What Happened to the Magic?
That magic of videogames: many a gamer it has touched. Mostly during childhood though — these days, as burgeoning adults with high aspirations, powering through those marshes of social fabric to the beat of various tunes, one would be lucky to receive even a light spattering of that endearing hocus-pocus. Oh but how it touched our spirits!
Flash back to 2000: An 11 year old boy watches as the camera pans outward. Up and up it goes, from the underground sewers of Deling city where a haunting vulnerability lingers, to the adorned golden tower from which our comrades are ready for an execution. A two fold execution actually: the execution of the plan to trap the evil sorceress (the lever must be pulled....now!) and the actual execution, the assassination that is, of this malicious entity (a face of pure evil!) by our flirtatious sharp-shooter. It all goes smoothly, until...Blunder! It's all gone to the scraps! And what's this? She knew about it all along!? The screen transitions and our young soldier readies his weapon: the PlayStation controller.
In hindsight, moments like this aren't just magical. They are sublime, lavishing the player with warm enduring memories, the kind that power us through dark and harsh times. A kind of light was born within me that day as I played through the end of disc 1 of Final Fantasy VIII. It was a glimpse of greatness I believe. Because It wasn't just a game that I played, nor was it just a story that I eagerly absorbed. It was the potential of life, embodied all at once in that one scene, coming to the fore in my young mind. It was the thrill of creation through one's imagination, and knowing deep down that to imagine was to be. And it was having that knowing reciprocated by the game, by the story, and by that massive world of pixelated glory.
But what has changed over those years? Just watch a child play, and you shall be assured, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that the magic is still there. Except for some reason we are no longer the full custodians of this secret little world, being allowed only a scheduled visit here and there — fully supervised of course: any 10 year old from the primary school down the road will do. And even though we are the builders of these worlds in the literal sense, they are the true creators in essence, powering it all with their indomitable imagination.
2/14/2016 John Nakhoul