Video games have always fascinated me as a medium of storytelling. Though I remain a literary storyteller at heart, my imagination’s always been drawn to the interactive nature of how the consumer has an active hand in pushing the story forward in a game. There is excitement in having some, even if limited, control in just what happens during the progression of a story- even if I’m not the creator of it. Even if the characters are led into an unwanted ending as a result of my actions. There’s an inherent interest in being able to make a story just a little different, because I was a part of it.
As far back as I can remember, video games and interactive experiences have been an interest of not just me, but my older brother and sister. Though there was plenty squabbling and rivalry between us all- video game-related and otherwise- it became the main thing that bonded us. Many Christmases were spent in excitement over a new console or game that our parents got us. Many days- more than our parents would ever be pleased about- we’d all inch over to the family computer to go to online websites and play simulators and explore different fantasy worlds to our hearts’ non-existent content. Video games binded us as a trio, one of the few things that really could as we grew up through the years- but it wasn’t until recently that I thought of how deep that bind ran.
Earlier this May, the game The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom finally released for the Nintendo Switch console- years after its prequel first came out in 2017. My brother bought it when he got home from college, and since my sister and I were also home, we had a similar enthusiasm at the prospect of getting to see it too. We watched him hook up the switch to a TV screen, making the game fully visible for us all. As he began playing in our childhood home for the first time in months, the excitement of video games returned to us collectively- from the thrill of besting fictional enemies, to amusement at completing quests in the most ineffective ways possible. Every other evening, throughout the summer, we pile up in the TV room after dinner to watch our brother play.
‘Watch’ may be a stretch, though the story and major battles have us all intrigued to different degrees. I can only look at so many attempts of reaching a treasure chest or upgrading armor before my own mind starts to wander, after all. And, unlike our younger selves, we’ve all got too many responsibilities of young adulthood to be able to play all day. Despite that, though, we congregate there anyway, getting in our laughs and awes of the game together. It’s no different from how our past few summers have operated, regardless of if there’s a large new game to be surprised by or not. We’ve molded so much of our relationship around video games. Even if no one’s playing anything, we’ll continuously send each other funny videos or screenshots of shenanigans we’ve seen in games, or chime in with references that make each other smile for a brief second at dinner.
It’s not always been easy to stay updated with my brother and sister since we started leaving one by one for college and jobs, and returning at varying times to our hometown. Our passions and personalities have also kept us from getting too close, as we seem continuously moving in different directions in life. But it makes me all the more content, to know that we can still be happy over these shared pleasures of the adventures and mayhem of playable, fictional characters. We can still snicker at old screenshots of funny angles, and recall embarrassing game overs to each other’s mild detriment. Because, in the end, siblings are a mild detriment. But they’re also a source of exchanged looks and inside jokes. Decision-making and decision-questioning. Unconditional love and unabashed insults. And, for all our parents once scolded us for being ‘addicted’ to them, I’m content with knowing that every time we play more games together.