I recently read that Alec Baldwin loves video games, although had to overcome an addiction. These days it’s easy to see why with the ever escalating realism and escapism that they provide.
Take a look, for example, at a sports video game such as the popular Madden series, and you’ll swear it’s the real deal. The players are life-like, the movements fluid, and the announcers sound just like their real-life counterparts.
I always wondered, “wow, if this is how good these games look now, what about 10 years from now?”
Recently I had the chance to play a game called ‘Bioshock’ on the Sony PS3 video game console. It’s another jaw-dropping example of just how far developers and designers have come in creating these alternative universes.
From the opening plane crash to the discovery of a hidden underworld city called ‘Rapture’, the graphics are electrifying. Bold neon signs shimmer underwater advertising theaters, stores and even educational facilities.
Andrew Ryan, the ego-maniacal visionary of this new world, where individual achievement is celebrated, voices over the action from time-to-time extolling the virtues of a world where artists and entrepreneurs are not slowed by “parasites”.
As the action unfolds, I discover something has gone terribly wrong in Rapture. Leaks are springing up everywhere — “any leak is a bad leak” — causing water damage, fires and general chaos. Worse still, although not surprisingly, some form of mutant zombies are running around also reeking havoc.
“I am Andrew Ryan, and I’m here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? ‘No!’ says the man in Washington, ‘It belongs to the poor.’ ‘No!’ says the man in the Vatican, ‘It belongs to God.’ ‘No!’ says the man in Moscow, ‘It belongs to everyone.’ I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose… Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, Where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well. ” – Andrew Ryan, the maniacal Howard Hughes-like eccentric from Bioshock
There are several sub-plots. One involves an orphanage of girls, “little sisters”, trying to survive in a Mad Max kind of way. Another story line centers on a scheme to bring down Andrew Ryan and his extreme view of society. And there are several twists along the way, worthy of a blockbuster Hollywood movie.
I sometimes find myself more entertained playing Bioshock then I do watching a standard movie. Not only do you get all the cinematics and story lines in these types of video games, but you also get to be in the middle of things, interacting within the environment and impacting the progression. It’s no wonder the video game industry is larger than movies.
So I took a moment to Google an image of the classic first person shooter that started it all, called ‘Doom’. I wanted to see how similar, or different, it looked some 16 years later.
The visual differences are astounding, with a game like Bioshock light years ahead in terms of realism. But the fundamentals: the gun, ammo, your point of view are essentially the same.
It’s now a personal choice; do you prefer gunning down Nazis, zombies or criminals?
… “Would you kindly?”