Oh, hello! Here’s another podcast. This time it’s about video games! “Urgh, not that childish namby pamby nonsense! Urgh!”
Now now, cretin, control your emotions! We’re here this week to explain what makes gaming so magical, so as you can get a better understand of it all. Huzzah!
MoroniCast #5: Reasons For Gaming (When You’re Not a Gamer)
Righto, given we have a 20 minute time limit on the platform we use one really had to focus quickly in on the main reasons.
Fun is one of the main reasons, of course, as games are exceptional entertainment. Why play video games? Escapism is high up there as a result.
But we did leave out the many mental health benefits of playing video games. And, indeed, many indie games are now challenging mental health topics. Think of Celeste, for example.
It’s a tremendous boost for anyone’s mental health. We can point to relaxing majiggers such as A Short Hike as one example.
Super charming, concise, and engaging—you throw yourself in for the small asking price and bask in the joys of the experience.
But then there’s something like the total majesty of Breath of the Wild and Skyrim, vast worlds that draw you in and leave you rather spellbound.
Breath of the Wild is a particular example of the relaxing nature of video games.
In this 2017 title, there’s so much freedom you can just ignore the main quest to lark about and do very little. Behold!
But we can also point to the sheer, unadulterated, life-affirming joy of Nintendo’s titles in general. Super Mario Odyssey or Mario Kart 8. The latter is just a riot to play, whether alone or against friends.
You may scoff at Mario Kart 8, for example, but if you play the thing… that’s what it’s about. Experience it. The title is just so much fun it’s unreal. And the joy you get from it—that’s what makes Nintendo’s games so magical.
But away from the Japanese gaming giant (as we’re not here to fanboy, instead highlight the general joys of gaming for non-gamers), let us highlight many more visceral experiences.
Gaming Creativity, Intellectualness (it’s a word), and Intensity
As a challenging pursuit, gaming also offers intellectual development and mental stimulation. We suggest the brilliant lunacy of Factorio, for example.
And whilst we give first-person shooters a lot of negativity on this blog, there are some outstanding examples of managing the genre to perfection.
Half-Life 2, for example, is an astonishing onslaught of a game where the intensity becomes so overwhelming you can’t help but hold your breath.
Valve’s masterpiece is considered one of the greatest video games of all time. And rightly so.
The visceral nature of some gaming experiences isn’t to be ignored.
As with above, indie games such as INSIDE and Thumper offer psychological trauma as a meditative entertainment experience. The latter is a title you really need to play with earphones on.
And, my word, just it overwhelm you. It borders on being tortuous, yet dangles enjoy delightful mania at you to keep you returning for more punishment.
There are also innovative and exploratory genres, such as RPGs which go to great lengths to create real worlds with consequences for your decisions.
Disco Elysium springs to mind, which plays out like a macabre existential crisis.
We compared it to the works of Bukowski (think Factotum) meets Venedikt Yerofeev’s drunken philosophising in Moscow Stations.
In fact, the RPG is like an interactive novel, with reams of outstanding dialogue from the very talented writer Helen Hindpere.
Some games developers also explore the nature of existence. And we can point to the truly superb FAR: Lone Sails there.
It’s a mourning experience, steeped in a sense of solitude. Loss and vast, impossible spaces make up your time in the world.
It makes use of empty space and time to think, leaving the player travelling across beautifully maudlin landscapes as you reflect on your place in the world.
So, yes, we hope we’re depicting what makes gaming so special here. The sense of variety and emotional reactions it can cause.
Yes, there’s a stupid shooty, boom boom games packed with juvenile violence. Yes, a lot of gamers are entitled bellends who send death threats to developers who dare delay a title by a month.
But it’s also a wonderfully rich and evocative industry with tens of thousands of super talented people working hard to deliver amazing projects.
And many of them can be genuinely moving the life changing. As well as fun. Don’t forget the fun.
On the Excellence of Retro Gaming
Missed off the podcast is also the joys of retro gaming. Graphics were more primitive in the past, but the Super Nintendo and its peers shouldn’t be scoffed at.
Pick yourself up a SNES Classic Mini, for example, or just get a Nintendo Switch and you’ll get access to the SNES’ amazing library.
Retro gaming adds an extra element to the whole experience as you can see the historical development of genres and in the industry.
But the titles are just still rather amazing, too.
Think of Super Metroid or any other masterpieces from around the era and you can see gameplay at its finest. And that’s only a good thing.
The Joys of Video Game Music
Now, we mentioned Gareth Coker in the podcast and his work for the Ori and the Will of the Wisps soundtrack.
An example is above. Although the full extent of the soundtrack’s imagination needs to really be listened to in total.
But, anyway! We imagine many people associate video game music with Super Mario type bleeps and bloops. Well, yes and no, as things have advanced on enormously since the 1980s.
Take the 2021 title Hoa, for example, with its full sweeping scope.
Other soundtracks are playful and incredibly ambitous, such as Rayman Origin’s remarkable music from the mind of Christophe Héral.
The highlights of which you can see in French symphonic orchestra Pixelophonia and its joyous take on the music from a few years ago.
Glorious, huh? Which leads us to the master of them all! Legendary British composer David Wise, whose landmark work on the Donkey Kong Country trilogy is legendary.
We could rant all day about video game soundtracks, but Wise’s pioneering work was essential for the development in the industry.
He’s still working, of course, and recently we point to Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. A fantastic video game, made all the better thanks to a truly outstanding soundtrack.
For this, we point to the Grassland Groove stage and its inspired use of South African music.
We include the clip of the level, so you can see how the music evolves with the flow of the level to create a bloody moving experience!
Aye, so epic stuffs. And we think that’s a fine way to end this whole podcast post. End on a high and all that.
Thank you kindly for paying attention. And now… go off and STEAL a games console! AHAHAHAHAA!