well as to add to the enjoyment of the medium. We have done this with movies, TV shows, plays, audio books, and video games. In video games music often plays a very important role. The music of video games can be very epic, inspiring, and beautiful. It can make you feel happy, sad, patriotic, excited, as well as many other emotions. It adds to the enjoyment of the game play, the power of the story, and helps video games become classics.

    Video game music has an amazing beauty and wonder. When listening to the music in games it is hard not to feel powerful emotions and to gain a sense of inspiration. I am sure this inspiration is what the people who created Video Games Live were feeling. Video Games Live is a concert dedicated to playing the beautiful music found in video games. This concert was created to show how wonderful video game music can be. Below are some links to video game music, both from Video Games Live and from the games themselves. Please, listen to some of them, and see how great they are.

    Here, from Video Games Live, you can feel the wonder and excitement when listening to the music of Kingdom Hearts.

    Here, from The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddessess, you can listen to the beauty of Zelda Music.

    Here you can listen to the tragic music from Final Fantasy X, which helps tell the story of how a young woman was willing to give her life to save her people.

    Or you can listen to the action music from Halo, which tells of a battle to save humanity.

    You can listen to the patriotic music of Metal Gear.

    Or the wondrous music from Fire Emblem (this version is sung in Latin.)

    These are just of few examples of some of the amazing music from video games. Please, listen to some of it, and find the beauty of video game music yourself. It may have a powerful impact on your soul. It may inspire you. It may bring you enjoyment. But I think you will like it. For music is our connection to the spiritual. Music is a part of all people. Music is important to our lives. Without it, there is a major good that would not exist. The world needs music. For as Plato said,  "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order and lends to all that is good and just and beautiful."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Video Games And Art

    Cicero once said, “Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.” I have always found this to be an interesting quote because of what it implies. If art is born from observing nature, then art must be a part of nature. I would go so far as to say that art is a part of our human nature. Look at any culture in the world, no matter how old or new, and chances are that they have their own form of art. It is a part of us. Humans seem to have a call within them to produce art. Because of this we have developed many mediums to express this art within us: paintings, sculptures, gardens, music, even things like writing and film have been classified as art. There is one medium, however, that is not usually considered art. I would like for it to be looked at as a form of art, though. I think you will see why by the end of this post. This medium is video games.

    One of the things that I like about video games is that some of them have inspirations in them from other artists. An example is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In this game there is a race of sky beings called the Oocca. These beings seem to have been based on M. C. Escher’s  Another World .
The Oocca from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

M. C. Escher's  Another World 

    There is actually inspiration from art in video games. But video games are not only inspired by art, they are art themselves. They have a beauty to them that a lot of people seem to miss. Here I will show some examples of the art within video games. I hope it shows you how art can take various forms, including forms not expected.

 Here is the colorful world that is seen as you talk to the Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2.

Here is a scene from The World That Never Was in the game Kingdom Hearts 2.

 Here is a shot of Hyrule from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

 Here is a scene from the forest in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

    These are just a few examples of how video games can be art. There are many more games that I would consider to be artistic. But the art of video games is more than just screenshots of beautiful areas. The art also comes with the creativeness of the games, the beauty of the world, the wonder of exploration, the magic of the story, and the power of having your own adventure. All of these things add to the artistic nature of video games. Video games allow you to travel majestic fields, climb mighty mountains, soar through wondrous skies, swim through vast oceans, and explore mysterious forests. Who could say that this is not art? It is because of the increasingly artistic nature of video games that games are slowly being looked at as a form of art. An example of this is an exhibit that was at the Smithsonian American Art Museum called The Art of Video Games. This exhibit ran from March 16, 2012 until September 30, 2012 and showed the art of video games from the days of old arcade games up until the modern day. It is currently traveling across the country, hopefully showing the people who see it how artistic video games can be. My point is that video games can be art, and this is being shown more and more as video games have become more popular. We have recognized many mediums as art, including books and movies. So why not video games? The artistic nature of video games is powerful. It is amazing and inspiring. It is magical and beautiful. Video games can be art, and I think it is important to recognize this, as well as recognize how important video games are to our culture.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Video Games Have Improved My Life

    I have gone over several reasons why I feel that video games can be good, positive and inspirational things in our lives. Now I feel that it might be beneficial to talk a little bit about how I formed some of these views. I think it would be good to show how video games have improved my life, and how they have been a truly great inspiration.

    Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I think the first video game I ever played was Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Back then I could not really understand the point of the game, and instead spent my time running, jumping around and just having fun. There were other games as well, and I enjoyed playing them with my father, or so I am told. So even from an extremely early age video games were a great part of my life. They were a fun part. Then, when I was four or five years old I received a game which changed my life. For Christmas I received a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and with it, three games. Two of them, The Lion King and The Pagemaster, I had great fun with. But it was the third game that I fell in love with. That game was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It was this game that really opened my eyes to the wonders of video games. It did this in three ways. First, there was an amazing story. I have always loved stories, and I would read with my parents a lot. This game offered to me an amazing story. This was a game was about heroes. A game about magic. A game about the struggle between good an evil. Everything that I loved. The story is about a boy named Link, who sets off on a quest to save the Princess Zelda from an evil wizard. This wizard, as you find out, is working for the villain Ganon. This was the first time I had seen a game with such an in depth story. Even though I was so young this had a deep impact on me. This game instilled within me a love of fantasy, adventure, and stories about good vs. evil. This game was amazing to me. I was playing as a hero fighting to stop a great evil. I was trying to save the world. This brings me to the second thing that amazed me about this game. It was the world itself. In this game I wasn’t just trying to get from point A to B. I wasn’t just trying to stay alive and fight off the bad guys. This world was expansive. Not only were there mountains to explore, rivers to follow, and a desert to wonder through, but there were also hidden things to find. You could play this game several times and find something new in it each time you played. You also needed to journey through various dungeons, exploring and solving puzzles, in order to beat the game. This brings me to the third reason why this game has such an impact on me. It made me think. In order to beat the game you need to solve puzzles, figure out the right paths, and use strategy to beat very powerful enemies. This game required me to use my mind. This game inspired me to want to use my mind even more. It gave me a deep love for puzzles, logic, and strategy. For using my mind to figure things out. Because I was so young it took me a while to beat this game, but ever since I first played it this game has held a special place in my heart. Because of this game I became even more involved with looking for things which inspire me and make me think. I loved how this game helped me in these areas, and because I played it I started looking for other things like it.

    It was not hard to find them. I found several books I loved. Mythology and fantasy became two of my favorite subjects. I had a great love for epic stories, and found many books that had them. I had become, to be more blunt, an avid reader and thinker. It did not take long before my studies in mythology spun off into reading great works of literature like The Iliad and The Odyssey. Then those spun off into studying history (a subject which quickly grew to become a favorite of mine). This spun off into other subjects like politics. In short, I had become a very serious student. I will not say that video games are the only things responsible for this inspiration (my parents, friends, and a deep love of study are other things which have inspired this), but video games were a huge part. Because I played that one game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, I was filled with such an inspiration that it helped set me on the path to becoming the student and scholar that I am today.

    There are other ways video games have done this. When I was younger I became very inspired to start teaching myself how to play the piano. I did this not because I was required to take lessons, or even because anyone else in my family played (they did not). I started teaching myself so that I could learn how to play video game music. The music in these games was so beautiful to me that I wanted to learn to play it myself. So I taught myself the keys on our piano, figured out what sounds they made, and began learning how to play Legend of Zelda songs on piano. This spun of to music from other games, and then spun off to learning how to play songs by Mozart, Bach, and other great composers. I began playing an instrument a little every day because of my deep love for video game music. This is another blessing that video games have been in my life.

    There are, of course, other ways they have improved my life. In our house video game time was always pretty restricted. There was not a lot of time I was allowed to sit down and enjoy my game. This became frustrating to me especially when I started playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I loved that game. The story was fascinating. But it was taking me an incredibly long time to get to the end because of our restrictions. I felt that the reason playing these games was restricted was because my parents considered video games bad for you. I later found out that this was not true, that there were other reasons, but at the time that was what I believed. So I started thinking about this subject deeply. I came up with reasons why I felt video games were good, and I talked to my parents about them. Even if one of my points was countered, I did my best to make my case. I stood up for what I believed in. In the end we were allowed more video game time, and I still feel that I made very good arguments. It was because of this that I am able to write this blog today. I formed thoughts, used logic, and made my case. Later on I would have debates with some friends who considered video games to be bad. And I would also have discussions with friends who thought video games were good. Because of video games I became a much better thinker. I started learning how to debate. I started making my points and standing for what I believed in. I started gaining some very important life skills.

    In addition to these there are more important inspirations I have gained from video games. Final Fantasy teaches strategy and thinking. Fire Emblem also teaches strategy, but in a different way. The Metal Gear series is about a man who sacrifices everything to fight for freedom. The Kingdom Hearts series is about standing for good and fighting against evil, especially the darkness within yourself. It is also about friendship, courage, and sacrifice. The Halo series is about a soldier who is willing to give his own life to save humanity. The World Ends With You inspired me to stay strong, even in the face of adversity. These games and many other teach many subjects and truths, whether they are about politics, history, human nature, religion, philosophy, leadership and many others. These games have many of the same principles as many of the great classics of literature. I know this because I have seen them. They have been an inspiration.

    As I have become a more serious student and scholar I have spent a great deal of time reading and studying. But I also spend some time playing video games. They have been a huge, powerful, inspirational part of my life. And I have found that they contribute to my studies, they do not detract from them. They improve my life, they to not take away from it. They have made me a better person, not a lazy bum who does nothing with his life. Video games have contributed greatly to me becoming the scholar and person that I am today. I am thankful for them, as they have given me much to be thankful for.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A List of 100 Video Game Classics

    The Following is a list of 100 video games that I would consider to be classics, as well as the developer(s) for each individual game. The list is alphabetical by game title.  Before we get to it I would first like to make a couple of points. First, this is not intended to be a complete list. There are many video games not on this list which I would consider to be classics (for example, I would consider every game in The Legend of Zelda series to be classics). Rather, this list is intended to be a starting point for those who want to start researching video game classics. For those of you who play video games, or who intend to start, this is a list of games I highly recommend playing. For those of you who do not want to play video games, but who want to do some research on video game classics, I would say that this is a good list for you to start with. Ultimately, I hope that you will not take my word that video games can be classics, and will instead take a look at some of them yourself. I think you will find many positive things within them. Second, this is not intended to be an absolute list of classics. There may be many games on this list that you agree are classics, and that is great! But there may also be many games on this list that you do not think are classics, and that is great too! As I said before, classics are decided by the individual. This is a list of video games which I personally think are classics, but my list does not have to be yours. There may be games that you would remove, and others that you would add. This list is based on my opinion, not an absolute.
    I hope to go more in depth on some of these games in the future and explain exactly why I added them to this list. But for now, if you have any questions about why a certain game is on this list, or any question about anything posted on this blog, feel free to ask it in the comment section and I shall be happy to answer it.


A List of 100 Video Game Classics

Alan Wake, Remedy Entertainment
Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Nintendo
Assassins Creed, Ubisoft Montreal
Assassins Creed II, Ubisoft Montreal
Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Ubisoft Montreal
Assassins Creed: Revelations, Ubisoft Montreal
Assassins Creed III, Ubisoft Montreal
Avalon Code, Matrix Software
BioShock Infinite, Irrational Games
Blades of Steel, Konami
Brain Age, Nintendo
Brain Age 2, Nintendo
Call of Duty: Black Ops, Treyarch
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Treyarch
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Konami
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Konami
Castlevania; Order of Ecclesia, Konami
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Konami
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Square Enix
Donkey Kong, Nintendo
Dragon Quest (Warrior), Chunsoft
EarthBound, Ape, HAL Laboratory
Fallout 3, Bethesda Game Studios
Final Fantasy IV, Square
Final Fantasy VII, Square
Final Fantasy X, Square
Final Fantasy XII, Square Enix
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, The Game Designers Studio
Fire Emblem: Awakening, Intelligent Systems
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Intelligent Systems
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Intelligent Systems
Galaga, Namco
Halo, Bungie
Halo 2 , Bungie
Halo 3, Bungie
Halo 4, 343 Industries
Joust, Williams Electronics
Kingdom Hearts, Square
Kingdom Hearts 2, Square Enix
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, h.a.n.d.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Square Enix
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Square Enix
Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, Square Enix
Kingdom Hearts Re: coded, h.a.n.d.
LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule
Luigi’s Mansion, Nintendo
Mario Kart 7, Nintendo, Retro Studios
Mass Effect, BioWare
Mass Effect 2, BioWare
Mass Effect 3, BioWare
Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions
Metroid: Other M, Project M
Metroid Prime, Retro Studios, Nintendo
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Retro Studios, Nintendo
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Retro Studios, Nintendo
Metroid: Zero Mission, Nintendo
Minecraft, Mojang
Ms. Pac-Man, Midway Games
Myst, Cyan
New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo
Pac-Man, Namco
Pikmin, Nintendo
Pikmin 2, Nintendo
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, Chunsoft
Pokemon Platinum Version, Game Freak
Portal, Valve Corporation
Portal 2, Valve Corporation
Secret of Mana, Square
Shadow of the Colossus, Team Ico
Sid Meier’s Civilization V, Firaxis Games
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Sonic Team USA
Space Invaders, Taito Corporation
Star Fox 64, Nintendo
Star Wars Battlefront II, Pandemic Studios
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, Obsidian Entertainment
Super Mario 64, Nintendo
Super Mario Bros., Nintendo
Super Mario World, Nintendo
Super Mario 64, Nintendo
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, ad hoc
Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Bethesda Game Studios
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda Game Studios
The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Nintendo
The Sims 2, Maxis
The World Ends With You, Square Enix, Jupiter
Valkyrie Profile, tri-Ace
Wii Music, Nintendo
Wii Fit Plus, Nintendo
Wii Sports, Nintendo

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Video Game Classics Part 2

    I would say that there can be classics that are classics just because they provide some sort of entertainment or joy. For instance, I have seen several paintings which I would consider classics just because I think they are beautiful to look at. There are several novels that I have read which I would consider classics just because I enjoyed reading them. And there are several games which I would consider to be classics just because I enjoyed playing them. For instance, I personally would consider the game Ms. Pac-Man to be a classic. It is a fairly simple game (you just move Ms. Pac-Man around a maze eating pellets and avoiding ghosts). There really isn’t any story (except for the occasional very basic cut scene), there is no dialogue, and no amazing thought provoking inspirations (that I have seen). And yet I have found great joy in playing the game. It has relieved stress, provided a challenge, and has given me many hours of fun throughout my life. To me it is a classic.

    There are also classics which are on a different level then just providing entertainment. These classics stimulate thought, inspire action, and teach truth. These classics can be examined in more ways than just  forms of entertainment. They have more to offer us. This does not make the games that provide us pure entertainment bad, it just means that these games provide different things for us. A great example to use here is the game series Kingdom Hearts. This series is about a boy named Sora who is taken away from his home when a great evil destroys it. His friends were also taken. He arrives on a new world, and he begins to fight this evil with a magical weapon called a Keyblade. With his teammates Donald and Goofy (yes, the Disney characters) he begins a quest to find his friends and stop the darkness. This series provides many interesting things to think about. First is the kind of Taoistic idea that light and darkness have to coexist. That they constantly struggle against each other. That this battle is never going to end. And yet that does not mean that you should stop fighting. You should always strive to fight for the light, and to stand against the darkness. To get a good idea of what the struggle between light and darkness looks like in the game, it is similar to the idea of the light side and the dark side of the Force in Star Wars. There is light, and there is darkness. There are people who use and follow the light, and people who use and follow the darkness. Both sides are constantly struggling against each other, but neither side can ever truly be destroyed. So those who follow the light stand against the darkness. But there is one interesting aspect of darkness that is not usually seen. The series makes it clear that darkness is not in and of itself evil. It offers power, it tends to corrupt, and those who use the darkness are usually evil. But darkness itself is not the evil. It is the individuals, not the power, that need to be fought against. These concepts I think are best shown with a conversation that takes place in Kingdom Hearts 2 between Xemnas (the villain), Mickey and Sora’s best friend, Riku:

    Xemnas: “Denizens of light, answer this: why do you hate the darkness?”

    Mickey Mouse: “Aw, we don't hate it. It's just kinda... scary. But the world's made of light AND darkness. You can't have one without the other, 'cause darkness is half of everything. Sorta makes ya wonder why we are scared of the dark...”

    Riku: “It's because of who's lurking inside it.”

    The game makes the point that darkness in and of itself is not evil, as it is usually portrayed. Rather, those who use the darkness tend to let the power they are granted corrupt them. But it is not the darkness that hurts us, it is the people within the darkness that do. The series has many other things it talks about: sacrifice, life, friendship, fighting for what is right, truth, promises and many others. This video game series has been one of the most thought provoking I have ever played. You walk away from it questioning things. It inspires stimulating discussions. It makes you think. It has added a lot of good to my life. It is a classic.

    Another good example of a video game classic would be Wii Fit Plus. Wii Fit Plus is an exercise game, designed to try and inspire people to take care of themselves. In the game you can both play various games which are designed to keep you up and active (this happens through both the Wii’s motion sensitive controllers, as well as a balance board which the game comes with), as well as allowing you to do many actual exercises, such as push-ups, sit-ups, yoga and many others. The game even provides a virtual trainer to help teach you how to do these exercises properly. I have found this to be a very good tool to inspire you to make sure you exercise every day, and in fact I have talked to several people who only exercise every day because of this game. It is the tool that they have found best helps keep them going. With it you can set goals, keep active, and have fun. My whole family uses it, and we all greatly enjoy it. We compete against each other, have fun playing the games, and even watch each other as they try to get the top score. It has helped to create a balanced life style by making sure we stay fit. It has been a great benefit to all of our lives. It is a classic.

    One last example I would like to provide is the game Wii Sports. This game has various sports, such as bowing, tennis, and golf that you can play alone or with others. Because of the Wii motion controls for the most part you stay up and moving. This has been great because it has provided a lot of family quality time. There have been many evenings where my family and I would turn the game on and play bowling against each other. This even includes my grandparents, all of whom got Wiis of their own after playing this game. We have spent many good times playing with each other, being competitive and just having fun. It has provided our family with many hours of joy. It has been something which has helped all of us set aside whatever it is we are doing to just spend time with each other as a family. This I think is incredibly valuable. This has brought a lot of good into our lives. This game has been very valuable to us. It is a classic.

    I hope I have provided you with enough good examples to show that video games can be classics. They have brought a lot of good into my life, good which I would not trade for the world. And it is not just me. Video games have been bringing good to many people throughout the world. Whether those people just enjoy playing them, experiencing the story, or studying and discussing them, video games have been a benefit to the lives of many. Many of them are great classics, works which I think will be remembered for many years to come. These games have provided joy, thoughts, truths, and inspiration to many people around the world. People think about, learn from, discuss and enjoy them. Many people have had their lives improved in some way because of a game they played. Many people have experienced the good which video games have to offer. I hope I have shown why so many people love video games, and why that is not a bad thing. There are video game classics. They have been around for many years, and will be around for many more.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Video Game Classics Part 1

    I believe that video games can be classics. But in order to show what exactly I mean by that, I think that it is important for us to define what exactly a “classic” is. The word classic seems to have two main definitions when relating it to various mediums. The first one is something that is old. Something that has withstood the test of time. When looking up the word in Webster’s Online Dictionary the second and third definitions provided seem to fit within this meaning of the word. Here are the listings of those two definitions:

a : of or relating to the ancient Greeks and Romans or their culture: classical

a : historically memorable
<a classic battle>
b : noted because of special literary or historical associations
<Paris is the classic refuge of expatriates>

    These definitions seem to be commonly used when talking about great works. Whether it is referring to the Politics of Aristotle as a classic because it comes from ancient Greece, or calling the works of Shakespeare classics because they are historically memorable works. There has always been a connection of the word “classic” with age and endurance, and great works are no exception. But these are not the main definitions we used when talking about great classics of literature, art, music and other works. Rather, the definition most often used is the first one that Webster’s Online Dictionary provides.

a : serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value
 <classic literary works>

    This is the definition most often used when talking about the great classics of the world, and it is this definition that I use when referring to video games as classics. For video games, just like books, art, music, movies, and even TV shows, can also be classics. To see this we must examine video games as a medium, and see what value they offer those who play them.

    Video games seem to offer various kinds of value. Two main areas are entertainment value and mental value, though physical value is being added to many games today. Entertainment value is a key component of video games, as they were designed first and foremost for entertainment. Video games are meant to be enjoyed, and enjoyment and relaxation are important aspects of a healthy life. When I say mental value, I mean both brain stimulation (as in the game Brain Age, where you do things like solve math problems, read aloud, and various other games to help exercise the brain), and the scholarly or academic value, (by which I mean games which force you to think, promote truths, inspire you, or in some other way promote scholarly thought). Physical value can be seen in games such as Wii Fit, which requires you to stand up, move around, be constantly active, and even do exercises such as push-ups or sit-ups. It seems clear to me that video games have all sorts of value, and that they have a lot of good to offer our lives. They have a lot of good to offer and a lot of wonders to experience.

    Now that we have established some of the value video games have to offer, I think it is time to fit them more clearly into the definition of “classic.” Webster’s Online Dictionary says that classics are something that serves as a standard of excellence, or are of recognized value. What exactly is the take away from that definition. It seems to me to be several things. Classics have to be held to a high standard. They have to be excellent in some way. They also have to be a sort of recognized value. There has to be something valuable within the classic, something that you see within the classic, and that you are gaining from it. So I would say that a classic is something that you consider to be excellent. Something that has value to you. Something which brings positive things to your life. Classics are things which improve your life in some way, whether by stimulating your thought, inspiring you with truth, or in some other way improving your life. Perhaps the play Hamlet greatly improved your life, or a symphony by Beethoven greatly moved you. Perhaps a work of art by Van Gogh greatly inspired you. Note that I said “your” life, not “our lives.” This is because I think there is a second element to classics. Classics, in my opinion, differ based on the individual. Every person has their own value. Every person has their own standard of excellence. Every person has different things which inspire them or move them. Every person has their own beliefs, their own passions, their own individual minds. If every person is different then how could there be one list of classics? There cannot be. The list of classics is different for every person. I know several people who consider The Chronicles of Narnia to be classics, but not the Harry Potter series. Yet I also know people who believe the Harry Potter series are classics, but not The Chronicles of Narnia. Are either of these two groups of people wrong? I would say not, because classics differ based on the individual. I personally believe that both of these series of books are classics, but that is my opinion. I am not right or wrong because there cannot really be a right or wrong. In my opinion both of these series promote truth, they are both inspiring, they both made me think. They are both classics. I would say that the good or value that it brings into your life could range anywhere from truth to inspiration, entertainment, thought, material to discuss, and anything else that improves your life in some way. I have often found that many classics provide something new for you to gain every time you experience it. Once again the definition of “good,” “value” and “improve” is going to be at least a little different between individuals. Even various sects of Christianity have at least slight differences in their idea of what is true and what is good, and what is valuable to your life. With so many different views of the world you are going to get many different ideas of what is and is not a classic. This, I feel, is a positive, and not a negative, thing. Next we will discuss some examples of video games and how they are classics.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Entertainment Aspect of Video Games

    I have talked quite a bit about the scholarly value of video games. But now I would like to take some time to talk about another aspect of them. The aspect which is most thought of when people talk about video games. The entertainment aspect. Video games are first and foremost a medium for entertainment, just like novels, movies and TV shows. So I think that it is important to examine this aspect of video games as it is important to any true understanding of the medium.

    Benjamin Franklin once said that, “Games lubricate the body and the mind.” This, I think, is an incredibly great insight. Obviously he was not talking about video games, but I think the same thing applies to them. Games, and enjoyment in general, are needed for healthy living. Just as the mind and body need exercise, so too do they need rest, relaxation, and enjoyment. The mind and body cannot constantly be working, for they will exhaust themselves. Yet the idea that entertainment is important is not one that is universally accepted. I have met several people who have expressed the idea that a person should be spending all of his/her free time studying. That unless you are working, taking care of your home, and taking care of and spending time with your family, then you need to be reading the works of Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, or other great classics. That all spare time you can muster up should be spent studying great works of old. I cannot express enough how unhealthy this is. It is not good to have your entire life be work and studying. You need rest. You need enjoyment. I have found a similar mentality with some people who believe that they should be spending all of their time working, whether it is house work or a job where they are making an income. Once again, this is unhealthy. It is not good to spend all of your time working. You will become exhausted. People need time to take a break and do something that they really enjoy doing. Something to ease their mind. People need fun.

    Fun is a concept that seems to be losing its value. There seems to be a mentality forming that having fun and playing are things that children do, that the older you become the less “fun” you should be having and the more “work” you should be doing. This mentality seems to indicate that once you reach a certain age it is unacceptable to collect Pokemon Cards or go to sci-fi conventions. That once you are an adult sometimes messing around and goofing off is immature. And that in order to grow up you need to stop playing video games. In short, we have created a mentality that doing many of the things that we love to do as kids, things which we considered then to be “fun,” are not things that are acceptable for us to do as adults. This can be seen in many aspects of our culture. When you are watching a movie or TV show about youth, often you will see the kids at school divided into several different social classes. You have the jocks, cheerleaders, skater dudes, and various others. What group is made up of the people who spend time playing video games or loving sci-fi?  A lot of the time it is going to be the socially inept nerds. The people who, though smart, are often immature. The people who close themselves off from human contact as much as possible, unless it is with each other. The people who are clumsy and childish. Those are the people we portray as liking video games. Other examples are in shows about families. Often, when the husband is being depicted as lazy, he is seen playing video games rather than fulfilling his duties to his family or job. The mentality is that video games are for the slacker. That sitting back and enjoying yourself is what lazy people do. Hard-working people don’t waste their time playing video games. There are better things to do with your life. More important things. This, I feel, is not a good attitude to have. What is so wrong about taking some time to do some things that you truly love to do? Collecting the things you want to collect. Going to the events you want to go to. And playing video games if that is a passion of yours.

    None of what I am saying should be construed as meaning that studying or working is bad, and we should spend most of our time playing video games. Work and study are both very important. I have always considered myself to be a very hard worker. And I spend most of my time reading and studying. But studying certain subjects is a passion of mine, so I am getting my entertainment from some of things that I read. For others video games are a great passion, as they are with me, and so why should we discourage playing them. Some people read or watch Shakespeare for entertainment, some read Jane Austin novels, and some play video games. Everyone has their own form of entertainment, and if sometimes a person chooses to play through the game Kingdom Hearts rather than reading Romeo and Juliet, is that a bad thing? I do not think so. As I said before people need entertainment, they need fun, they need relaxation. Study history and you will see that this has always been commonly accepted. Go back centuries and I think you will find that people have always played games or read novels, children have always played with toys and with each other, people have always tried to have fun. Enjoyment is good, and video games are extremely valuable when it comes to entertainment.