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How to be Somebody Else, Someplace Else

(A List of My Favorite Video Games)

I like the escapism of video games. Life is tough, and rather than dealing with my problems, I can put it off by immersing myself in a game. I mean, life is full of games, but here, I mean video games. From financial issues to nicotine withdrawal to problems of the heart, video games have always been there for me when I need that artificial rush of dopamine. I love games. The creation and manipulation of experience is truly an art. I love art. Here’s a list of my top five favorite video games. I do talk about video game history, if you were wondering.

  1. Mortal Kombat I love violence. I find it so hard to actually physically harm anybody just because it’s not in my tendency but dear God, it feels good to watch. There’s certainly an addictive adrenaline rush to watching two human beings go at it. It’s the appeal of any form of competition, but becomes much more relatable because the figures look so much more real. The game was one of the first popular fighter games that used digitized sprites based on filmed actors, rather than just hand-drawn, cartoonish ones to represent in-game violence. It’s a low commitment, high-reward dopamine rush. I honestly chose Mortal Kombat over any other fighter game (because they’re all so similar to each other, realistically speaking,) just because of its historic significance. And the Fatalities are cool as hell.
  2. Skyrim To be completely frank, I think this game was legitimately revolutionary for the gaming industry, in the number of different possible playthroughs and the nearly infinite number of activities possible within the game, from fighting giants to mining ores to stealing from your enemies. You could even get married and adopt a kid if you really wanted. I love how Bethesda managed to appeal to so many different types of gamers and moods using an varied but cohesive collection of game mechanics. I remember playing it a lot in high school, when I was confined to the walls of my home and wishing I was somebody else, someplace else. I enjoyed the completely fantastical approach to it, escaping any concern or problem I had at the moment. It was my first experience in an open-world game with a completely customizable player, a blank slate which was made for me to impose my choices upon. It’s like the Sims, but with more fantasy, real violence, and a different perspective— Makes it so much easier to escape.
  3. Fallout: New Vegas I enjoy science fiction far more than I enjoy pure fantasy because of the slight level of relatability we can get from the technological obsession in the genre. I haven’t played the other Fallout games, but the combination of post-apocalyptic energy and 1950s aesthetic is oddly believable and endearing. During the game, your radio plays sweet songs from the 1950s, with intermittent pauses between songs, updating you to the news in whichever location you find yourself in. Set in the United States after a nuclear war between China and the U.S., the game seems oddly relevant. Victor the securitron can have my heart any time he wants, though. Bethesda once again has successfully managed to create in-game systems that have a healthy balance between grind and reward, making the tasks feel worth the effort as I develop my character with specific strengths and abilities, a blank slate in an imagined world filled with detail and depth. I wonder if they're ever going to let go of Elder Scrolls Online and actually make another beautiful stand-alone game to add to their collection, though. Too much money in it, I guess. I've never been too big into MMOs because of how they just scream money-grubbing capitalism. I do like playing online with friends, though... Victor can be my in-game friend, I guess. 🤷‍♀️
  4. Little Inferno This is a cute point-and-click game that you can binge in a couple hours. All you do is set fire to different objects you buy in a catalogue, earning coins from the ash. By burning different combinations of objects, you get to collect entertaining awards with accurately named titles and additional coins. It certainly appeals to the arsonist in me, and it's pretty well-designed to keep your attention too. The story, if you can believe that there is one, is about a person staying home, keeping warm as they burn everything they own. They receive letters and gifts from an obsessive lover and some sort of motherly figure, but our anti-hero burns them too. I think there were more people involved, but I don’t really remember. I played it when I was little and really depressed because I couldn’t really go outside and I didn’t have many friends. I think it’s an adequate game to play during Corona season, as we find ourselves isolated from our friends, finding warmth in our… phones? Addictions? Something.
  5. GTA: Vice City The Grand Theft Auto games have been one of the most influential series in all of gaming history in my opinion. Official art from the Vice City game is my background and lockscreen for all my devices. I love the iconic, bikini-clad cover girl... Anyway, the combination of controversy, technological innovation, and detail-oriented aesthetic dedication makes it unsurprising that every game of the saga has been a major money-maker for Rockstar. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was the first to come out after GTA’s initial transition to a 3D world with Grand Theft Auto III, essentially a trial run for the new feature. After seeing the success of the third game in the series, Rockstar essentially went all in, recreating a beautiful and, yet, satirical version of 1980s Miami. I love the indulgent, absurdist, hedonist freedom of it all. Speaking from a sales point, the next game in the series, San Andreas, was objectively more popular, but I’ve got a weak spot for the 1980s and I like to think that Vice City walked so that San Andreas could run. I personally really love the radio that plays whenever you get into a car and start driving through Vice City, the world colorful and vivid. I listen to it all the time, honestly.

Did you enjoy my list? Did you really read all that? Leave a reaction down below if you did. 😉 I really do recommend these games. Let me know what you think of my choices in the comments down below, or if you’ve got any suggestions for a game you think I’d like– that’d be pretty cool too. I think I’ve got anonymous commenting set up, if that’s something that interests you.