And sometimes they are, which is one of the bigger reasons I play them. But I’m a sick, evil man.
However the general consensus is that video games are something like interactive movies, which is a fair assessment. However, I’d also put forth that they’re like a book. See, most movies tend to be kind of shallow. It’s not a reflection on the movies themselves, indeed some movies are very deep with symbolism and plot. But for the most part, there’s only so much you can do with a movie because there’s only so much story you can tell in one and a half to two hours.
Many modern video games, like books, last for hours. They’re not over in two hours and even if you sat and played one for two hours, you’d probably only get a quarter of the way into the story. Because of the sheer length a video game has available to it, they can tell a better story. And, in strange twists of fate, books can inspire video games which can inspire books.
Here’s a story. A group of people venture to a strange world and wind up crashing upon it. It’s not a planet orbiting a distant star. No, this world is shaped like a ring; a massive ring orbiting a star.
Video game enthusiasts will say I’ve just described the wildly popular game Halo. Meanwhile sci-fi fans know that story as Ringworld by Larry Niven. Halo is undoubtedly inspired by Ringworld, heck the stories share so many similarities I’m surprised Niven didn’t sue. Or maybe he got a cut, who knows?
Halo has stretched into three games and a couple of spin offs. It’s inspired novels based upon the game. And now, it’s got its own encyclopedia.
When a video game reaches a depth that an encyclopedia may be helpful, you know you’ve gone beyond the bounds of a movie. You’ve reached a level where there are a myriad of characters, plot points, twists, decisions, technology, ideas, and settings. In other words, you’ve hit a point where the game is the story and the story is the game, each is the point of the other.
Sounds an awful lot like a book to me. It’s yet another reason I think video games have a place in any library collection.