The following piece was written by Brian Wilmeth, a 25 year old aspiring author (and gamer) from Park Slope, Brooklyn. He is currently working on a book entitled “Life is More Like a Video Game Than You Think” (working title), and in it he describes many ideas how life is basically one big game and we’re all essentially just trying to “level up” in a sense. We here at DualShockers have been fortunate enough to have the author of the piece send us a condensed a version, one of which we can share with our readers. It isn’t the chapter you will see when the book is published, but more of a detailed summary of what your can expect when it is. We will run this as a weekly series, giving all of the readers out there an exclusive chapter per week. Check back often, as this young and hungry author seems to have a real hit in his hands. Enjoy the reading.
Chapter 1: Happiness and Life and Video Games
Life is all about happiness. That’s why we play video games, or at least I hope that’s why we play video games. If a video game isn’t fun anymore, and we still play it, we say it has addictive value. But that isn’t what drew us to the game in the first place. I have played video games all my life and it took me a while to realize that all I wanted was happiness. Mario made me happy. Link made me happy. Metroid made me happy.
But also, these games frustrated the hell out of me. Do you remember how difficult Metroid and Zelda was? I would die dozens of times and start over again hoping to get a little further this time around. Hoping to get past a particularly difficult part. And I might get past that part only to die and start all over again.
Isn’t life like that sometimes? Some people give up and don’t try at all. My sister was one of those people when it came to video games.” This is too hard Brian, I give up!” She did that with every video game except one of them (Chrono Trigger) and even then she gave up at the final boss.
I can understand though, video games are hard, life is hard, and unless you enjoy the process, you are going to give up. I remember other games that I used to rent for the Nintendo that were nearly impossible. These games did not keep me long, although I do not quit easily, I quit these games. But the majority of time, video games were enjoyable.
Before video games I watched movies. But in movies I had no control over what happened, now I had complete control. My first video game was Super Mario Bros for the Nintendo. My first experience with this game occurred when I was 4. I was upstairs in my parents tenant’s apartment and I remember being as though enchanted as I watched the little Mario jump on a shell and kick it. I remember it being one of the best feelings of my life. I knew from that point on I had to own a Nintendo. I think I became 6 before I finally got one.
Upon much insight and reflection I am starting to believe that it wasn’t the video game at all that made me so enchanted, but what was put into it. There were bad video games, good video games, just like there are bad and good movies. Being a video game didn’t automatically make you enjoyable. It was more then that. It was the energy and intention of the video game producer.
Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario) was and excellent example of this. I believe his sole objective was to make his games fun. It wasn’t his fun lovable characters that made the games as good as they were, but it was every aspect of the game (the play control, the graphics, the storyline). He poured his heart and soul into his games and they became classics.
But how did he know he was making a fun game? I think it’s because he enjoyed making and playing them himself. That is the only test someone can trust. There are other games similar to Mario out there but they suck in comparison. If it’s similar to Mario, why isn’t the game more successful? My best guess is the creators of the Mario look-alike didn’t even enjoy playing their own game. They made it as a copycat version and logically deduced that if Mario was successful then their game would be successful as well and therefore the company could make money. I believe in this case money was the prime motivator, and in the former case, happiness was the motivator.
But does happiness exist outside of video games? Of course it does! One person can be happy watching a field of grass while another can be miserable. It suggests that our happiness is a pleasurable experience that comes out from within us. So unless someone feels happy making a game, the game will probably suck.