Games have power. This story hits on why I want to make games in the first place, as a natural extension of my initial desire to work in movies.
Interestingly, I like the Valkyrie Profile games for much the same reason; they tell interesting stories that have a way of digging into the heart and soul of the human condition through abstraction.
It’s also why I’m increasingly tired of MMOs, with their bland, lowest common denominator, static design. They are indeed fun playgrounds, but I’m ready for something more satisfying. I see MMOs as interesting commercial products, great places to try out some interesting design, but when it comes right down to it, it’s the single player, heavy story-driven RPG that will always be my home as a player, and as a designer. I enjoy making a fun mental exercise like Alpha Hex, I enjoy zoning out for a bit bashing monsters in something like Fate, and I enjoy tactical games ranging from StarCraft to MechCommander to FFT. I enjoy designing such games because people have fun with them and I like to help people smile.
But this, the power to help people learn, laugh and heal… that’s what I’d ultimately like to employ my skills in. That‘s what games can offer, and the interactivity can make it all the more powerful. That’s what I aspire to, wielding the medium as a force to build and heal, rather than exploring destruction in intricate detail.
Of course, VC has its share of explosions and destruction. So does real life. The key is that the game wants to tell a story of hope and healing in the face of those inevitable hard times. Far too often, games just focus on the mechanics of destruction, and the bleak depression that some people think is the only way to actually feel anything.
In other words, games are in their emo phase. I’m looking forward to the day when the industry matures and understands that the ESRB definition of “Mature” is what a pubescent depressed loner thinks life is all about, and that really being mature and growing up is something entirely different. Valkyria Chronicles is a step in the right direction, and I hope we can get more games like this made, and made well so that they aren’t dismissed by angry people who never really grew up.