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Why Saving the World Beats Saving the World


REBUTTAL TO: How to Save the World... Without Saving the World

Indeed. There is an incalculable number of people saving the world every day, without "saving the world." A number of this editorial's readers might even be such people. But, while Carmine has a valid point, he seems to be forgetting one of the key elements in the nature of videogames, a cliché that is every bit as oft heard as his complaint: videogames allow for an escape from reality. No, I'm not talking about the "OMG I HATE MY LIFE I WANNA RUN AWAY," sort of escape that you get from half the world's high schoolers these days; I'm talking about the desire to do something a bit grander, something beyond the scope of possibility. Like "saving the world."

One of the things that makes videogames so amazing is their ability to put the player into a scenario they never, not in a hundred-thousand years, would have experienced otherwise. Be it saving everything in existence in 12 different ways, saving the planet from a long-haired and pissed-off genetic abomination, or saving the princess from the demon, videogames open the doors to a billion realms beyond our reach. Perhaps this is why nobody ever sees Carmine's reality heroes.

Gamers don't want to have a worldly scenario thrust upon them; it's simply not entertaining. It's not epic, it's not world ending, and it doesn't give one the same feeling of victory and accomplishment that is derived from "saving the world." Imagine, for a moment, owning a store in which there are only two games. One involves (for lack of a better scenario) a star-traveling hero on a quest to destroy the demon-spawning Clock Tower at the End of the Universe. The other involves a middle-aged man adopting an orphan from Russia. Both have received equally stellar reviews, and both sport the same game play mechanics (assume, ok). Which is more likely to fly off of the shelf? The former. Why? Because it's quite a bit more riveting.

Also consider this face: battle mechanics. While saving the rainforest is an interesting concept, to be sure, it is difficult to imagine a plucky young idealist squaring off against two Bulldozers and a CEO. Perhaps they could cast Picketing3? Jibes aside, such a game is innately difficult to conceive. This is, undoubtedly, another factor in such a title's lack of existence: nobody can think of a way to make it work.

Yes, I understand that I am being considerably close-minded about this, but do not misconstrue what I'm saying, as I am not knocking Carmine's suggestions (actually, were such a game to crop up, I myself would probably buy it just because I enjoy quirky things like that). I am merely pointing out the oft-repeated reasons why such titles will probably never see the light of day: sales would be abominably low, and developers would have a hell of a time figuring out how to work such a situation into a playable game. So, in this case, actually "saving the world" beats just saving the world.

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