The Sandbox Reborn

16 Jul 2015

Patrick Lindsey for Paste Magazine:

Life, too, is a sandbox. The world is filled with an infinite number of opportunities and setbacks, all swirling around in the quantum chaos that is our daily life. This is perhaps the most valuable lesson I’ve extracted from my time with the game—failure is okay. Inevitable, even. The important thing is that you pick up your crown, dust yourself off and live to rule another day.

The way that I interact with video games has always been difficult for outsiders – that is, outsiders to video games – to appreciate. There is a degree to which this is my fault, as I am not particularly emphatic when explaining my experiences with the medium, but there is still a broad societal sense that they are not worth the time or energy spent on them. This, of course, has been said of numerous endevours throughout human history. You would think that this would eventually become a lesson learned: popular and idle judgements about art forms are usually proven to be foolish when those art forms enter the mainstream. This is precisely the reason I am not particularly interested in changing hearts and minds on the topic. Society will turn towards the medium or not. It will remain on the periphery or not. My enjoyment probably should not be caught up in that ephemera.

And yet I occasionally have experiences with games that I feel the need to point towards as ‘important’ or otherwise significant. That happens almost every time I pick up Crusader Kings. I do not think it is for everyone, because it is a sandbox filled with madness – and failure – but it is a game that I bring far outside of myself after each playthrough. Lessons, mania, and all.