I’ve always loved playing. When I was a kid my favourite playground game was Girls vs Boys, an elaborate game of It where if you got caught, you had to sit on the other team’s base (usually a bench) until a plucky teammate got through the defences and rescued you. I was on the boys’ team.
When it was raining, the class would stay inside and I would play with plastic geometric shapes with hinges so you could snap them together and make 3D structures. I spent my lunchtimes trying to make a football out of blue hexagons. It was a process of trial and error, but eventually I was quick enough at the start to almost finish – until a classmate smashed it with their foot. Not the happiest day for a nine-year-old who just wanted to make a football.
Over time, this progressed to video games. Hours spent at my neighbour’s playing Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 and Pokémon Sapphire on the Gameboy Advance pretty much set me up as a gamer for life, although it was Theme Hospital, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and a delightfully gory game called Heart of Darkness which solidified my love for the PC, my preferred gaming platform. I have always enjoyed my own company and there wasn’t anything I’d like to do rather than come home after school, go to my room and make a new family in The Sims. I loved creating characters, building them a home and keeping them happy. And then getting bored (no aging mechanic in The Sims), setting fire to the kitchen and starting over.
In my teens, I developed mental health problems. Gaming, then, turned from being a fun activity to something I would do to escape reality. When The Sims 2 was released I spent hours and hours creating characters and homes like before, but now I could give them stories and a fantasy life, free from the depression I was experiencing. If I were to name the defining game of my teenage years it would absolutely be The Sims 2.
And then, when I was seventeen, a friend lent me a copy of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Finally I could totally immerse myself in a fantasy world that bore no relation to the one I was living in. I fell in love with the lore, the landscape, the towns, cities, monsters, characters, and Jeremy Soule’s incredible score which still sends tingles of nostalgia through me. The range of races and the history behind each one fascinated me, and I relished creating my own character and putting a little bit of myself into them. I developed an affinity with certain characters and hated others, I tried to keep my character’s decisions as consistent as possible to build up a personality for them. Being able to go anywhere and completely ignore the main quest if I wanted was a big win for me. In total, I reckon I’ve spent anywhere from 500 to 1000+ hours playing Oblivion. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released not long after that and my love of RPGs only increased.
I love video games. I love everything about them. I love multiplayer and solo games. I love puzzle games and adventure games, rhythm games, open world games, first person shooters, simulation games. A friend of mine has got me into World of Warships and I’m going to London with some friends to see the HMS Belfast, and might go to Poland in the summer to see the ORP Błyskawica. Video games can affect us in many different ways, such as highlighting human behaviour and asking questions about society and how we live our lives. Other games have such impressive artwork that you have to stop and look for a while. I think, though, the main thing about games is that they are fun and entertaining, and personally I couldn’t do without them. That’s why I’ve started this blog – I game purely for fun and I’d like to turn my hobby into something worthwhile. I intend to write reviews of new and older games with a little bit of a personal kick, as every gamer will experience a game differently. I personally like to connect with characters and I like a game that leaves me thinking, so I’d also like to do some analysis of games. And, as I’m a musician and musicologist, I’d also like to have a look at some of the most iconic video game scores and see what makes them so special. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this piece.
– Phoebe Wright