I was going to write about how much I like getting a sense of power in video games, inspired by my acquisition of the game Gravity Rush and part of an article on Cracked (http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-moments-that-make-video-games-worth-it/), but over the course of playing it and re-evaluating my stance, I realized my enjoyment can be diluted down to something much simpler.
I enjoy flying/free-running/jumping around a gamespace like an asshole.
Committing massive acts of unintentional (or intentional) murder through the use of gut-bustingly hilarious powers is fun (thanks, Prototype series). Playing the hero and feeling like a benevolent god that saves lives because he can is cool too (Infamous did me there). These super-hero games that are coming out give me plenty of these kinds of opportunities.
But Gravity Rush showed me that all that stuff doesn’t come together for me unless I have a really fun, easy to use transportation power of some sort. I spent the first ten minutes after the tutorial just hitting the gravity shift button and flying through the air so I could launch myself at another location with all the finesse of a ballerina shot out of a cannon.
Pictured: A perfomance of the Nutcracker.
This need for transportation is part of an escapist fantasy, of course. I hate driving anywhere. I roll around in a POS ’98 Chevy with over 200 thousand miles on it and I’m sure is hatching up a plan as we speak to lose a tire and hurl me into a ditch somewhere in the countryside. And gas? Fuck gas. We all know it’s gotten to the point where buying gas has become a major household expense. But these games get to have me ignore gas, traffic, and all the fun of modern transportation.
If someone asked me what kind of superpower I would like if I could pick one, it wouldn’t be to shoot fire from my mouth or to have bulletproof skin or have hands made of swords (awesome as that would be), it would be to eliminate driving from my life forever. Because really, how often are you going to use sword hands? Really think deeply about it.
Maybe once or twice. More if you own a sushi bar or something.
If I could gravity shift fly everywhere, or grind powerlines, or even parkour/rocket-propelled slashed wrist bloodfly my way around the city, I would use that shit all the time. For no reason. The sense of freedom that people want to emphasize in games really comes down to providing excellent transportation options for the player. Some work, some don’t.
Hell, you don’t even have to have superpowers. Just Cause 2 was a great example of a game with an effectively implemented transportation system. I can count on one hand the amount of times I stepped into a car. I got around almost everywhere (I imagine like most folks) grappling hook and paragliding, like a vacationer good and goddamned determined to not let their new favorite summer activity end because they’re leaving the lake.
No one said escapist fantasies couldn’t also be practical.