I’m sat in one of the lounges at University, talking over a seminar question with a study group, as the rigorous business of academia (reading weighty library books, hammering out essays, checking Facebook) goes on around us. We’re looking at a small section, about 150 lines, of Milton’s great epic Paradise Lost – a fraction of the entire work. We cover that in no time, but the conversation goes on, first to a quick idea about Genesis as a myth, then to the cultural origins of the Bible, then to its place within the history of the world, then higher still to questions of our own faith. All from a few lines of poetry.
I’d love to be able to have that same conversation, with the same enthusiasm and conviction, when talking about games. Instead of writing about urban themes in early modern theatre I wish I could have written about depictions of The City from Thief or Bioshock‘s Rapture. In a history meeting, instead of going through textbook descriptions of the difference between military ‘tactics’ and ‘strategy’, I wish I could have used the Total War series as the perfect example. I wish I’d had the nerve to follow through on my first dissertation idea of examining videogame tie-in novels. Cue cynicism, soul-searching, so on, so forth.
Or perhaps I’ll recognise that this incredible medium, which has already achieved so much, is still in its infancy; that it is gaining recognition daily; that cultural changes don’t happen overnight, no matter how many times we trumpet the absurd sales figures of Call of Duty or the colossal subscription numbers for World of Warcraft. Perhaps I’ll fulfil all the above wishes and start some sort of debate. Its a big goal, but a worthy one.
I understand that, on this blog, I’m a voice in the wilderness, or rather a voice in a massive crowd in the wilderness, cacophonous on the inside but only just becoming audible to the rest of the world. No matter. I’m not writing to sell the ‘games must not be fun’ argument, or to become some champion of gaming’s merits, or to call the faithful to some interactive utopia that will doubtless appear once Guild Wars 2 is releas…(careful now, don’t stoke that furnace…). I’m merely going to say my piece, quietly contribute, maybe start a discussion here and there, and then be on my way. Above all I want this blog to be a place to celebrate the creativity of this medium, to wonder at its capabilities both manifested and unfulfilled and to express, in some way, the joy of the digital. I hope you’ll enjoy the trip.