So I think it’s fair to say, in this day and age, that many of us are quite eclectic in our tastes. Particularly in the case of entertainment (with its many facets and media types.) For example, I am a fan of books (to state the obvious), films, music, board games, card games and all manner of outdoor and indoor activities (I learned to snowboard this winter and am pretty proud of myself.) One in particular – that we may, or may not, have in common – is video games.
Video games are controversial, particularly when viewed through an educational lens. It doesn’t take much for them to be called out as the inspiration for bad behaviour or an instigator of social exclusion. But, the gaming scene is slowly changing and it’s becoming more acceptable to participate in the individualised learning, stress relief and complex problem solving skills that some games can offer to children and adults alike.
In an effort to combine two of my favourite things, today we will be looking at some of the best games to play if you’re a lover of stories.
Anyone with any knowledge of me would be surprised not to see this one feature on a list of my favourite video games. The Sims is one of my all-time favourite franchises and I’m always eager to get my hands on the latest updates and expansions. The game (in all editions – 1,2,3 and 4) affords a lot of creativity to the player within a relatively ‘realistic’ game universe. It’s a great medium for moulding a character, generating their environment and exploring their options in life. A definite winner for budding writers and people with interests in human behaviour (though be warned, sims aren’t like real people and often behave in strange and surprising ways…) For the best, possible experience play this on PC. Though Sims Urbz (in the city) was pretty awesome on Gameboy Advance.
I used to fight with my brother over his Xbox 360 to play this game. Your character is an orphan whose story opens with he/she living an impoverished life in the streets. The options and choices the player encounters are integral to the game’s success. Your character’s behaviour alters your journey and your appearance which allows for a different individual experience depending on how you choose to play the game. There’s something about games which aim to question our moral boundaries that just entices bookish folk. We must all be a little unbalanced.
Dragon Age: Origins
This one makes the list for character relationships alone; the humour and individuality of the NPC’s encountered by your main character is enough to keep you hooked from beginning to end. If Alistair doesn’t get you going, Morrigan (the sarcastic Witch of the Wilds) might well get you laughing. She’s a terrifying and strong female character who kindly advises that “Men are always willing to believe two things about a woman: one, that she is weak, and two, that she finds him attractive” before swiftly disproving both assumptions. Whilst the game-play is relatively straightforward in this one there are still choices to be made and character bonds that make it worth a play-through. This was available on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC upon its release in 2009.
Life is Strange
Strawburry17plays does a play through of this story-based PC game on YouTube and it got me all excited to have a play-through myself. You can watch her first episode here.
The game itself features a female lead who’s just moved to art college. It’s a prestigious place and she’s keen to make her mark but she’s a little shy and once she discovers she can reverse time she stops worrying so much about making herself likeable. This one’s mostly interactive story but also lends itself well to its key slogan that “every action has a consequence.” If you liked The butterfly Effect (2004) this might be worth trying. You can download your own first episode on Steam.
Black and White
This is a game I played a lot of when I was younger. It’s a fabulous strategy game in which you play god and have a really hands-on experience of what that actually means. You can literally pick up one of your villagers and throw them across oceans. It’s a fun one because whilst it’s still level based it afford the player a good deal of creative freedom. You’ll build your city and monopolise the map by either force or prestige – that is, convincing others to let you have control because you built 5 temples in a row and your worth is through the roof. It’s an older PC game (2001) so might be one that’s mostly available through download these days. I’m 70% sure I played it on Windows Vista.
Persona 3: FES
If you’re the kind of reader/gamer who likes to fangirl/fanboy/fan-out over characters then there’ll definitely be someone for you to dote upon in Persona 3. I still miss Junpei Iori and Aigis from time to time.
There’s a lot of grinding in this game – you have to work hard to build up your levels in a pretty repetitive environment (Tartarus) which won’t be to everyone’s tastes. If you can get past that though, there’s a pretty interesting story to be had. Your character is able to stay awake during the ‘dark hour’ – a 60 minute time period that exists between 00:00 and 00:01 whilst the rest of the world isn’t even aware of its existence. As with many JRPGs there’s good reason and a fascinating explanation behind it – one you’ll have to find out by playing this on PS2, psp or an emulator.
THIS GAME is almost overwhelmingly emotional to play despite the very simple and somewhat limited gameplay. One thing this game doesn’t lack is choice – in fact, its whole premise revolves around its extensive possibilities. There are a whopping 22 potential endings for this bizarre narrative, each one slightly more devastating than the last. If you’re now wondering what yours would be then join the club! I’m still waiting to play this on my Playstation 3 – an object I foolishly left behind when I moved from England.
So, as you can probably tell, I’ve chosen most of these because I’m a fan of them myself but if you’ve got a head that works (even a little bit) like mine does then there’s a good chance that at least one of these classics will have you hooked! Happy reading and Happy Gaming. I’m back with another post every Friday and Monday…
– Cat –