I love video games. I love how they make me feel any and all sorts of emotions—wonder, confusion, regret, triumph, anger, joy, whatever. I love how they let me take a look at the imaginations of fellow human beings, how they provide a gateway for us to share our interpretations of our experiences. I love how they're often just plain fun. I love reading about them, writing about them, and thinking about them. I can think of no better statement with which to being this column: I love video games.
But I don't think I'm in love with them. There's a difference there: I "love" video games in the sense that I'm deeply infatuated with them. I have a strong interest in gaming which largely pleases me. If I were "in love" with video games, though, I'd have a sort of uncontrollable, involuntary attraction to them. I'd have to do anything for them. I'd think they could do anything for me.
"In love" is like a mental prison in a way. It's like a confined dream world, and with the right person or thing that can be wonderful. But sometimes it can be a bit unhealthy.
So when Peter Moore, then working with Microsoft, addressed audiences at E3 2005 and sang the praises of the soon-to-come Xbox 360, it seemed like we were all witnessing what it would sound like to actually be in love with the idea of future video games.
That's because, when he took the stage to talk about some of the games that would "redefine fun" on the Xbox 360, Moore said the following: "Next generation games will combine unprecedented audio and visual experiences to create worlds that are beyond real and they'll deliver storylines and gameplay so compelling that it will feel like living a lucid dream. The result is a state where you achieve the perfect mind-body equilibrium as you forget your physical surroundings and you become completely immersed in the game itself; this controller becomes an extension of your body — it becomes the gateway to the Zen of gaming."
He then went on present Lost Odyssey, a role-playing game that was released to generally solid reviews and sales figures almost three years later.
I understand where Moore was coming from when he waxed hyperbolic like this. He's a company man — he was a higher-up at Microsoft just like he was before at SEGA, and just as he is today at Electronic Arts. People just don't do that without being good at their jobs. And, at the time, Microsoft would've been foolish not to get 110 percent behind their new console the way Moore did here.
The Xbox 360 was the first console release of this generation, after all, and as with every mention of new hardware in this industry, people were very, very excited to hear anything they could about it. Just look at the recent Ouya craze today if you think we've completely gotten past the pure power of hype, of making you believe you can fall in love with what's to come in the gaming world. Excitement is a perfectly normal emotion to feel in these times.
But it's the level of that excitement that's a little more troubling. The extent to which people are being made to believe that video games can and even should bring about a complete detachment from one's body, as Moore proudly proclaimed in 2005, is, frankly, odd.