It’s raining cats and dogs. My horse “Budbud28” is tired. I get off her, pat her back and we walk together amidst a dense wood whose extraordinary quietness has enveloped us from all corners.
It’s getting dark, the visibility is almost negligible. All I can see is the silhouette of the mountain pass in the background as trees dance and whisper around me. My health cores are down and I finally decide to camp here in the wilderness.
I’m always looking for that perfect view before I camp. Feeding Budbud28 a carrot, I tie her to the ground and sit down around the fire to make myself warm. I brew a cup of black coffee. I’m glad that I bought that ground coffee a few hours earlier when I stopped for a beer in Valentine.
After my stamina core regenerates, I sit around the fire for a few mins. Taking in the bizarre sounds of the insects, a waterfall somewhere far away and the snip of the bonfire burning away the night. By this time I realize my eyes are closing and I send Arthur for a good six hours of sleep.
Little moments like these are the ones I cherish the most in Red Dead Redemption 2. Sure the main narrative is a whirlwind of emotional torture, and a diversified cast of characters that you grow to either love or hate by the time credits roll. But these little serene moments in between are what I remember the most.
As video game continues to defy its definition from being just a medium of entertainment towards a full-fledged virtual artistic medium that just doesn’t let one experience the plethora of emotions that come surging alongside it but also interact with them in the most humane way possible.
Hence, these little mundane tasks, like drinking coffee in an otherwise climatic action-packed video game is important. Important not just to provide us with a change of pace but also to understand its world, its characters and mostly yourself as a player.
The addition of these mundane tasks in video games is not necessarily new but has been drastically improvised upon in the last few years.
Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, which one may claim to be the most polarizing game of this generation, has its quirky ways to depict mundanity. One of them comes in the form of a pissing mechanic which the game’s main protagonist- Sam Bridges can indulge in.
Even though Kojima confirmed that this weird mechanic has a purpose in the game, many people felt it was just a useless addition of quirkiness in an otherwise serious game.
If we learn anything from Metal Gear going into Death Stranding, it’s that there can be beauty and purpose in the mundane. This needs to be even more true in Kojima’s version of a walking simulator. You have to be able to use your smaller moments to punctuate the big set pieces. While piss is a small tool in Sam’s arsenal, it contrasts nicely with your bola guns and ghost sensors because it reminds you that Sam is human. His shoes degrade, his body gets worn out, and sometimes he’s gotta take a massive leak.
Sam is human. These little elements significantly portray the realism that video games are trying to achieve, not just for the sake of interactivity but also to make us feel these characters, these worlds, in a way that isn’t possible in any other artistic mediums, and hence they are immensely important.
I feel that this pissing mechanic in Death Stranding is an important attribute in the game. It not only makes us more conscious about his condition, but it also pulls us incredibly close to the game in general. Not to mention the immense satisfaction one gets alongside this profound connectivity with other people across the globe when everyone is pissing at the same spot in the game. It’s incredible how little things like this can make us feel so wholesome.
This is, however, not the only mundane activity one can indulge themselves in Death Stranding. Sam can also drift off to sleep or massage his shoulders after a long trek. This is something I really dug into and later realized that it carried much greater value than one can intercept initially.
Every time I felt tired or felt like moving my arms and legs, I would often let Sam rest a bit in the game. This not only helped him regain his stamina in the game but mine in the real world as well. These little painstakingly created moments matter in these huge open-world games we devour ourselves into. Yes, drinking coffee in the morning while greeting your fellow camp members is one of them.
It’s exciting to see that even linear titles such as Life is Strange has welcomed these mundanity and serene moments that come along with it with warm gestures.
Life is Strange which otherwise can be a bit mind-bending, epic teen sci-fi adventure gives you enough time to catch your breath in between those dramatic moments that often involved someone dying or getting lost in another reality or worse.
These little moments with addition to an incredible heart-melting score in the background give us these jaw-dropping introspective moments that make me wonder. Are video games the synonym of magic?
From a gameplay perspective, it not only helps Max relax and ponder upon the events that have unfolded so far in the game but also serves as a recap for us players to digest and absorb everything that has happened and may happen in the future.
Video games have come a long way. It’s not like those B-rated movies that people indulge in to pass time and have some fun. In the modern age, video games have become a bridge that is helping us dissolve that thin line between reality and dreams. The addition of mundane tasks serves as the biggest catalyst of them all.