If you’re someone who yearns for connectedness, Death Stranding is for you
Wow Nadia. I am 100% honest when I say that reading this was the first time I felt a spark today.
I am not a video game person - in fact never played one unless the arcades are considered video games. I always thought them to be violent and pointless but your post made me feel like insanely wrong.
I had no idea you have so much stories and value inside video games. And you are such a great writer to convey those facets of life so beautifully. I felt like I was reading some old diary of mine ( it felt so connected). I wish I could have read your old magazine contents but I am happy for you as it must have been a very hard decision to delete old writings. I can say that you are living up to your expectations and you are making everyone feel included. I can personally say that as you have been showering me with love on my posts. There are times when knowing that someone is effected ( positively) by your work, you feel hopeful.
So grateful for your hopeful writing. I will be reading every post of yours even when I have no idea how to play any video game.
Thanks for reminding me of the importance of games in our lives! I'm more of a board gamer, but have lived computer games and RPGs through my husband & son (and even wrote a MG novel about a kid who writes RPGs). For me, the art that most affects me is music, always. Elgar's cello concerto played by the brilliant and tragic Jacqueline du Pre, in particular, whom I tried to emulate when I played it myself.
"Before I was a reader of stories, I was a gamer of stories" what a great line. This essay took me back to my video game obsessed days of old. Thank you for bringing back the memories!
James Michener's Texas altered me. I still feel the characters as though they were close friends and family unlike any I've had.
Can I say any more about being alone without committed connections? To be honest it's been so long I felt anything like it that I might as well have forgotten how it feels and its significance in life. We live in peculiar times really. But I have hope, and won't give up on being kind and open, although I find the latter much difficult to do. What has helped you be more open to others now than in the past?
I share your passion for games with strong narratives. It's mostly all I want to play these days, complementing the escape and wonder that reading brings.
I haven't actually played Death's Stranding yet (I do own it; from an Epic giveaway I believe). I didn't have the time when it released, but I've been meaning to get to it, if my now-not-so-newly-built PC can handle it...
What a treat it was to wake up and read this piece on one of my favourite auteurs! Kojima holds a really special place in my heart, too. I haven’t played Death Stranding, but the Metal Gear series holds a really special place in my list of influences.
And just as a person, Kojima is such a rockstar. Have you listened to his podcast?
You touched on so many meaningful things here. Loved how you brought in your personal experience with video games. You’re so right, they play such a strong role in our childhoods and the stories we create.
"Homo Ludens are said to be superior to average humans, possessing advanced latent mental abilities and morality superseding those of the general human species."
I love Death Stranding, nothing could ever describe my experience of journeying through that world and making deliveries while the world outside felt grim with lockdowns.
Kojima is a visionary who understands our goal as gamers. We shall keep playing. We shall keep dreaming.
This essay speaks to me in a multitude of ways. I was also a gamer way before I was a reader, though I grew up with vastly different games. The first games I ever played were the Spider-Man and Hulk of the early 2000s, and I remember being so happy finishing my first game (which was Spider-Man).
I grew up with Mortal Kombat and Tekken and Naruto fighting games, playing with friends on late summer days as we ate strawberries and the afternoon sun would shine on our scrunched up faces.
You’ve really managed to conjure up that world for me again, and for that, I thank you, Nadia. Maybe this is a subject I could also explore in my writing, as it strikes me that I’ve never done so, and I feel compelled to revisit those times.
What you said about social media and the lit world also resonates with me. I quit Facebook and Instagram more than a year ago, and I only visit Twitter when I get a notification, but I rarely see tweets from my friends over there anymore. They too must have left. I’m so sorry about what happened to you, and I felt similarly during a year in 2021 when I couldn’t write much so I felt out of place on Twitter, and not having any other apps to socialize made me kind of forlorn. Being on Substack changed all that for me, I’ve met so many wonderful people (people like yourself), who come here to genuinely share and enjoy great writing, which is really the main reason I’m on the internet, nowadays.
Thanks again for writing the essay. It seems we’re kindred spirits, in a way.
This was a really lovely read, Nadia, thank you for writing and sharing. The stories told through games I loved when I was a kid were the first to hook me as well. Then films. And then, finally, books. I haven’t been into games for a while now, but this made me want to dive back in. This game sounds incredible.
oh man I could talk about immigrants and video games (just me and the games I loved) FOREVeR
I love the aspect of Death Stranding making you aware of unseen others’ needs. How cool. Thank you for sharing this, Nadia!
Fantastic article. Unbelievably, I got Death Stranding for free on the Epic Games Store. But I haven't played it yet. Your depiction of it may have just pulled me over the line.
If I had to name one game that (recently) changed my life, it's Red Dead Redemption 2. What a unique game. With most other games, I'm trying to rush from objective to objective. With RDR2, I could just sit on my horse and travel trot in the wilderness and be perfectly happy. It was meditative. Combine that with the exceptional storytelling, a fantastic protagonist in Arthur Morgan, and the brilliant use of music, and you've got a game that's among the best art of the 2010s.
I love the phrase “gamer of stories” I am going to share this with my daughter who is making the transition from gamer of stories to creator of stories. Not that she will ever leave gaming obviously.
I never played Death Stranding... I know I know... but hear me out... Time! Time is of the essence. I need more time! To play all the games! Deleted FB/IG/WTSP in 2016... I can relate. I might have to do an essay on my gaming journey... one day. This was a great write-up, Nadia.
LOVE this sentence: "Before I was a reader of stories, I was a gamer of stories." This whole piece is great, really enjoyed this insight into your journey with gaming and online spaces too. I was obsessed with first Tomb Raider game too - me and my brother used to play it together trying to figure out the puzzles. Such a great game!
Ah! My first read of your newsletter and I loved it!
I got so excited to see all the games you mentioned that I loved too (I'm someone who watches most games--ESPECIALLY horror through let's play YouTubers haha). Last of Us, Amnesia, and Outlast stood out the most!
Death Stranding looks interesting too!
I'm trying to get back into video gaming (seeing where it fits in this new life); I was around your age when I started as well. Pokemon Blue took my heart and I remember playing pretend, believing I truly WAS a Pokemon trainer.
My grandma kept a Sega Genesis in the basement for us grandkids and I ended up eventually taking it (with permission) and then she got a Dreamcast we'd play, and at my aunt's growing up I'd play my cousin's Nintendo 64 with my youngest cousin.
Had a Gameboy color, Gameboy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, and I got a Switch Lite late last year.
Your piece turning into the truth of the disconnect of human nature and our experience was so profound! While I was reading your bit on how fast the internet is moving (getting into a space where it's quick to judge/move/act/etc.) reminded me of my seething hatred for TikTok.
Not so much me shaking my fist at it like an elder, but just... I just don't enjoy it. I don't enjoy whole concepts that are over in the blink of an eye.
I also REALLY don't enjoy how much information gets construed over there, or how many dangerous challenges and new concepts for the ways people should live start over there and manifest into something dangerous or toxic. Bleh.
If you love story-heavy games, ooooh my gosh I am in love with God of War: Ragnarok. It's the third game, and I think you get even CLOSER to the story if you start from the beginning but... My gosh was it good.
I personally didn't need the other two to get sucked in. I'm not usually one who notices world-building, but you can't NOT notice the world cohesively coming together around you!
It is also the answer to your life-changing art question. That game. It came to me after I lost mom and taught me about parenting (with our mother-daughter dynamic), "being better", grief, storytelling, and more. It was so good!
Another piece of art I loooove is BoJack Horseman. Hands down my favorite show ever. On the surface, it looks silly as you see humans and anthropomorphic animals co-exist (in ALL the ways), but you eventually look past it and by the end of season 1, into season 2 you start seeing it's potential and get sucked in... and then as it continues it gets. so. much. better.
The way animation media is able to find different ways to communicate messages and themes that live action just can't do is so magical and powerful to me.
There's a part in the last season that conveyed ending your life, and it was during a time when I was ideating. Didn't watch season 6 so I thought I would before I decided anything.
That episode sobered me up. It was SO visceral. I'm sure it specifically was up for an emmy nomination (I get the awards mixed up but I'm sure that's right)!
Ahhhh... I love art.
Thank you for sharing your views and life! I can't wait to read more!