RPG IN SIX PARTS | Joyce Chong
⇒I was always terrible at video games. Well, I was good at Duck Hunt, but that’s because I would crawl right up to the TV screen and literally touch the blue plastic pistol to the glass, so that I wasn’t so much aiming at the flying ducks as I was tamping them out. Apparently, I confused Duck Hunt with Whack-a-Mole. Many system generations later, all the popular video games were in 3-D, and that depth and navigational freedom apparently took away my interest in video games–maybe it was too much like real life, less of an escape. Or, maybe this was because I lacked the spacial awareness to perform well in 3-D games. I’m a shitty parallel parker, too.
Either way, I suck at video games. I don’t particularly enjoy them, either, with the possible exception of Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat, which I enjoy for their instances of whimsical shell throwing and ripping off opponents’ heads, respectively.
While I’m not very good at video games, I can appreciate stories about video games, which brings me to this great piece in Cartridge Lit–which, as you might have gathered, is a lit journal focused on writing that explores the world of video games. Pretty damn cool. After all, video games are a vital and constantly evolving part of our culture and modern media. Video games say a lot about who we are and what interests us (shooting each other, mostly), and the form deserves a body of literature that explores this subject.
Joyce Chong’s “RPG in Six Parts” does exactly that. The cool little story focuses particularly on the RPG, which one might argue is the most sophisticated genre in the video game world, at least from a narrative or world-building standpoint. The story places the reader in the position of an RPG hero via the 2nd person (2nd person seems to be a common mode for video game lit, perhaps due to our tendency to conflate the player and the character when we talk about video games). What’s really interesting about this smooth, well-structured piece is how it takes the condition of being a video game character and explores its implications: to wit: How would one experience being forced into a heroic situation? Are characters’ “fated” to win the game? Is regeneration/immortality a blessing or a curse? And, is there such a thing as freedom or choice in the closed system of a video game environment?
The piece is a cool meditation on reality, humanity, and the notion of freedom. There’s a lot that literature can explore in video games, and this amazing piece starts the conversation nicely. I look forward to seeing more from Joyce Chong and the Cartridge Lit team.