Thoughts on Giving Thanks

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving.  We as gamers have a lot to be thankful for, even though we sometimes forget to be thankful.  There’s a lot in our hobby worthy of it, and what follows is my own small list.

Me, I’m thankful for the variety of genres, and the different ways developers approach those genres.  It’s not enough to have, say, a first-person shooter.  Halo approaches the genre a bit differently than, say, Perfect Dark or Doom.  They share similar elements, of course, but because the approaches are so different, gamers can enjoy their shoot-it-’til-it-dies fun however they may.  Other genres have their own diversity—for stealth games, you have the kill-from-the-shadows nature of Tenchu, and the blend-in-with-the-civilians aspect of Hitman.  Most genres have an impressive diversity to them, allowing—if not outright asking—gamers to enjoy the genre on their own terms.

I’m also thankful for local multi-player games.  Sure, there’s something to be said for the various forms of on-line multi-player, but there’s something more enjoyable about sitting right next to another player.  Congratulations, joking derisions, and whatever else are more enjoyable shared with someone physically nearby.  This is even better when they’re someone one knows, to whatever extent, in real-life.

I’m also thankful for the competition in the platform aspect of our hobby.  It’s true, yes, that more and more these days, games are multi-platform, but it wasn’t always so.  A decade ago and before, each system came with their own titles, which gamers took into account when deciding on which system to purchase.  Competition breeds, amongst other things, ingenuity and efficiency.  When publishers are trying to get gamers to spend money on their games, the game with the fewer glitches, the more interesting game mechanics, and the more compelling and coherent story usually wins.

I’m thankful for the ability of video games to tell a different sort of story; by their nature, they aren’t passive things—they must be interacted with.  The player makes decisions that, ostensibly, impact the world around their character.  While it’s true that many stores are presented passively—the player commits a string of seemingly unrelated tasks, then sits back as the actual story itself is played out via cut scenes—one can still find efforts to change that.  Further, as the medium grows, as games become more and more complex, the ability to truly weave the narrative into the game play comes closer.

One of the main things I’m thankful for is the ability the hobby presents to bring people together.  It’s a grand hobby, it really is—we have opportunities to enjoy things that weren’t even thought possible before a few decades ago, and there’s so much to the hobby that we can celebrate together.  That’s why most video game bloggers do what we do—we enjoy the heck out of this hobby.  It’s more than just a fun past time—it’s becoming something of a culture, and that means that we have something we can come together over.

Sometimes it’s difficult, especially when we come across gamers whose play styles and game preferences are so drastically different from our own.  That’s actually, I think inarguably, the main reason why some of us find it so hard to really come together and celebrate the hobby.  We sometimes get so caught up in arguments like sniping versus bull-rushing, simulation physics versus arcade, this console versus that console, so on and so on that we forget we all play the games to have fun.  We sometimes forget that, though we might approach the hobby from a different direction, we all share the same goals.

I’m thankful for every opportunity I see to remind myself of that.  I’m thankful for the times when we celebrate the differences we bring with us to the hobby, because those differences make the hobby more interesting, more unique—more fun.

There’s a lot to be thankful for in this hobby of ours.  This is just a small list, of the things I, personally, am thankful for.  I hope to see lists from others, too.  Again, it’s the differences that are worth celebrating, that make this hobby as enjoyable as it is.


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