Games are increasingly becoming an art form, and art by definition is powerful. There are video games that stay with you, moments that impact on you, feelings they create that simply don't fade the moment the power's switched off.
Grand Theft Auto is the industry's scapegoat. Believe the tabloids and you'll learn how more people have been killed as a result of Rockstar's greatest franchise than in all the recent wars. Mere ownership of the game enables a gun to teleport into your hands, and a rudimentary knowledge of the D-Pad is all you need to learn how to handle it properly. Rockstar Games have done a great service to humanity. By GTA 10 we'll have our overpopulation problems sorted.
Only it's silly, really, isn't it? Arguing that violent video games are somehow perpetuating violence is so unfounded that you might as well argue the same of Tom and Jerry, or The Simpsons. After all, a child unable to differentiate between reality and fiction is no more likely to believe GTA than the strangulation of Bart Simpson. Sure, GTA is more realistic, but we're talking somebody apparently unable to fathom the difference between reality and a video game. If they're going to use that excuse, then throw the book at everything even remotely advocating of violence. It doesn't matter how cartoony or silly it is, if these people cannot tell the difference between polygons on a screen and real life, there is no grey area. I'll go lock up my Warner Bros. cartoons right away, lest a child find them and begin thinking Dark Thoughts involving TNT and fake tunnel cutouts.
This is all clichéd, dull and utterly predictable coming from a gamer like myself, however. What I really came here to talk about was how games can stay with you long after they've been completed and tossed aside. GTA: Vice City probably wasn't my first 'life changing' game (that award goes to Sonic the Hedgehog, in a long winded way), but it remains one of the most important. Had TF2 not devoured my life, Vice City would probably be still up there, the most awesome and important game in my life. It took over my life. My passion for the 1980s was utterly inflamed thanks to this game, and when I wasn't playing it, I was living it. I devoured 1980s music, media, pop culture. A child of the 80s myself, it was always something I remembered fondly, and Vice City gave me that chance to embrace it. It wasn't about killing people, mowing down hookers and stealing their money (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't do that. Often.) It was about the world. It was about Vice City.
Heh, my mum came in as I was typing this, looked at the screenshot above, and said "oh man, that was one of your big games, wasn't it?"
And here's a little secret. I never completed it. Never came close. I never even tried to. I'd dick about with the storyline missions, play some little sidequests, sure, but my hours and hours of game time were spent in the most inane way possible (until Minecraft with its hours of dirt collecting became a testimony to our dedication as timewasters.)
I drove around. I drove along the beach, just waiting for sunrise or sunset, and I listened to the in-game radio stations. Sometimes I'd park the car, crank my television volume up, and turn my PS2 into the world's most convoluted radio. Sometimes I'd do that at night when I was in bed, instead of listening to whatever dull rubbish was playing on the real radio at the time, and fall asleep to the sounds of Lazlow or Fernando Martinez. A child of the 1980s I may well have been, but I cannot hear 'Broken Wings', '(I Just) Died In Your Arms' or 'I Ran' without being teleported back, not to my childhood, but to the streets of Vice City.
Funnily enough, it wasn't the sunny Florida beach setting I loved so much, though there was something absolutely breathtaking about the flare on the screen as the sun set or rose each day. It was the stormy moody weather I loved. Little droplets of rain would trickle down the screen - no other GTA game has captured it so perfectly (and GTA San Andreas' 'rain' effect was in my mind little more than a noise filter). The mist would come off the sea, the thundering clouds would roll across the sky, the rain somehow felt warm and tropical, and there, beside you, were the neon pinks and turquoise blues of an 1980s Miami in all its garish glory. I'm getting teary eyed just thinking about it. People sing the praises of the Final Fantasies and the Zeldas and the Shadows of the Colossi for the beauty of their worlds. To me, nothing was more beautiful in gaming history that that moment. Christ, nearly ten years on and nothing's even come close.
Years later, my friends and I were on a road trip to the world's worst picnic site, and on the way home it started to rain a thick, heavy, Summer rain. We turned down a random lane, and threw on a CD recording of VCPR, one of Vice City's two 'talk' stations. Driving home was one of those moments in life that, like driving those digital streets of Vice City, tend to stick with you through the years. I imagine that, come 2022 which, frighteningly, isn't very far away, I'll still feel that pang of nostalgia and contentment when I turn on the radio and hear '(I Just) Died in Your Arms' belting from the speakers. If I'm really lucky, it'll be late at night, with a sky thick with rain, when I do.
I've decided that 2014 is going to be a great year. It's going to be a year of financial gain, artistic growth and, more importantly, a year of getting off my butt. Figuratively, at least, because most of the things I plan to do are things that largely involve sitting on my butt:
I was secretly very pleased with my little foray into the Youtube scene last month. It's nice to be new to something with the knowledge that you can improve, its actually nice being the newbie with things to learn and techniques to master. I think about two videos a week is a realistic number, and one I'm capable of doing now that the holiday season isn't getting in the way. Any more than two a week would cut into my art time, and as much as I love the Vlogging world, art will always remain my priority.
This is the same resolution I've had every year, but I want to downright art more. I want it to be a basic state of being. I spend so much of my time looking at art online, at artist's techniques or tutorials, reading inspiring quotes and imagining what I want to draw, but I never actually do the drawing part. I've said for the longest time that I'd be a really good artist if I actually drew between drawing, because at the moment I can go days and days without so much as a doodle, and then sit down and just work on one finished piece. This year I'm forcing myself to just draw more. Anything. So far it's been going well, I'm trying to take my sketchbook out with me rather than my tablet. So far, so good!
I also set myself a 'solid', realistic set in stone resolution (something I rarely do, it's best to keep these things a little flexible!) that I would paint more art that could be taken to local craft fairs/art fairs rather than just comic conventions. Watercolour fantasy/cartoon animal pieces, mainly. We'll see how that one progresses!
I used to read so much. I'd devour countless books every year! And then the internet happened and gaming happened and lazy happened and now I'll barely read one. It's awful. So, as a special treat to myself for competing in the Dryathlon (2 weeks and counting!), I bought myself the first Game of Thrones book and Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Again removing my tablet from my daily life, I've started taking books into the bath with me again, and as a result I've almost finished Noughts & Crosses! Now to tackle the Game of Thrones franchise...
(Ye-es, I did used to take my tablet into the bathroom - stop looking at me funny! There's nothing better than a long hot soak armed with bubbles, candles and Netflix.)
And, lastly, fittlingly...
I've had a blog of some kind since 2001, when I got invite-only access to Livejournal. I still love and use Livejournal (and make a point of forwarding all my blogposts here to my old LJ account) but since everything's so quiet over there, I thought I'd take my rambling here, instead.
I still don't know what I want from this blog. I find myself at odds a lot with the blogging world because I'm a girl who loves lifestyle/fashion blogging, but I'm also a complete geek who plays video games all the danged time and who attends conventions in silly clothes and who draws cartoons for a living.
I asked, a while ago, on my Livejournal if people would mind seeing that mix of fashion posts and gaming rants, and the general consensus was to just go for it, scrolling really ain't all that difficult. So, basically, I've decided to just go for it, here, on my personal space. I want this place to be a slice of my life, nerdy and full of art and colour and fun, where I can talk about anything from my latest shopping haul to my anger and rage at League of Legends players.
Which is why I've finally joined Bloglovin', so pleasefollow me there if you'd like. Or RSS me, if you'd rather. I can't promise to always be interesting all of the time, but if you like girlie nonsense, slice of life ramblings, pop culture art, nerdy television, video games or conventions, you'll probably enjoy at least some of the content here, and if I make anyone smile at least once, I know I'll have done something very right indeed!
Hey there! I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and video gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a geek, travel and Disney lifestyle blog dedicated to my nerdy little life! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.