The church was dark, but that wasn’t unexpected at this early hour. My geeky brethren hate the burning daystar, and thus, that was the time I chose to make my appearance. The sunlight streamed through the stained glass, making images of Link and Zelda, of Luigi and Daisy, of Master Chief and Commander Shepard, light up in fantastical ways.
I ignored them, moving on towards the confessional booth. My heart pounded in my ears, and I could imagine all the things the priest might say to me. Accusations of having lost the faith, warnings of dire times ahead, and the odd thought of glass-shattering transformation sequences filled my mind as I reached out for the confessional door. I took a deep breath to steel myself. This was it. I couldn’t back out now.
In the blink of an eye, I opened the door and stepped in. I dipped my fingers in the stoup of Mountain Dew and made the sign of a D-Pad on myself before kneeling. In the shadows, I could see the priest on the other side. He was shrouded in darkness, but I could just make out a large nose and a bushy mustache.
“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. It has been…far too long since my last confession.” In truth, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d confessed my sins. I hoped the priest wouldn’t think even worse of me.
“I… I actually really liked Final Fantasy X-2!” I spoke out in upset. It wasn’t what I had come here for, but it felt like an easier sin to confess. “I really, really like magical girls, and I got to play three of them, and there were transformation sequences and musical numbers and it’s just… Squeeee!” Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I squeed in front of the priest. The priest, however, saw right through my ploy.
“That’s not what you really came here for, though.” His tone held no judgment. He was merely stating a fact, a fact that we both knew was true. I sighed, and began again.
“I think… I think I don’t really like videogames anymore.” The priest said nothing, and after a moment I realized he was waiting for me to continue. “I mean, I still love the classics. I’ve still got my old SNES, purchased back when it first came out. I played A Link to the Past so much that when I found a French version of it, I didn’t even need to read the text to know what was going on. I played my copy of Star Ocean: The Second Story so much that I had to buy a new copy because I wore out the old one. And let’s not even get into how much I’ve played Kingdom Hearts, or how I still have dreams of Alucard and I taking on Dracula in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and falling deeply in love.” I paused, wetting my lips and taking a breath before continuing.
“But that’s the thing. I’ve played them so many times. And the new stuff coming out just doesn’t interest me. I don’t care about Call of Fallout: New Effect or whatever. I hate shooters, and they all feel the same. I hate MMO-style gameplay. And I really, really hate treating my console like a computer. If I want to play with people online, I already have a console for that. It’s called my PC.”
“But does that mean you don’t like videogames anymore?” The priest’s question was earnest, probing. I opened my mouth to speak, and then shut it. I thought for a few more moments before trying again.
“I suppose not. But even the games I’ve gotten on the PS2 and GameCube that I hadn’t played before aren’t really that interesting. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time just bored me, and…”
“What about games that are not boring?” The priest stopped me mid-sentence, his tone firm. “Have you not always stated that video games were an art form?”
“Well, yes father, but…”
“And have you played every game considered art for the systems you have? Shadow of the Colossus? ICO? Eternal Darkness? Majora’s Mask? How many games did you pass up when they came out because you didn’t have the money? Yet now, you do. Now you can purchase those games, and tell all of what you’ve found.”
“I could do that.” Hope surged within my heart. The priest was right. There were so many games out there, games considered flawless works of art by the gaming community, that I hadn’t touched for one reason or another. And now that I had an outlet to tell the world of these games…
“You know what you must do, child.” The priest’s voice was kind, almost proud. Yes, I knew what I needed to do. I jumped to my feet, and ran from the building. Maybe it was my imagination, but as I left the church, I couldn’t shake the sound of the Starman invincibility music.
I had recently purchased a copy of Fatal Frame 2, considered by all to be the creepiest, scariest game ever made. I would start there.