The Games of Life

Until recently, my video game playing experience had pretty much ended when I flipped the high score playing Asteroids on the Atari 2600 in the early 80s. I never became a fan of the gratuitous violence in first-person shooter and martial arts games that were popular in the 1990s, and eventually concluded that I wasn’t a “gamer”.

After becoming Marriott Library’s liaison to the U’s EAE program, I realized being a non-video game player was not an option. So, I audited Alf Seegert’s “Video Games and Storytelling” course, as a means to find my way back into the genre. (I highly recommend you take it, too!) In his class, I came to appreciate the diversity of indie-produced video games that prioritized narrative, commenting the breadth of the human experience: empathy, monotony, immigration, motherhood, dissociative identity disorder, the death of a child.

Marriott Library’s video game collection offers titles that go well beyond entertainment, illustrating themes and challenges from our daily lives:

  • The Last Guardian – A boy and a mythical animal slowly develop a trusting friendship.
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Siblings overcome obstacles to save the life of their father, and in remembrance to recently passed relatives.
  • Journey – Meet up with other travelers (real people also playing Journey elsewhere in the world) while traversing the remnants of a fallen civilization.
  • Firewatch – A Shoshone National Forest ranger investigates mysterious crimes, including a wildfire.
  • Thomas Was Alone – Acquaintances with unique dispositions, body shapes (the geometric kind), and skills work together to tackle every obstacle placed in their way.
  • Spec Ops: The Line – US military personnel make morally ambiguous decisions while evacuating a post-catastrophe Dubai.
  • The Talos Principle – An android collects human knowledge on the path to enlightenment.
  • Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection – Interact with historical figures from the Italian Renaissance while waging a battle between authoritarian rule and free will.

Check them out, along with many books commenting on the intersection of video games and the human experience, by searching the Marriott Library’s catalog for the tag “video games and human experience”.

Greg Hatch

Head of Creativity & Innovation Services

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