This is a column about video games. They’re what I write about almost exclusively because I love them. As a medium, they play host to a fascinating tension between the player and modes of interaction, an idea not found anywhere else that’s rife with exciting artistic possibilities.
But every time I talk about video games with people who don’t play them, I hear something to the effect of “I could just never get into games.” It’s a bizarre statement and it contributes to an even more bizarre sentiment that I’ve seen time and again: that there is some sort of dividing line between people who can play and enjoy video games and people who can’t.
It’s a silly notion on its face. Very few people will tell you that they simply don’t like movies or books or music. And like movies, books and music, games are an incalculably vast medium - last year, just on the Steam marketplace, there were over two dozen games released every single day. But I empathize with people who think they don’t like games. I suspect that what they mean is that they don’t like the games we talk about.
That’s because the games we talk about are daunting. The modern games that receive extensive press coverage and social media buzz are generally things like the forthcoming “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” (huge and mechanically convoluted adventures that demand dozens of hours of investment) or “Fortnite” (multiplayer fast-action games with players who already have six years of practice over you).
The games we give the most air to are all very similar titles, many of which are unappealing to new players. When a great visual novel like “Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo” comes along, it’s very rare that it makes significant waves outside of an existing audience for visual novels. But I think something like “Paranormasight” is far more inviting to the gaming layman than something like “God of War: Ragnarok.”
Against all odds, a lot of people don’t like the increasingly homogenous open-world action game design that’s become synonymous with AAA prestige. A lot of people don’t care about annually released sports games or hyper-competitive twitchy shooters. And because these are the games that make it to the “mainstream,” a stunning number of people have concluded that they simply don’t like video games at all. It’s a little depressing to me.
So more than anything, this is a call to arms. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like games, I truly want you to pick up something new. I want you to scroll through itch.io or the Steam store and find something you’ve never heard of. I want you to take a chance on a story that sounds neat or some cover art that looks pretty.
I want you to play more games. Because when you write off a whole medium as something that’s just not for you, you’re placing profound limits on yourself.
Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a sophomore studying virtual reality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @sorrelkj.