Sit down, grab a pen, and draw me a bicycle. Go ahead, I’ll wait—this is a written article after all. Done? How’d it turn out? Alright, you probably didn’t actually draw a bicycle, but if you did, it probably looks something like this:
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I am not an angry man. In fact, I consider myself to be quite level-headed. Even so, I think Overwatch is giving me anger issues.
I’ve been getting very hostile while playing Overwatch, Blizzard’s latest action-shooter game, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. So I verbally assault my teammates? No. Do I swear like a drunk sailor in chat and curse the gods who put four Hanzos on my team when playing against two Tracers, two Genjis, and two Winstons? Absolutely. What were they thinking? Seriously.
I’m about level 40, and I just beat High Lord Wolnir. And by “beat”, I mean watch two sun bros slash the boss to death. I actually sat down and admired the cunning of my fellow players—from afar of course. To my credit, I did cheer for them when the Dark Souls III skeleton boss was finally vanquished, pulled to his dark grave. My phantom allies must have known what they were getting into the moment that they saw my dual-shield wielding hero. After all, his name is Pacifist Pete.
Now, I did complete Dark Souls III like a normal person first. But when the last lord finally sat his throne, instead of going into New Game Plus, I opted instead to roleplay my way through the game as a pacifist. Save for the single boss that you must kill in order to progress, I promised myself that I would wield no sword and intentionally kill no enemy—at least by my own hands. I would be a pacifist, the peacenik of Lothric. As a result, I hoped that I would appreciate the game in a new way.
My weapon was buffed, balls of energy were swirling around my head, and all my rings were in order. I was ready. My goal: to kill the host of embers in Anor Lando. I was invading in Dark Souls III.
While searching for my victim, I was joined by another ally, an Aldrich Faithful. We bowed and continued on toward the area just outside of the bonfire, where an open courtyard acts as the chosen battleground for PVP duels. There we found the host and their gold-tinged guardian, another player coming to their aid.
I recently had the incredibly privilege of visiting Japan, a place I’ve been wanting to visit since Big Bird went to Japan in his 1989 Sesame Street special. Besides bringing back an amazing roll of Yokai Watch toilet paper, I also returned with a renewed appreciation for the “Japanese-ness” of some games. Walking around parts of Tokyo felt strangely familiar, in large part due to numerous anime and video games that make their way to the West.
In Tokyo, I had a special appreciation for the little cultural quirks that I might have seen before in something like, say, the Persona series. There is a sort of pleasurable recognition in seeing high school students in big club groups, for example. I even enjoyed the way that power lines in some residential areas seemed familiar. Visiting Japan was a confirmation that the experiences that I’ve had in games have—at least to some extent—created a real sense of place within a culturally defined space.