In my last post I mentioned briefly about the “morality system” in Mass Effect. I explained a bit that I felt uncomfortable with that term as a catch-all used to explain the system governing how NPCs perceive you in the game. I realized during that process that I had taken up issue with that before to a lesser extent on an elsewhere in the internet. I decided I wanted to dedicate a bit more time to focus on it and break down why it bothers me so much. For starters it cheapens the experience to decide that it’s a morality system every time. Simplifying it to a “good vs evil” script makes it measurable against other games. So for anyone annoyed with game reviews being boiled down to numbers and foregoing the actual summary of the (dis)pleasure of playing the game – You should take fault on this point as well. It creates a commonality that allows quick dismissal of what can be one of the more interesting aspects of the game.

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I’ve recently been playing through Mass Effect and found my will as a player compromised by a turian named Garrus Vakarrian.

Garrus

Garrus, you broke my will.

For those unfamiliar with who Garrus is, he’s an alien character (turian) in the Mass Effect series. It’s a series best known for it’s heavy slant on storytelling and character building. Over the course of the first game you get a crew of allies… Six of them, but you’re only allowed to travel with two at a time. This gives you a way to get to know the characters. Often in elevators you get chatty exchanges of prejudice or malice between your group. With good reason, as most are aliens with an extended historical tapestry of war and survival as the species spread out from their home worlds, encountering each other along as they gain influence over the universe. Humans are no exception to this, as their first breach into deep space caused a war with the turians. As mentioned, Garrus is a turian. So with this established bias in the world as a human, systemically I should have friction with Garrus… Yet I can’t stop myself from agreeing with him.

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A blog. Yes, everyone has them. Including me now.

Why now? I have high hopes to catalog the thoughts that run through my head… Usually regarding video games. Which explains both the title and motive. The explanation of “it’s just a game” is not something I believe in when dismissing the impact of games culturally. I also have a lot of time on my hands that I feel I should be improving myself with in some way. I’d like to improve my writing.

I’m very adamant in my beliefs that video games are a reflection of who we are and our culture at large. It’s more than just entertainment medium meant for consumption. Through personal reflection I can see the choice of games I play and clearly identify why they appeal to me. Why I consider the gaming community a home of sorts. Aspects of me wrapped in code… Systems, visuals, and sounds. Every (good and bad) game I’ve played has had experiences that have left an imprint on me. Games have meaning. Some of the experiences are social and memorable because they were on a couch with some buddies, or others because they left me realizing how alone I was.

So keeping the introduction brief, I hope to eventually build a series of posts that I’m proud of and share with whoever may be reading this why I feel games are more than simply a consumable commodity; what I love about them.

I hope to keep this blog positive and personal. Personal in a way meaning my thoughts unaltered by outside discrimination.

~Punk

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(this article was originally written for a series that Marie the Bee hosted on her blog. She helped me edit it into it’s current form)

Growing up, video games had always been around and an integral part of my identity. A lot of my hobbies spawned from gaming. Through games I came to writing, anime, skateboarding, and programming. Games even shaped my interest in music.

The reason why games were so prevalent in my life? It was an escape from a rough childhood. I was the youngest of three growing up in a household with an alcoholic parent. My siblings were old enough to always go out with friends when there was trouble at home, but I was six years behind them. So, I had to endure my father’s unpredictable temper and mood swings. Then, when I was 13, my mother finally left him, and I was stuck in the middle of the divorce. My parents went back and forth vying for custody, with me overhearing and knowing it was because whoever had me collected child support from the other. Growing up in that environment combined with feeling like the only worth I had to my parents was a child support payment, I had no self-esteem to speak of and just wanted not to exist. I also still had to deal with the consequences of my father’s alcoholism. He couldn’t keep a job; we moved a lot. At 15, I dropped out of high school when he moved us away from my friends. He didn’t even care, he was so wrapped up in the bottle.

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