Thanks to Kelly from Why We Play Games for the nomination and tag here. Have enjoyed a few of her posts including her look at Stop Motion movies including the more well known Tim Burton production The Corpse Bride. Not afraid to mix genres she’s tackled a number of topics from managing anxiety to movies, games and music, a wide variety of topics presented in her own unique style. I had seen this blogging tag a few times so was curious and intrigued when I got the virtual hand tap to tackle a few questions around gaming and video game culture. I’ve tackled a few of these in the last six months, most recently around gaming when I tackled the Gamer Tag with a list of questions designed to reveal a little more about yourself from A Geek Girls Guide. This set of questions covers an intriguing range of topics and subjects I’ve discussed in some detail over the months and ones that I always enjoy writing about and challenging myself to answer from gaming music and art to more moralistic decisions. So without further delay, let’s get down to business and answer these questions as set by Kelly.
- What is your favorite theme song from a video game?
An interesting one to start with, wrote about some of my favourites last year when I was looking at Video Game Music and some of my top picks as ever could easily turn this into a love letter to many of Bioware’s scores and central themes from the epic Mass Effect central riff to the variations of the Dragon Age theme that occurs throughout the series. I would probably have to go with a classic, for me anyway, and a theme song that had an impact of me in my youth, the main theme from Baldur’s Gate 2. There is a great deal of pomp and flair in the opening bars of the main theme as the menu screen appears before giving away to a more subdued and personal tune that returns and plays throughout the game. I remember being dubious of my decisions to invest in this game when those opening bars played before the transition into the more melancholic theme, that’s when I realised I had found a pretty special gaming world to invest my time in and that opening theme song, my personal favourite to this day.
- What is your favorite video game soundtrack
A slightly more challenging one as honestly, I don’t think there have been that many great video game soundtracks, certainly if your main experience are games released from Western Studios that have only recently started to invest money and honestly, effort into producing memorable scores similar to the output from movie studios. Not the experience from Asian studios of course but as a big fan of movie soundtracks, I’ve never really bonded with a game soundtrack. I have some exceptions of course and would probably continue my Bioware love with one more album from their vast selection, the soundtrack to the first Mass Effect game. With the powerful main theme that permeates throughout the score, each track utilised in the various alien levels and environments has a distinctive sound, some of more mixed quality or impact but certainly following a traditional three arc structure, the opening tracks used with the emergence and growth of the main character. The middle arc with the various alien terrain before the last few tracks and the bombastic conclusion of the game and soundtrack. Its one of the few gaming soundtracks I have listened to and own that works to tell the narrative of the story in the absence of graphics or visuals in a very visceral way, definitely my favourite soundtrack.
- What is your favorite video game genre?
If I had to give a single answer to this and I guess continuing my answer from above, it would probably be the 4X D & D style games or more broadly those using a isometric presentation style. I love the level of detail in these style of games, from the definitive, in my opinion, release of Baldur’s Gate 2 and the various titles release by Bioware of that period of time to their resurgence in the current generation with games such as Pillar’s of Eternity, very much a spiritual successor to BG2 to more nuanced variations such as the XCom series of games. Whether it’s the overview aspect or just having that freedom to pull back from the battlefield and the heat of the combat to have a more objective dispassionate view, I love these various style of games. With PoE and BG2, the level of detail both in the design, the worlds, the visuals, art and music were stunning to see, because they weren’t pushing the envelope on the graphical edge they could pursue quality over evolution of the process and as such they still stand as viable and quality titles today.
- What is your favorite place in a video game?
Having spent a great part of the last year exploring the various open worlds of the current studios they’ve all been visually impressive and memorable to various degrees but as the immediate impact has faded away, none of them have really left a lasting impression. I had thought to say the town of Arcadia Bay as featured in Life is Strange and its prequel title though instead I’ll opt for a more culturally personal and relevant title for me and opt for the small town of Oakfield in the Fable 2. Not a huge or distinctive area, indeed chances are even if you have played this game you may have passed through the area fairly swiftly but for me it was just the tranquil nature of the area as you crossed the fields and through the forests and emerge to the beautiful score as it plays with the setting sun before you. The buildings are very reminiscent of old English architecture, indeed the entire game almost feels like an homage to a more innocent and simple period of time in this country of mine. Stopping at the Sandgoose for a drink of ale as you explore the world around you was such a charming and sedate moment, I haven’t been back to the title in a while, trying to preserve the memory of the occasion but I do hold this area and place in great fondness.
- What is your least favorite place in a video game?
Probably the Deep Roads, the Dwarven mines and ruins as featured across the various Dragon Age games. From the earliest game and it’s sequel, there was just something so depressing about slogging your way through this area, never really a choice you could make just a really, turgid, dull trek through a fairly unremarkable repetitive environment. Mines, I’d imagine don’t exactly scream excitement in reality but for me when I first entered the Deep Roads I had illusions of a Fellowship of the Rings montage, bombastic music playing whist my characters fought the various dangers around them. Instead, it felt very much like an exercise in attrition as you persevered through the area just hoping the next area would be the last and you emerged back on the surface. With its sequel, when you reach the transition levels between ages and you find yourself back there again I was genuinely frustrated at having to play that same environment again. Imagine my delight when Inquisition forgoed the Deep Roads with the exception of a DLC package and allowed you to remain largely on the surface for nearly the entirety of the game. Certainly there are moments such as your trip into the fade however for the most part it avoids the worst parts of the earlier experiences in the Deep Roads.
- What video game did you find visually stunning such as the landscapes or the art style?
An easy one, some of my most memorable experiences in recent months have been exploring the ‘experience’ titles, the shorter more impactful games such as Journey and Old Man’s Journey but easily the one game that really had a huge impact on me that still lingers was the game Firewatch. Set in a fictional American National Park the game world in its design and execution looks stunning, you can stop really at any point, set your controller down and just stare in amazement at the graphical presentation. It doesn’t opt for a realistic take and perspective in contrast to games such as Far Cry 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2. Instead a more artistic style and design, visually it looks amazing. The use of colours and tones captures almost perfectly the environment around you, the autumnal ‘feel’ of the forest as you explore and attempt to unravel the mystery you find yourself in. I can’t recommend this title more highly, it looks beautiful and leaves a very memorable impression on the user.
- What video game food would you like to try?
This question stumped me for a while, couldn’t honestly remember a time when food has played a huge part in my gaming experience which is a little odd having spent many hours in open world games where you’d presume they’d play some form of critical juncture. Instead I’m going to go with a very early memory of when there was a positive association benefit and opt for the roast chickens in Final Fight. Like Streets of Rage, food serves as a pick up item in these titles that restores your health to various degrees, the roast chicken being one of the more powerful health items that restores your health bar entirely. Of course it’s not exotic or an imaginative item but it was always the beneficial nature of the large roast chicken when you were actively fighting for your life against the waves of enemies, preferably with a friend at your back. And just when the odds were turning against you and all things looked bleak, you knocked over a barrel or crate and there sitting on the floor was a delicious looking golden roast chicken, delicious.
- What is your favorite video game series?
I’m not sure whether its an official genre series but certainly would combine a few games into this category and say ‘third person action adventure’ games which I’ll concede does cover a wide variety of games and franchises. Everything from Resident Evil 4 & 5, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Fall Out and Skyrim and the various iterations of the Ubisoft open world universe from The Division, Assassins Creed to Far Cry games. Whilst they use different mechanics and play styles in different genres and series they broadly come under the auspice of a third person view allowing you freedom to see both your characters and world around you without feeling like you are a floating head. One of my entirely subjective hates in video games are games where you play from a first person perspective and look down and can’t see your feet. It infuriates me, why can’t you see your feet?!!! Thankfully my obsession is tempered somewhat with the third person views which allow you to see all aspects of your character. So yup, as a video game series the third person perspective action adventure game.
- What fictional game character would you like to hang out with?
My friend, my partner in crime, a man obsessed with cleaning his gun and checking his systems, an easy choice, the one and only Garrus from the Mass Effect series. From the moment you come across the Turian investigator in C-Sec on Earth, throughout your campaign he becomes a stalwart member of your team, always the first into battle, a surrogate commander and leader in your absence during the infamous suicide mission. When you first come across him in Mass Effect 2 and you see the downward trajectory of his life having lived without the moral compass of his friend there is a certain empathy to this fictional character. You want to inevitably associate yourself with people of good and righteous character, there may be more colourful and entertaining people in the gaming world but he always seemed like a friend that had your back and would make sure you got home safely. If I could bring one fictional character into the world to hang out with it would have to be Garrus.
- What deceased video game character would you bring back to life?
I feel today most characters deaths are largely instrumental or come across as little more than plot mechanics to further the narrative. In truth, largely if not entirely that is always the case as the motivation of loss and grief can have a profound impact on your character and by default user. I’m usually content to allow the narrative to play out if a character’s death is warranted, but one ‘person’ in the loosest sense I would bring back to life would be the Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time. I’ll accept massively his passing has a massive motivational impact on Link and largely the end credits would suggest it has seeded again but I did miss the wise and sage advice of the Deku Tree, finding it sad that despite vanquishing the beast that lived within the mighty tree ultimately your efforts were in vain and you are forced to watch the tree die before you, a really harrowing and emotionally grounding death and scene in the game. If I could add a second character for the same game it would be the wounded dying soldier in the alleys of the market as you go to retrieve the Master Sword. I always found it a little sad you never really found out more about this character besides a seeming loyalty and dedication to duty and that he died in an alley with a stab wound. I bet he would have had an interesting tale to tell.
- What abandoned video game series would you like to see come back?
A very easy question to answer up until a month ago, Baldur’s Gate! Thankfully, the series is due to return so have to think of another answer. With most games spawning at least a sequel of some sorts generally speaking can’t think of any series that’s finished I’d want to see return or continue. I’ve enjoyed some one off games that didn’t receive huge critical acclaim I’d like to experience more such as Birth of The Federation. Actually I’ll go for that as my answer, mixing the stylistic approach of Civilization and of course the Star Trek franchise there was a great deal to like about this game and it felt and played like a solid tactical game to explore and enjoy. Sadly it didn’t sell as well as expected and with the bizarre mess of the Star Trek rights split over multiple studios I’m not optimistic of ever continuing my exploration of the galaxy. Anyway, if all the elements were in place and I could stoke the fires of interest I would definitely love to see this game return again in some form of another.
So those are my answers and an interesting range of questions from Kelly at Why We Play Games. I thought I would come up with come up with 12 questions of my own and tag a few of my fellow bloggers in to gauge their perspective and views on the topics. Looking forward to carrying this on:
- Which non gaming franchise or series would make for a great game?
- What’s your favourite gaming mode of transport?
- Three gaming characters you would invite to a dinner party and why?
- Which level or open world would you live in given the choice?
- Which video game villain would you try to redeem?
- Should artistic integrity persevere over moralistic censorship?
- What was your gaming first love?
- Do you prefer quality or quantity in your gaming purchase habits?
- Most interesting non game gaming merchandise item?
- Which title would you use to showcase gaming as a genre to a non gaming enthusiast?
So if you would like, curious to hear your answers and your perspectives, I’ll nominate:
- Geek Mama – A really enjoyable Toy Story review recently
- The Backlog Crusader – Always love your writing and unique take on things
- Quietschisto – Inspiring me to play Splinter Cell again! Love the Clancey reviews
- The Gaming Diaries – Always enjoy the writing and the contributions and comments
- One Nerd – For the positive smiley faced emoji alone, very positive person to read.
- Nerd Side of Life – Fan fiction writing kick ass blogger
- Bar Harukiya – Always enjoy those detailed reviews, some great reads.
As ever, no obligation to answer or follow through. I think you’ve all done some excellent writing and enjoy being part of a blogging gaming, geek community. If you do, an assortment of questions for you to ponder.