A Meaning to Minecraft; a Point to Pokemon

For those of you who are unaware, I, like many of my peers, have grown up with video games being a huge part of my childhood. In fact, it wasn't until a couple years ago that I stopped playing them for hours every week, sometimes daily. Just by looking at the Gameboy to the left here I am transported back to hundreds of hours I've clocked in on Pokemon, all the hours I fantasized about games where all the Nintendo characters crossover into each other's games (this happened with Super Mario Bros.), the long nights of ridiculous, crass, carefree humor playing on Xbox Live.

I don't want to reminisce too much, but I am positive there are a great number of individuals who've had impressed into their lives at least one time where they experienced joy from a video game. Be it a social situation, an hour of boredom relieved, or an all-night lock-in to beat a game, everyone's experience has been enjoyed on a subjective level, but there's a common bond that I feel can be related to other types of media like music or movies.

The commonalties of interaction - entertainment, emotional connection, maybe even appreciation for the amount of work poured into whatever you may have enjoyed - are where I come to the conclusion that video games are not just a pass-time, but a legitimate art form.

This starts to make sense when you put together the ideas that video games can be a means of expression and communication, that they can be beautiful aesthetically, and that they even include entire other art forms (music, acting, writing, visual art, etc.). You could go as far as to say some select modern video games are a wholly realized, interactive fusion of several art forms.

Type "Beautiful Video Game" in Google; Get lots of Journey.

With that being said, there are also some imperative issues with video games and their captivating power in their interactive abilities. No, I'm not referring to the controversies over violent influence on players, nor the addictive tendencies developed that could be compared to that of a gambling problem. While those issues may have their demographic that needs to be addressed, there is a greater issue that is unseen: video games have been limited to a medium to reach entertainment, under-utilizing the ability to make a meaningful impact as an art form.

I know I'm naturally someone who seeks a deeper meaning in every aspect of life, but I'm not trying to advocate straight-up intense philosophy into video games, even though I think it'd be a completely valid  path for a game or game genre to take up. All I'm wishing for is that the primary focus of a game to push beyond the realm of removing the burdens of boredom. It seems that games with well developed and interesting stories like the Halo franchise put the action-packed gameplay in the forefront of its worth, making its story and any amount of meaning within it an afterthought for the majority of consumers (and believe me, it is riddled with social, political, and religious themes).

Take a gander at the picture below for a second or two.

Here we have at least one, if not multiple people, pouring their time, effort, and creative perspective into a Minecraft map to make their own unique creation. I would bet money that this took weeks worth of hours to create, all the individual details, planning out the creation, mining the resources for it. The bummer thing about it is that no one will admire this but the creator's colleagues, people he associates with on forums, and people like me, who googled "epic minecraft" and stumbled upon one of thousands of pictures to choose from.

It is downright amazing that people are doing things like this and downright sad that the huge significance is secluded into the community to which it is attributed to. Things like this go to show that people are motivated to play video games beyond the sake of mindless entertainment. They want to do something more, better, greater. I know I'm asking for what seems to be a lot, but when it comes down to it, there is an unmeasurable potential being wasted by game designers and consumers who don't understand that creativity is alinear, lateral, such as much in life. If people would put into and expect life to be in games, they would earn the attention, respect, and, most importantly, the worthiness of your time.

I quit playing video games because they do not stimulate me beyond exercising my basic mental capabilities. Once meaning and purpose become one of the lead innovations in gaming, I'll jump back in, first thing.

Video games should change lives, not waste them.

For games made by lateral thinkers, check out Proteus, Flower, and Portal.