Rounding out the essays summarizing my experiences with media throughout 2020, this would be the year where I figured out my relationship with videogames. Videogames don’t exactly help me write fiction, so for years, I considered them a sort of nice distraction but nothing overly valuable. Through my continued health problems, I’ve found some solace in playing videogames, watching them, and when/if I should fully recover my health, I want to livestream videogame plays more often.
Now that I’ve played through the freely available Jill of the Jungle trilogy – a game I remember seeing, longingly, in childhood without being able to play because of, perhaps, timing – was it worth revisiting the past? Some meandries through the first game have been sufficient to itch the nostalgia scratch, although from a completionist’s perspective, leaving the others unplayed would have left me yearning for more. It was worth visiting, but revisiting? Probably not.
My first memory of narrative design is from some ZZT game. It was probably done in myriad other games and media, but there I was in the early 90s as an innocent kid playing games for fun, accidentally learning about narrative structures like callbacks and returns. When I interact with media now, it’s for exploring culturally-significant [or insignificant] titles, learning narrative structure, or casual, sometimes inattentive meandries, through media until I finish or drop them.
Although I can conduct my way through overly technical playthroughs of platformers and other games, they don’t bring me much joy. Depending on the game and the level, you might have to jump through arbitrary hoops to reach pedantic goals, then, return back through the level you traversed in the name of gameplay. I’m fine with some of this. Too much of it, however, becomes tedious, and those are the times when I stop playing.
I like the idea of exploring everything and everywhere I can. There will be some experiences I cannot have, but the more experiences, even if incomplete or partially-understood, can help explain the contexts of other experiences. For games like Jill of the Jungle, they show a sort of discipline for acquiring a new skill then returning back to practice that skill out in a new area, whether it’s platforming or clearing out your writing backlog…