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Games No Match For Music? Pfft.

February 28, 2008

I was bored earlier this afternoon and decided to google the words “video games” through the Google blog search engine. I came across an article by an MTV columnist. Titled, “Are Video Games More Important than Music?”, writer James Montgomery compares the two mediums all the way from sales to how they impact our culture. After all his rambling he finally concludes that music will always be more important than games. Here’s why:

“So, are video games more important than albums? Well, both the factual and the emotional seem to be saying yes, but when have I ever listened to either of them? I’m going to say no, if only for one simple reason: I have never heard anyone say that a video game saved their life.

There is an emotional attachment with music. It becomes your friend. It helps you through tough times. It is, for all intents and purposes, the soundtrack to your life, the thing that’s with you at every moment of every day. A good album stays with you for a week, a month, maybe even a year. A great album stays with you forever. I cannot think that any of these things are true of a video game, which, by its very nature, is basically created to be disposable. You play for a while, you vanquish some foes, you emerge victorious, and then you move on to the next one. There is no emotional attachment to speak of. Even the best games aren’t going to stay with you for life — for example, I swear by “Tecmo Super Bowl.” I also swear by Radiohead’s OK Computer. But guess which one I reach for at least once a month?”

Now, from the start the guy claims to know squat about games and that’s honestly where his article should have ended. To know so much about music and so little about games, and then to compare the two is downright unfair. So in the defense of video games and all their glory, here is my rebuttal.

Video games, through script, music and graphics, have the power to create everything music can. It’s an assault on your senses – visuals of tragedy, the sound of destruction and a depressing soundtrack, and perhaps the slight rumble of impact trembling your fingertips can have an emotional effect. Gaming is not a passive medium; it becomes an experience. As music would be nothing without instruments and lyrics, games are nothing without a storyline and gameplay. The storyline will set the stage for the performance and the gameplay dictates how you will act in it. And just as we have our greatest artists in the music industry, we have icons in the games industry whose faces and voices are known worldwide.

So many games out there allow the player to feel emotionally connected because of immersing environments, stories, and characters. Some of the best ones have characters you bond with over the course of a series, because we know that a lot of great games don’t just stop at one release. And what are the greatest stories without a little tragedy: imagine witnessing the death of an ally with his daughter crying and screaming beside you, the execution of your girlfriend by the hands of your uncle, or a love you thought you would have forever simply vanishing before your eyes. Of course, music speaks to us and remains with us over our lives because we connect it with certain memories. But video games have the power to make us relive memories, or experience situations we never will in reality.

So many music artists have become household names, and whether it’s because they make good music or shave their heads out of nowhere doesn’t really matter. The point is they managed to touch millions of lives. Video game icons have managed to do the same, becoming the heroes of the companies their associated with – like Mario with Nintendo, Master Chief with Microsoft, and well, Sony is just all over the place. These icons are symbols for so much – they represent a time in our youth when we gamed with little plastic controllers, or saved humanity from an alien onslaught. We became heroes ourselves, even if for a moment, and even if all we got for it was a little pop-up worth 100 points we can’t use in the real world. But these experiences matter to us because we worked so hard to create them.

Video games and music shouldn’t be compared at all. They’re different and they have their advantages over each other.

So while I can’t say that a video game ever saved my life, I can say this – I never got an achievement for listening to a song and liking it.

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One comment

  1. I agree with you. The two shouldn’t be compared, they aren’t within the same category. He isn’t a gamer, and doesn’t have the same appreciation for gaming as many of us do, if he were, he would have been attached to some type of game that he could come back to. As for us, we can fully appreciate both. I’ve played the same game for the last few years, and had some albums stay with me just as long.

    Just like you, gaming has saved my life.



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