Reading in-between the lines is a vital activity any fan of a good narrative can relate to. We consume complicated stories because we are seeking parts of ourselves within that story. While at once wishing to be someone else for a little while, video games allow us to be the most ideal versions of ourselves. We can be heroes, heroines, the antithesis of these things, or we can relate to minor characters and get lost in the minutia. Games are worlds our brains occupy in a very private fashion, and yet in a way that can unite whole communities. That is the power of a good narrative. Like a good book, a well-crafted game with a strong plot sucks us in and takes us away from our personal troubles. Doubly so when the main campaign is treated with dignity and respect, and not simply a means to fit the design of an engine. The humanitarian service of a great video game is subtly incalculable.
As an artist, I enjoy letting my mind rest in these safe places. Characters who are louder, stronger, and brasher than I will ever be let me pretend like I live in their skin when I sit down to draw. I like the relaxing sensation of drawing for drawing’s sake, and in a strange way, occupying the brainspace of an already fleshed out fictional character can, at times, be personally very encouraging. Where I am hesitant, Commander Shepard is decisive. Where my hands shake, Michael De Santa is strong-fisted. When I feel alone, Joel and Ellie are on my team.
Humans have been telling stories to each other since the very beginning, intent on teaching lessons. Some games exist on an interactive platform that is much more suited to sinking a certain message home. When you become Jimmy Hopkins, Laura Croft, or John Marston, you feel the weight of their decisions. A good game forces you to confront your own moral judgments. Is Booker DeWitt truly a villain? What about Trevor Philips? The more artists participate in their fandom communities, the more we encourage the gaming community to reach for deeper content. Whether it’s a stronger representation of the LGBTQIA+ community, or a stronger ethnic diversity, it’s our responsibility to ask more of our creators and expect more of ourselves as consumers.