Entertainment comes in numerous forms. Everyday we read books, watch movies, play video games, listen to music, and play or watch sports. We look towards entertainment and hobbies to enjoy ourselves and have some sort of escapism from the arduous task that is life. Some people have a passion a few of these forms of entertainment, while others dabble with them all. While it is impossible to state that one of these pastimes is definitively the best, there is certainly one that encompasses the rest.
Video games are a very exceptional form of entertainment. While there are plenty of mind-numbingly simple and mundane games in the Google Play and Apple App Store, there is also an incredible amount of games that take the best bits from all forms of entertainment, and combine them into one masterpiece.
Video games often act as some sort of “greatest hits” of their entertainment siblings (e.g. cinema and novels). Let’s take a look at a game like The Last of Us. This game is highly regarded by almost every person in the gaming community. From the outside, it may be hard to understand the appeal and magnificence that lies within this game. It may just seem like your typical over the top and cliché zombie story. However, it is near impossible to deny its brilliance after playing it for a short period of time. It perfectly captures the excitement and drama of top quality films, while retaining the superb detail and character progression that is found in novels. Even musically, the Last of Us does not fall short. With the score recently coming out on vinyl, you can experience what is truly an engaging and emotional soundtrack.
The most evident hobby in my family is the enjoyment of sports. They enjoy the intense live action and competition that sports provide, and even participated in such events when they were younger. The Last of Us also brings this to the table. Alongside the superb single-player campaign is the exceptional multiplayer mode. It takes the most intense bits of the single-player campaign and mashes them into a competitive setting that makes every single round feel exhilarating and frightening. While I may not be the biggest sports fan, I imagine this is how my brother and father feel when they watch the Patriots and Red Sox play in the playoffs. Competition is an incredibly healthy part of the human psyche. We strive to improve ourselves, defeat others, and become the best. The beauty of video game competition is that it is always a possible hobby. Sports can be a fantastic hobby, but the sad truth is that it’s not something we can do forever. Plenty of people love to play football, but there comes a time where you must hang up your jersey and retire before you cause some serious damage to yourself. Thankfully, video games aren’t quite as serious. Competitive gaming is something that is accessible to almost every single person, whether they are a professional or a complete beginner. Whether you are a misbehaved six-year-old, an incredibly “hip” eighty-seven-year-old, or a skilled twenty-year-old, Xbox Live and PSN are always open to new and adept competition.
Finally, it is important that I address the most essential part of video games. The interactivity of this pastime is the base and most crucial part of the experience. This is the area where video games truly excel and surpass any other form of entertainment. Music, cinema, and novels can compel us to think and see in new ways, but none of them can truly give us the freedom and choices that video games do.
With all of these aspects combined, it is clear that modern video games are truly an art form (when done right), that deserve as much respect as the next Hollywood blockbuster (if not more). While the Last of Us may be a perfect example for these claims, there are countless other games that provide the same kind of content. Thanks to the increasing popularity of speedrunning, even single-player games have the aspired completive edge. Video games are certainly not the definitive and proven “best” form of entertainment, but I dare you to argue that they are not the most diverse and well-versed pastime that we have today.