Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Determination in Gaming

            I must have been around fifteen when I had my first trance with video games. I have two older brothers, so I’ve always joined them, whether it was staying up late to do a couple of battles, or we had nothing better to do on a rainy day. My father even figured out how to hook up in the car when we had long road trips so we wouldn’t get bored. It’s not that I was new at video games, and it’s not that I didn’t understand them. But I definitely didn’t understand how one of my brothers could play video games all day and completely forget his responsibilities, his friends, or even that he has to eat.
            I was at my cousin’s house playing Nintendo64 while she was at work. I had rummaged through all of her games, most of which I had already owned, when I found a game called Harvest Moon. It was interesting and had a little anime boy on the cover. I didn’t know what to think, but it didn’t look like an action game so I thought maybe it would hold my attention. Sure enough, it did. I played that game for almost six hours until my cousin got home, and even some after that too. She walked in and was surprised I was playing such a ‘stupid’ game. But it was only stupid because she didn’t understand it. She never found out the concept and whole point of playing.
            In this game you are a young man that has just inherited his grandfather’s farm after passing. You have some neighbors come to greet you and welcome you to the small village. Along with this you are given a horse to train for the horse races, and a dog for the dog races. It’s really a lot of work to train them, and although isn’t necessary, it is advised. There are other goals, or requirements to the game as well, including finding a wife, having a child, making friends with everyone in town, having cows that produce golden milk, chickens that produce golden eggs, additions to your home, and so many more. When you begin playing there are no instructions and you just have to figure everything out, and from there you have three years till your father comes to visit you. If he is pleased with everything you’ve accomplished, you have won the game without it saying so. If he isn’t pleased, you see that all this time you’ve spent on your virtual life is just as sub-par as the one you are living in the actual world.
            This game is really cool; after a year of playing (in actual time) I started looking up cheats, hacks, and other facts about the game. There’s a girl in town, she is incredibly rude, and her parents own the winery/vineyard. Every time I’ve ever approached her she tells me ‘bye’, because she really doesn’t want to talk to anyone I suppose. I found out that I have to take her my dog roughly 250 times and then she falls in love with me. You can also make friends with some elves in the mining cave and then you meet a fairy princess. You can do dumb hacks like having an invisible baby, or even marry the bakery girl’s grandmother. All of which play no part in actually winning the game. You can continue playing the game after three years when your father visits you, which to me, also seems pointless, and after five years of playing you can turn into a female. I’ve never tried this, and maybe one day I will. But I doubt it.
            Which brings me to my first question. How is a person able to spend all or most of their free time playing a game? When I played this game, which I did for about three or four years, I would get so excited about all of my accomplishments, and in this game, there’s a lot. I would get excited about my next project, or when my love interest would come over for dates. I was living in a fantasy world where everything went my way. In fact, even in the game I had days where I did nothing and just went right to bed. But in my game I was controlling my life. Between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, I definitely didn’t have control of my life, and most kids didn’t. Even now I live in a world that I’m not in control of.
            To this day, my brother is twenty-six years old and he will go to work at eleven in the morning, get home at nine at night, turn on his video game, and play till the sun comes up. I don’t get it. I, personally cannot function like that. I go to school and work, I also have three dogs and bird that I take care of, along with trying to lose weight and make it to the gym every night after I’m completed homework, reading, or other chores for around the house. I feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, especially if I want to excel. If I do find myself with an hour or two of free time, I really just like to relax and not think for a little. That’s my escape, I don’t even have enough energy to think of another life to live.

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