Don't judge me. On the weekend I went to see West Side Story, and now I can say definitively that musical theatre is not my thing. There was part of the experience that stuck with me though. Before Carly and I went to the performance, I lamented the fact that there is no gaming equivalent to live theatre. You could set up a big screen, and get Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong to duke it out on Street Fighter IV, but few would see that as an exercise in high culture. After witnessing some inordinately tall and muscular men prance and tumble around on stage to emulate a knife fight, I came to the realisation that the skilled articulation of Street Fighter's world warriors is even more graceful and despite what my lovely fiance says, much more entertaining.
Save for the chanting between rounds, the crowd showed the same reverance towards the players as that observed for the actors on a stage. Slight exaggeration I guess, but the action was far more convincing, and there were far less campy songs about fighting (that didn't really sound overly threatening). To give you a taste of my pain:
We're gonna rock it tonight,
We're gonna jazz it up and have us a ball!
They're gonna get it tonight;
The more they turn it on the harder they'll fall!
These are lyrics from a song that is sung before people die! I'll concede that West Side Story is a little more coherent from a narrative perspective, but that is understandable when in SFIV you have twenty-something characters that can each be the focus of the story.
It's not that I didn't enjoy myself. The company was more than enough to make the night worthwhile, but it does sadden me somewhat to think that a night spent gaming will for sometime have as much cultural currency as witnessing a brawl in a carpark. Some (read: most) of my fondest memories have involved videogames, but I know of few who have experienced the heartbreak of murdering your mentor in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (players are forced to pull the trigger), or endured the death of your companions in the Fire Emblem games, or witnessed the betrayal of Hobbes in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. I'll never forget when I was first asked "Where do you want to go?" in Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure, or when I first conquered the lava spider in Devil May Cry. These are all events that shaped me in some way, but to most they are relegated to the realms of childish fantasy. I'm not trying to engage in the Are Games Art? debate, for me this issue has long been resolved (Games ARE works of art, live with it). What I am trying to say is that while the experiences listed above may not fit into the star crossed lovers paradigm, they still have dramatic and emotional impact.
What are the most powerful moments you've observed in videogames? What did you play this weekend?