Monday, August 3, 2020

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #3: Let's Have an Existential Crisis About Video Games!

What are some key sources of media (games/movies/etc) that have shaped your worldview?

I almost passed on this one but my cursed need for all-or-nothing-ism compels me otherwise.

I've never though of personality traits as particularly granular.

Joe is grumpy. Sheila is shy. Roger is an angry, aggressive meathead. I don't think these are useful characteristics. I'll experience all three of these emotions during an average grocery store trip. Trying to characterize people with some sort of meta-trait is a fool's errand.

I think people fluctuate organically. Not just over long periods of time where we become more tempered than in our youth or wizened with age. I think people change quickly. Every situation, no matter how routine, is shaping our world view just a little bit at a time. Sometimes a traumatic event will change us a lot in a short amount of time. But I think the only constant really is change.

For some there is a clear and linear evolution of who we are as people from childhood to death. But I don't think that's very common. I think for most life is a journey with a lot of backtracking, a lot of oscillating between ideas, and a lot of the same mistakes made in different ways.

So I think narrowing down key sources of media that have shaped my worldview is practically impossible. Everything has influence. Probably a lot of it whether we notice or not. But what has influenced me most? I suspect even I don't really know that.

Perhaps it was all the episodes of The West Wing I watched growing up that urged me to a major in political science. Dealing with actual constituents chased me out of that career, but it did introduce me to my now primary friend group in college, and ultimately my wife. So I have to consider that a net-positive.

World of Warcraft, a game I have played at various levels of seriousness for it's entire life span, must have had some impact on me. If nothing else, it was a transition from an old friend group that never really suited me to aforementioned current friend group.

Also, watching WOW's development team fall over themselves making the same mistakes time and time again taught me an important lesson. No matter how competent, well paid, or well regarded someone is, they will inevitably follow the same path to creating anything: running full speed into a brick wall. It's how well you can continue after your collision, and how well you can pretend said collision never took place, that has a lot more to do with success than almost anything else. Also starting with a boatload of money helps too.

There's lots of other, smaller, influences. The Turks from Final Fantasy 7 imparted on me the importance of being well-dressed no matter the occasion.

Everquest 2 taught me how much I value atmosphere: both in fictional worlds and real ones.

Gran Turismo taught me that slowly and incrementally improving on a skill, such as whipping a Ferrari around a track ever a tenth of a second quicker, is when I'm happiest.

Metal Gear Solid taught me an appreciation for over-indulgent displays of self-masturbation. To this day, I'm the only person I know who enjoyed the last two Matrix films.

And so on and so forth. I'd like to think that everything I consume is having some affect on me. The problem being, as I get older, it gets harder and harder for any individual piece of art to make the impact on me it could have as a kid. Is that where these 'traits' become relevant and accurate descriptors? Is my worldview finally going to slowly and inevitably petrify until I'm a hardened husk of a mind?

If video games, or movies, or television ever lose their ability to influence how I look at the world after I'm done with them, then I'm likely to jump in front of the nearest bus. That'd be all the magic out of the world for me.

But thankfully, I'm highly dubious of that thought. Being easy to influence and being able to be influenced are perhaps a matter of circumstance and not a linear progression that sits parallel with aging.

But then again, I wonder what I read or played that made me think that.

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