An Introduction & Visceral Gaming

Yeah, I’m new, you wanna fight about it? As a brief introduction, my name is Thomas but you can refer to me as Th12eat if you so choose. I will be writing game reviews, theory, competition, and psychology week to week. My goal is to communicate to all fans of video games by writing at the hardcore gaming level and adding definitions and links you can sidestep to if you have trouble understanding. Without further ado, lets dive into visceral gaming.

Over the years, I’ve played quite a few games. My palate ranges from mobile JRPG‘s to XBLA shmups, classic console RPG‘s to PC RTS‘s, and FPS‘s to DOTA‘s across all platforms. The impact on gaming to my life cannot be explained in one post. Sufficed to say I have a passion for this hobby that fringes upon obsession at times. “Why?” you might ask; because of visceral gaming experiences.

I play games for competition, fun, and knowledge (i.e. there are games I don’t like but feel the necessity to play due to it’s rapport amongst gamers). The games that make me hungry for more are those that envelope the environment in such a way that your mentality shifts out of reality and into surreality. I don’t just want to help Isaac off of Dead Space’s Ishimura because I know it is an objective, I want to do it because I believe in Isaac. He feels compelled to solve the mystery and find his girlfriend Nicole. The game’s experience provided futility and distress in such a way as to earn my emotional attention to the main character.

It’s funny, because, in gaming, people tend to view it’s media as a “game” in the trivial sense that it has no meaning in life. This is understandable due to the title of the genre. However, Roger Ebert and many other media professionals (mainly older) tend to take it too far by attempting to compare Shakespeare to Peter Molyneux. Articles started popping up last year that basically detail how “visceral gaming” is not real. As if to say video games do not influence or move you.

My retort to Roger Ebert’s thought, is to first condemn the idea of comparing Shakespeare to modern day video game authors such as Eric Nylund or Shigeru Miyamoto. You don’t compare the bicycle to the car. They’re both forms of transportation but are radically different in how they deliver the experience.

After watching E3 this year, I don’t think that you could walk away with anything but an indication of video games as art. Games like Watch Dogs, Dead Space 3, even ZombieU (and many others I’ve missed–sorry, Ubisoft stole the show) emphasized an interest in covering ALL plot holes to express an experience you care about.

Gordon Freeman

Take Half Life 2 for example. In my honest opinion, it is a master work of modern gaming (95’ to now). The picture above is from the Lost Coast DLC. The addition was primarily designed to show off all the features in Valve’s game engine. It’s also a great opportunity to show the game’s depth. What’s going on in the foreground? Where are we? What happened to that boat?  What about the background? Why is this city being attacked? The sunset provides a mood of anticipation as we wait for the environment to change. That is depth. That is changing your reality to view something through the eyes of a game designer. Depth brings excitement and wonder. The game does an amazing job of providing a multilayered experience without ruining it with necessary to display details.

The trick is that you have to let video games be something more to you. Stop viewing video games as just cheap entertainment. You have to let the story really fold out in front of you. Find out what the developers and game designers wanted you to see. Piece together the story and emotions trying to be conveyed, and accept the conclusions and solutions allowed to you within the story. Great games will do this automatically. You can’t help but be sucked into them.

I’m open to any and all topics of discussion so long as it pertains to video games. Please feel free to contact me with suggestion by clicking my name next to the article heading.



I am a student at the University of Kansas. You will find nobody who wants to talk about video games more than me. My quirky obsession with the genre has found me a home on Geekarate. Feel free to find me on twitter [i]@th12eat[/i] or send me a message on topics you would like to be discussed at my email above.

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