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‘Overwatch 2’ Gameplay Trailer: A Shot-By-Shot Analysis

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BlizzCon 2019 is well underway and one of the biggest announcements that came with it was that Overwatch was indeed getting a sequel aptly named Overwatch 2. This didn’t really come as a surprise due to the recent leaks (all of which turned out to be true) but we got a brand new cinematic as well as a gameplay trailer and a demo that attendants of the convention got the opportunity to play through.  While the gameplay trailer doesn’t actually show a huge amount of gameplay, it seems like a good place to start with a shot for shot analysis to see what information we can garner about the upcoming title.

So as Lucio would say, let’s break it down!

The Omnics Are Coming

The trailer starts with Lucio speaking to the rest of the Overwatch team through comms to say that he is being overrun by Null Sector, the omnic threat that ignited the war between humans and omnics within the lore of the game. He says he will hold them as long as he can as we see him looking out at a huge aerial ship later said to be the omnic command centre. Lucio’s home country of Rio de Janerio is one of the new maps being introduced to the game and we get a pretty clear look at it here. We also see some of Lucio’s new look, but more on the character updates later.

Ironclad

Next we see Ironclad Industries, sure to be associated with Torbjörn and Brigitte due to their affiliation with The Ironclad Guild. Ironclad Industries looks like it will be a part of the new map based in Gothenburg, Sweden, the home land of Torbjörn and his daughter. We hear Torbjörn ask Reinhardt why he is there and Reinhardt responds with, “It’s happening again” in reference to the Null Sector attacks.

Uprising

Brigitte narrates that Null Sector threat was clearly not just a one off occurrence, but instead a fully fledged invasion on a global scale.

Battlefield Banter

The best look at some of the new character designs comes in the next moment of the trailer when Lucio and Tracer share a few words whilst  on the battlefield. There is certainly a crisper feel to their new look. More on that later when we see some of the other heroes.

Story Missions

The next element of Overwatch 2 that we get to see is the incorporation of story missions. These look to be similar to the Archives events from the current Overwatch but on a larger scale. A feature often asked for in Overwatch was a story mode of sorts. The lore of Overwatch is vast but very little of it is actually included in the game, so this may well be the narrative element that we have been waiting for. We also get a look at Reinhardt, Mei and Tracer as they prepare to take on a mission.

There is also another look at the mission set in Gothenburg. Two more heroes make an appearance here, Bastion and Torbjörn, as they fight alongside Brigitte and Reinhardt. The story missions are going to be introducing an item system which allows for certain items to be equipped for the duration of the mission such as barriers, grenades and healing systems.

Student and Teacher

One of the characters who is spectacularly lacking in narrative involvement is Zenyatta. There is a little bit that can be gathered about his background as a Shambali monk who acted as Genji’s mentor but not much else is known. We get a shot of Genji and Zenyatta here, suggesting that Genji will get a story mission involving his former mentor. Here’s hoping that Zenyatta finally gets the attention and lore that he deserves.

Talon Trouble

Terrorist organisation Talon has had a major role in Overwatch history, with several of the games playable characters being current or former members. In the “Retribution” Overwatch event, the player must fight against several elite Talon soldiers and we see them here in the trailer (including that damn irritating sniper). We then see Doomfist declaring that “Nobody will stop us”. Doomfist is the leader of Talon and is sure to be a viable threat to Overwatch. On the official Play Overwatch website, Talon is described as an “enemy faction” alongside the omnics of Null Sector so they may have multiple missions based around them that include the Talon characters (Widowmaker, Reaper etc) in interesting ways.

Headquarters

A quick look at some kind of base for the Overwatch team and some of the new designs for the members. We see Mei, Lucio, Genji, Reinhardt, Winston, Mercy, and the newest addition, Sojourn. As I previously said, their designs definitely look a little more polished than their Overwatch designs.

World Map

The team gather around a world map with several key areas highlighted. Overwatch fans will already be familiar with most of the pinpointed areas as they already have maps in game. There are only two locations that are new but they will be getting new maps in Overwatch 2: Toronto and Rio De Janeiro.

Hero Missions

Another feature in the sequel will be Hero Missions. These will be more specific missions set for certain characters. The trailer boasts that Hero Missions will have “highly replayable co-op” as we see another father and daughter team up with Torbjörn and Brigitte. There is then a shot of Winston and Mercy in the well known Route 66 map (I think I spotted Ashe in the background too) fighting against Null Sector. This is followed by a mission between Tracer, Lucio and Hanzo and this is where we see one of the more interesting additions to the sequel .

Level Up

The Hero Missions will include a level up system and a range of new abilities for the heroes. The example we get is Tracer. We see the two abilities that she has at level one — Adaptive Reload and Hindsight — and the player gets to choose between one that will be usable in the mission. As the character becomes a higher level, more abilities become available to choose from. It is an RPG element at its most basic, which is a little disappointing to me as I would assume that a whole new game could warrant a vaster skill tree. However, during the Overwatch 2 panel at Blizzcon, Jeff Kaplan stated that this was a feature in early development and could be changed during production. It is still an interesting addition to the formula that separates hero missions from story missions.

Abilities and Combos


Customisable abilities are shown off further in the next few shots which show Genji throwing his blade into a group of enemies to take out several at once.

The next hero whose new ability we see is Mei as she encases herself within her ice block and then releases a blast which freezes those around her. It looks similar to her current ultimate ability but looks a little less cumbersome in that she doesn’t have to throw Snowball out first.

An example of a combination of abilities is shown next as Reinhardt smashes the enemies that Mei had frozen with an ability called “Hammer Strike”. Combinations of ultimates is possible now so it is no surprise that combining abilities would be introduced in the new system.

Push It Real Good

A new PVP game mode is the next feature to be shown in the trailer: Push. The game mode will feature teams fighting to escort a giant robot into enemy territories. The team that pushes the robot furthest wins. This does sound like a fun new addition, but it seems like a game mode that could have been added to the current Overwatch. I do worry that there won’t be enough new material to actually warrant a full sequel but hopefully these worries will be alleviated. The Push robot, however, is one of the best parts of the whole trailer. I would die for him and I probably will repeatedly.

New Maps

A few new maps have been announced for Overwatch 2 as well: Toronto, Rio de Janerio and Gothenburg. Again, I do wonder whether this material warrants a full game rather than just an expansion of the original. Perhaps a whole new host of maps will be announced closer to the release date. The maps, new characters and the Push PVP mode will also be available to play on the original Overwatch with both Overwatch and Overwatch 2 players able to join in and play together. This is just one of the few crossover features from the original game. Players will also be able to access their skins and all the characters from Overwatch in Overwatch 2.

Makeover

The trailer then shows the new looks of the core characters being used in the marketing for Overwatch 2: Tracer, Reinhardt, Mei, Lucio and Mercy. Reinhardt’s man bun is magnificent. Lucio’s green locks are glorious. Mercy has had a haircut, possibly to avoid desperate players yanking her ponytail while screaming for healing. Mei has a cool new outfit and hair style (see what I did there?) and Tracer looks a little more hi-tech than she originally did. She also seems to have had a change in body shape, looking more realistic and curvier than she did before. As a woman who constantly struggles with body image issues (who doesn’t in this day and age?) it is nice to see a design change to make a female character look more real.

Artwork from development also shows a new style for Torbjörn and Bastion. Bastion has a hat and that makes me so very happy.

Sojourn

The trailer then announces new heroes for the game but the only one currently confirmed is Soujorn, a cybernetically enhanced Canadian member of the original Overwatch team who has been teased since the very first animated short. Sojourn clearly has a strong link to the main narrative of Overwatch so her involvement is no surprise. Another character that we saw in the new “Zero Hour” cinematic is Echo, a robot who was introduced in the “Reunion” animated short and whose concept art is used in the original trailer for Overwatch.  It is possible that she could be introduced as a hero at some point, though there is no confirmation yet.

Actual Gameplay!

The last few shots of the trailer seem to be the actual gameplay. You can tell that the HUD has been changed somewhat, more so for the story and hero missions than PVP.  There is some Lucio, Widowmaker, Reaper, Reinhardt and Tracer gameplay.

The story/hero gameplay shows an extra ability icon on the bottom right hand side for each character that takes longer to refresh than normal. This is likely the ability that the player gets to choose in the hero missions.


There isn’t a huge amount changed in terms of gameplay that can be seen in this small segment but again everything looks a little crisper, clearer and more fluid.

Shoot Em Up

We get a small glimpse of Sojourn’s weapon in the next shot as we see what looks a highlight intro for her. She has a rather large gun but the best part is when she leaps into the air and her other arm turns into a different gun. A hero with cybernetic abilities — such as the whole turning limbs into weaponry things — could be really fun to play and could combine with other heroes quite well.

Overwatch 2

As I said, I’m not sure as to whether a full game is entirely necessary for the additional features that will be included. The story and the hero missions all look very similar to the events in Overwatch but it is possible that they could have more substance. I should certainly hope so for the price tag of a full game. The crossover between Overwatch and Overwatch 2 is also promising but it makes me wonder as to whether the original Overwatch will eventually be rendered redundant by the sequel. I am a massive Overwatch fan (if you couldn’t already tell) so I was super excited when I saw the announcement. I try to be realistic though, hence the skepticism. I am really hoping that Overwatch 2 will offer a strong narrative experience that will be worth the price of admission.

Overwatch 2 does not yet have a release date. Stay tuned for more info. Check out the latest animated short “Zero Hour” below.

Antonia Haynes resides in a small seaside town in England where she has lived her whole life. She's a simple girl with a passion for zombies, writing, film, television, drawing, superheroes, Disney and, of course, video games. Her ideal day would consist of junk food, fluffy pyjamas and video games because quite frankly going outside is overrated. Follow her on Twitter on @RainbowMachete

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What are Some of the Switch’s Best Indie Devs Making?

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The Nintendo Switch has quickly become the preferred platform for some of the most talented indie studios in the industry. Its pick-up-and-play form factor and Nintendo’s concerted effort to court smaller developers this generation (complete with indie-specific Directs) has resulted in a library that’s positively flourished.

Despite the eShop falling victim to some of the discoverability and shovelware issues that long plagued Steam, there have been some real standouts over the years. Since video games take quite a while to produce, there’s often speculation as to what some of the premier developers have been working on. Let’s take a look at four of the most recognized indie studios on the platform and have some fun trying to figure out what they might be up to.


Sidebar Games

It’s hard to believe that 2017’s Golf Story was Sidebar Games’ first project as a studio. The two-man team from down under balanced a delightful dose of Australian-tinged humor with clear callbacks to the Mario sports games of old to deliver one of the best Switch exclusives in 2017, bar none.

Unlike the other studios on this list, Sidebar has been extremely silent on development progress; we can only glean bits and pieces from the few interviews they’ve done. We know the game has been in development for roughly two years and that Sidebar was still in active development as of March 2019 when they put out the call for a pixel artist for their next project. There’s also a fair chance that the new game will either be Switch-exclusive or target Switch first, seeing as how Golf Story is still one of the Switch’s top 10 best-selling indie games to date as of Spring 2019. If exclusivity worked so well the first time, why not try it again?

What Can We Expect?

Whatever Sidebar is working on, it’s almost guaranteed to be single-player and story-focused. One half of the dev team, Andrew, has gone on record multiple times saying that he’s “very partial to story modes.” This also players into one of their strengths; though there was a great time to be had with Golf Story’s golf, it was all elevated by the game’s ridiculous-yet-lovable characters and wacky situational humor.

Since the team has already deconfirmed a sequel as their next project, there’s really not much to go on. While I’d personally love them to tackle something Mario Tennis-inspired next, there’s a good chance they’ll avoid sports altogether. As long as the wit found in Golf Story is alive and well, though, their core audience is sure to be interested.


Fabraz

Despite being incredibly simple from a visual standpoint, the deceivingly charming Slime-San is still one of the best platformers to come out in recent memory. The game’s striking three-color art style isn’t just unique, but it’s also ingrained into the platforming mechanics in inventive ways. Beyond having a look all its own and a stiff challenge for players who wanted it, however, Fabraz went the extra mile to build a fun cast of characters and even a hub world to explore outside of the main game. It was a pleasant surprise from a relatively unknown developer at the time.

Fabraz has been anything but complacent since Slime-san’s launch. The studio released two free content expansions, ported the game to other consoles, and even got into the publishing business. No matter their other ventures, however, the team has made sure to tease their next project every so often since the start of 2019.

What Can We Expect?

Fabraz speculated that their new game was already roughly 60% complete at the start of October. Since it only began production in December of 2018, it’s safe to assume that the next game will be relatively small in scope. It’s also likely that Fabraz’s next outing won’t be “Slime-san 2,” since the original game received such heavy content additions months after release (including an expansion literally titled “Sheeple’s Sequel.” The team certainly knows how to make magic from very limited resources, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with a bit more of a budget, a new art style, and tons more experience.


Game Atelier/FDG Entertainment

It feels like Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom came out of nowhere. The team at FDG Entertainment had published indie darling Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King just the year prior and the console port of Oceanhorn before that, but there wasn’t much talk about FDG’s capabilities as a developer. As it turns out, however, Game Atelier’s choice to bring them on as a co-developer was the best thing that could’ve possibly happened to Monster Boy. Five long years of development later and fans were treated to one of the best platformers in recent memory.

Though it launched on all consoles, Monster Boy famously sold eight times more on Switch than PS4 and Xbox One combined, reminiscent of the sales of Blossom Tales on Switch. Needless to say, FDG’s next title will be targeted squarely as the Nintendo community. But what could that next project be?

What Can We Expect?

A Monster Boy sequel. FDG recently celebrated their collaboration with Game Atelier on Twitter and announced that they’re collaborating once more. The commercial and critical success of Monster Boy can only lead one to believe they’re hard at work on a follow-up together. Thankfully, with such a solid base to work off of now, this one shouldn’t take nearly as long to release.


Chucklefish

Chucklefish has garnered a great deal of respect in the indie community as both a developer (Starbound, WarGroove) and frequent publisher (Stardew Valley, Timespinner, the upcoming Eastward, and others). Their eagerness to bring so many of their top-notch titles to Switch has made them one of–if not the–most lauded indie studios on the platform. If it’s coming from Chucklefish, there’s a good chance it’ll be of the highest quality.

What Can We Expect?

Witchbrook! Chucklefish announced the game way back in 2017 and instantly had both Harry Potter and Little Witch Academia fans foaming at the mouth. It’s a magical school simulation/RPG where players will attend class, learn spells, make friends, date, and work towards graduation. The company’s CEO and lead designer, Finn, has been incredibly open about the game’s development from the beginning. In fact, he made the ever-changing Witchbrook design document public in August of 2019 to give some insight into the game design and planning process.

Since there’s already so much we know about where the game’s going, this is going to be used as more of a “Hopes for Witchbrook” section. To keep it short, let’s keep it to two of the most make-or-break elements: dating and world-building.

Dating

One of the things many RPGs struggle with is making dating feel meaningful after the relationship starts. People love romancing in Stardew Valley, but the experience itself is really rather shallow; bring characters their favorite items, talk to them daily, experience a few touching cutscenes and voila! All that’s left is to put a ring on it and have a baby.

My hope is that in Witchbrook, the real fun starts after the relationship begins. Being able to have lunch together, go to festivals, celebrate anniversaries, plan outings, and even introduce them to the player’s in-game friends would go a long way in making the relationship feel more than a ribbon to be crossed.

World-Building

When someone asks the seminal question “What fictional world would you love to live in?” the world of Harry Potter almost always tops to list (right next to Pokémon, that is). It isn’t just because of magic itself or the emotional ties people have to the cast, but more so because of the immense amounts of personality and lore J.K. Rowling infused into the world. From the dark history of Hogwarts to the vast array of magical beasts to the establishment of Quidditch, there is a whole movie and video game series that has been created based on mere slices of the Harry Potter universe.

Naturally, it’d be silly to expect Chucklefish to achieve as much depth in an indie project as one of the most successful authors of all time did over the course of seven books, but there’s still plenty of potential. Since the game will primarily take place at the school, exploring why the school was created and how it’s changed over the years could be quite interesting. Then there’s how different populations of the world at large feel about magic, how various magical species play a part, the favorite magic-imbued pastimes of students in the world of Witchbrook, and so on. The key will be to infuse magic into every element of the world (and gameplay) as naturally as possible. And after reading through the extensive design doc, I’ve no doubt Chucklefish will be able to pull it off.


The indie scene on the Switch is thriving more than ever. New talented developers are making the platform their home every day, and those who’ve already proved themselves are hard at work on their next premium experience. The next wave of releases from these studios can’t come soon enough.

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‘Death Stranding’: And Now for Something Completely Different

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Death Stranding Slow Connectivity

Video gaming as a medium has often been perceived as little more than a toy. Even with Nintendo pushing the NES as a part of the home and more than just a toy– a strategy they’d adopt again for the Wii– there are still many who see games as toys, rather than an expression of an art form. It makes perfect sense, though. If there’s one thing modern video game culture has pushed front and center this past decade, it’s instant satisfaction. As big-budget games embrace homogeneity, the medium’s priorities have shifted from capitalizing on its inherent interactivity to making sure gamers are never bored with their $60 toy. Reggie Fils-Aime famously said “If it’s not fun, why bother?” for a reason, but when every big-budget game is paced the same, structured the same, and plays the same, where’s the fun to be found? 

About Death Stranding…

It’s far too early to even assume what kind of impact Death Stranding will have on the medium & industry (if any), but as one of the last big budgets games to release in 2019, Hideo Kojima’s first crack at the “strand game genre” is a nice note to cap the decade off on– one that serves as an almost necessary palette cleanser as the medium heads into the 2020s. Death Stranding offers audiences a chance to breathe, to look at themselves in the mirror, and to reconnect. Not just with the world and others, but with a medium built on interactivity. 

Hideo Kojima is often criticized for his cutscene ratio, to the point where it’s not unusual to see critics suggest he just make a film, but the fact of the matter is that most games do need a story. Not just that, video games have the potential to present a story better than any other medium. Readers and viewers can place themselves in the shoes of their protagonists, but a game makes the player become the protagonist. How we control our characters, how we play, how we interact with a virtual world– all this is a reflection of ourselves, one that only the gaming medium can offer. 

Not that it often does, at least not meaningfully. Modern developers are afraid to lose consumer interest, and the increasing shift towards the “games as a service” model has ensured that gameplay loops are simple to pick up, simple to get into, and simple to stay into. Games are something to be played with– toys. And there’s immense value in that. Video games can be a fantastic way to reduce stress & clear one’s thoughts regardless of how they’re designed, but such an approach means that the average gamer is going to be accustomed to gameplay loops that are structurally derivative of one another. 

On the flip side, there are the games that prioritize narrative too much, or simply devalue their own gameplay with extraneous content. From Hideo Kojima’s own gameography, this is a mistake he clearly made with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Even from this decade, it can be argued that what little importance Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain placed on the story ended up hurting it in the long run because it distracted from the core gameplay loop. There’s a reason so many developers follow similar game structures and build off similar foundations: they’re reliable, they get the job done, and it does result in great games. Both The Last of Us and God of War (2018) are clear examples of how mechanically homogenous & predictable games have gradually become this past decade, but they’re still great games.

Death Stranding is one of the slowest AAA titles to release in quite a long time.

Death Stranding is most comparable to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and perhaps The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but really only on the most surface of levels. Death Stranding has AAA backing, but it has the creativity and ingenuity of a modern indie. While AAA developers have lined up for uniformity, the indie half of the medium has arguably never been better. Those who grew up alongside video games are now developing their own, calling back to and even evolving forgotten genres. All the while, AAA games only move closer to the Disneyfication of movie production– hit all the key demographics, make it “accessible” for everyone, and make sure there are no real ideals or beliefs. No need to upset potential consumers, right? 

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Death Stranding was backed by Sony and developed by a massive development team, but Hideo Kojima’s direction is far more in-line with the modern indie scene than that of his AAA cohorts. Death Stranding is one of the slowest AAA titles to release in quite a long time. It’s slow to start, slow to pick up, and even the core gameplay loop is slow. It takes hours before players get their first vehicle, and even longer before they finally get a weapon. Death Stranding saves its actual core gameplay loop for so late in the experience that it’s not unreasonable to suggest the game sees an entire genre shift halfway through. But that’s missing the point. Death Stranding’s “genre shift” is only going to feel so for those who don’t want to engage with the first half’s crawl– those who just want to play with a toy. 

Of course, just wanting something simple and immediately engaging to play is fair enough. For working adults with limited time to play a game, in particular, but not every game is going to resonate with everyone, even if a game like Death Stranding is designed for anyone. Death Stranding seems inaccessible & foreign in a generation where every big genre release plays like the last, but between a myriad of difficulty options and an online system designed to make the player’s life easier– one that works & works well– Death Stranding takes the medium’s interactivity to its next logical step: connectivity. Real connectivity, though. A connection that goes beyond playing against or with someone for a few minutes. 

In Death Stranding, players can leave a tangible mark on, and in, the world. Players can build structures for others, share with others, and just do something as simple as “liking” others. Those opening hours are incredibly valuable as– without the means to kill or fight back– players are forced to interact with the game world on a deeper level beyond combat. Death Stranding takes its time developing its gameplay loop, drip-feeding weapons, and concepts. Even the online component opens itself slowly, forcing players to understand what it means to be alone before they can forge real connections– with the world, others, or themselves. 

This is what Hideo Kojima understands better than the majority of modern AAA developers: games can connect a feeling directly to the player. Death Stranding’s best moments (as any should be) stem from gameplay. Kojima’s storytelling is engaging as ever, but it exists to bolster the gameplay– as does the slow pacing, as does the aggressive enemy AI, as does locking out weapons for hours on end– everything in Death Stranding is ultimately in service of connecting players to Sam in a way that feels genuinely meaningful. Through Sam, audiences can observe an America that’s in ruins, but one that society is rebuilding.

As Sam reconnects America, opportunities arise to finish bridges for others, leave supplies in remote areas, or just warn of dangers ahead. It’s very Dark Souls-esque in nature, but with a gameplay loop that minimizes traditional action, Death Stranding is the rare AAA game that’s bold enough to embrace the medium and everything it represents, for better or worse. A video game interacts with an audience in a way that books and film can’t. Controlling an avatar is an intimate act and reflects us better than most might realize. Death Stranding recognizes this fact, turns its back on modern gaming mainstays, and attempts to reconnect the medium together. 

Death Stranding is a slow game, but the longer path walked only presents an opportunity to reconnect oneself to the heart of gaming: interactivity. 

AAA gaming and the indie scene shouldn’t be divided. A gameplay loop doesn’t need instant satisfaction to be engaging. Story and gameplay shouldn’t feel disconnected. Standard online multiplayer can be more rewarding when PvP elements are tossed to the wayside or even just outright ignored. Death Stranding resembles the average AAA title in many respects, but it allows itself to be eclectic, off-putting, & sincerely unfiltered– in regards to politics, human nature, video games themselves. Only time will tell if “strand games” will take off, but keep in mind that the stealth genre didn’t exist when the hit “action” game Metal Gear released for the MSX2 in 1987. As Death Stranding makes abundantly clear, everything changes with time. 

The 2010s have not been a bad decade for the medium, far from it. The past ten years have seen truly legendary consoles and games come out of the woodwork, but it’s impossible to deny the shift that occurred (and had been occurring) in AAA game development– one that’s driven the medium far away from meaningful interactivity, where flavor of the month games long to be played for all eternity, like Toy Story-esque monstrosities given form. Death Stranding is a slow game, but the longer path walked only presents an opportunity to reconnect oneself to the heart of gaming: interactivity. 

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From Escape to Inspiration: How Video Games Promote Creativity

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Escape

The stresses of everyday life are often enough to put heavy strain on even the sharpest and most durable of minds. No one is immune to the pressures of work, school, or even the personal struggles that weigh down on everyone. Now more than ever, with advancements in technology and the increased prominence of fantastical immersion, video games have become more of an escape for people of all ages.

No longer are video games considered the medium for children looking to “waste time.” Rather, these virtual worlds have transformed into an integral part of how a grand portion of the globe’s population interacts with each other. Moreover, video games offer a much-needed respite from one’s struggles, drawing people into a fictitious realm in which they journey with a hero on their adventures in a compelling fable, or compete with other players worldwide.

Whatever one’s reasons for playing, video games are an outlet through which gamers alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and a myriad of other emotions, giving rise to joy and relaxation alongside a sense of accomplishment. This escape provides users with an opportunity to not only temporarily get away from whatever troubles them, but also inspires them and promotes creativity.

Inspiration

The old ways of acquiring inspiration (books, role models, school, friends and colleagues, etc.) are still tried and true. However, just as humans have evolved over millennia, so, too, have the means of stimulus and influence. Alongside these traditional sources of encouragement comes video games—visual, interactive stories and competitions that stimulate one’s mind and get hearts pumping and adrenaline rushing.

From betrayal to romance, the most traditional storytelling tropes have been plucked from novels and cinema to create these immersive, interactive worlds. Video games offer lessons in commitment, dedication, persistence, and so much more. Repeatedly, fans see their favorite heroes get knocked down, and then those same fans take control of those heroes and take them through the journey of picking themselves back up.

Assassin’s Creed II has players take control of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, even after they witness half the character’s family murdered before their very eyes. They join Ezio on his journey to avenge his family and develop into someone who refuses to give up, who uses ingenuity to learn and expand his own horizons to accomplish his goals—a tale of hope for anyone struggling to bounce back after trauma and tragedy.

Furthermore, from a technical standpoint, the advancement of video games in terms of how much they have evolved over the years is enough to inspire any aspiring video game developer. Taking one look at the beautiful worlds companies like Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square Enix, 343 Industries, and so many more create does wonders to convincing a plethora of gamers to learn how to code or write a compelling story.

Despite previous misconceptions that video games only give people a space in which to waste time, this hobby (or often profession, if one considers the earnings of the top eSports competitors) has shifted opinions to a more curious perspective. It’s difficult to ignore something so popular that promotes so much creativity.

Creativity

Initially, video games were a mere medium of entertainment. Simple games like Pong did little to foster the mental acuity of their users. However, since the 1980s, video games have surpassed their meager, albeit fun, precursors. Solving puzzles, exploring vast geographies, and overcoming challenging obstacles are just some of the facets of modern video games that force players to think a little deeper about the game’s objectives.

Sometimes, the direct path isn’t the answer, and video games teach players how to come up with alternative solutions to their problems. For example, titles like 2018’s Kingdom Come: Deliverance or 2001’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic give gamers the ability to choose how to complete certain missions, forcing them to deal with different consequences depending on the choices they make. Not all problems are easy, and video games can help equip players with the tools they will need to think about multiple possible solutions to a challenge.

Beyond ruminating about alternative solutions, the creativity avid gamers develop through video games will help them in other ways, such as their ability to think critically about certain concepts and form their own perspectives on complicated situations. Is the Dragonborn character gamers control in Skyrim defined only as the Dragonborn, or does that character bring more to the table than being a slayer who can communicate with mighty, scaly, winged lizards?

Video games keep fans’ minds churning with ideas for their own stories, whether those tales are reflections of their own lives or the inspiration for elements of their own literary or cinematic endeavors. Fans often draw courage from the heroes in their favorite titles, looking to them to help them out of a rut or learn how to deal with their own troubles. 

Whether learning how to use a little more diplomacy to negotiate through a bad situation or finding the gumption to learn martial arts to stay in shape or for self-defense, much of gamers’ motivation can be traced back to the inspiration they garnered from the heroes they see in all forms of media, and video games are no exception.

Evolution

Just as humans have to crawl before they walk, video games had to start small and gain traction before the world was ready to advance them to their current state. No longer are these virtual, interactive worlds a backdrop that people use to merely pass the time. Rather, they are the catalyst for courage, inspiration, creativity, and entertainment.

While video games have come a long way since the early days of Pong, they have still only progressed to a state of adolescence. Technology is advancing at a more rapid rate than ever before, and companies are no longer limiting themselves in terms of what they can achieve with one of the fastest-growing, financially prosperous, emotionally charged industries the world has ever seen. 

Dylan Warman

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