In the early ’90s, HBO used to air a show called Dream On. I don’t remember much about it but it was essentially about a man who was brought up during the time when the television became a central fixture in the household. As with any show, he would get into hijinks, but his reaction to, or thoughts about such events were generally shown with clips of an old movie or tv show he would’ve watched as a kid. It got me to thinking about how pop culture and the entertainment industry has changed the way we all think today.
Take a show like the Simpsons. In its heyday you’d be hard pressed not to find a line from the show or a scene to reference for any given situation in real life. Indeed, the word d’oh has become an integral part of the American vernacular.
This recollection may be voluntary where one intentionally seeks out a reference from memory or, involuntary where some stimuli trigger a response. Such is the case with synesthesia. Have you ever smelled something that transports you back to some moment in your life? It is an evolutionary response, and while it is commonly associated with smell, your other senses can trigger it as well. It is why animals instinctively know take flight or become agitated when they smell smoke.
It is why I keep an ever-expanding playlist that collects songs from my favorite movies, tv shows, and games. Every time I hear the song “So Young” by Sade, for example, I am transported back to the town of Newton Haven and Peter Page, Oliver Chamberlain, Andy Knightley, and Gary King are on their way to the fist tavern. Gary breaks off from the group for a game of ding&dash while the others run from a pissed-off homeowner. Sadly Gary would never get that 12th pint at that fateful terminus, The World’s End…
This got me to thinking about how games have also impacted our lives. Although this impact is certainly attenuated given the temporal relationship of the electronic gaming industry versus other forms of entertainment, that distinction is starting to vanish. Huge games like Minecraft have proven this. A mere mention of say, obsidian or bedrock, will make even that casual gamer squeal with delight. They will also most likely share their knowledge on such resources as well.
Youtuber Boogie2988 once did a video as his character Francis where he tastes different flavors of Mountain Dew. In the course of the video, he samples original Mountain Dew and says something to the effect of…”It tastes like gaming”. That video itself may have been a parody but that particular sentiment comes from a different place. It comes from the association of our senses and some profound memory.
While gaming may be the most recent factor in the human psyche, when it comes to entertainment, I believe it has a distinct advantage over all the rest. That factor is immersion. When it comes to gaming, not only do you reap all of the benefits from a blockbuster film, complete within an in-depth story, and inspiring musical score…you get to be the center of it all. You get to be the central figure in an ‘epic moment’.
That moment where you realized you were part of some amazing story, some fantastic battle, or a dramatic scene. A moment that you would measure every other game against. It may be a moment that will stay with you forever, but shit, games keep getting bigger and better so it may change over time.
For me, that epic moment occurred in Bioware’s “Dragon Age: Origins”. Not far into the game players are treated to some amazing scenes that build upon the lore of a whole world and place you as the main character in a story on par with Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. The brutality of The Joining ritual and massive battle that takes place afterward are some of the greatest scenes in gaming and let my imagination soar. Every time I consider a game to play, or even think about gaming in general, those two scenes from “Dragon Age: Origins” are the first to pop into my head.
This is not to say that “Origins” is my absolute favorite game, just that it has had an impact upon me and has entrenched itself in my memories. Before that, it was “Knights of the Old Republic” on the original Xbox that would define my ultimate gaming experience. I guess I just have a thing for old school BioWare.Do you have any triggers that reference your everyday life back to gaming? Do you think it’s harder to make these connections when it comes to gaming? Has gaming changed the way you speak or any vocabulary you use in everyday conversation? Do you have a game that you often reflect back on? Would you consider it your favorite game?
Let us know what you think! Post your comments below, and keep the conversation going!