I’ve always been fascinated with stories. I have fond memories of Huckleberry Finn and Dr. Seuss books as a kid. They got me hooked. I was an introvert. I had a huge imagination, a sense of adventure but we often lived in tough neighborhoods. Hell, in the late 80’s when the crack epidemic started and the neighborhoods began to change I barely went outside. We moved a lot so I struggled with getting comfortable. We had a big family and I was the middle child, too young for my older brother and sister and too old for my younger sisters. Ergo, getting lost in stories was not only easy – it was necessary.
I graduated from Huck Finn to Choose Your Own Adventure Books. When they stopped printing them, I moved on to Stephen King and Roger Zelanzy. I spent weekend days in narrow comic shops and at night my uncle and I were at the movie theater. As I said, I spent a lot of time at home, so I was always in front of the television watching old movies and classic tv shows like Miami Vice, Knight Rider and black sitcoms from Sanford and Son to In Living Color.
Narrative was my thing. I’ve always been fascinated with how a good story can place you into another world. It can force you to empathize with something or someone that you never would otherwise. It can teach you things, not like a lecture from a classroom teacher but in a way that entertained you and made you feel engaged.
And then, I discovered video games.
I was in college working in a video store in the middle of a college town. During Christmas vacation, everybody went home but I stayed and kept the store open for the locals and folks like me who couldn’t go home for one reason or another (my first paragraph should be enough of an explanation why). I heard about a game machine called a PlayStation so I decided to rent one and a few games at a local Blockbuster. I rented Resident Evil and Final Fantasy 7. The next Christmas break, I rented another PlayStation and a game called Metal Gear Solid. Soon after, I wrote up a proposal to the owner of the store that he should get into the video game business, now! My reason: video games were going to be the movies of the 21st century.
You can check out The Influence of Video Games on Narrative, Part 2 here.