Re: Formative games
I'm glad I could help you re-remember to check out Lone Survivor. Having re-read your first response, you definitely got to the core of my intent. I definitely come down on the "video games are art" side of the argument which leads me to
Those all sound really interesting, and I feel a little ashamed I've only come close to playing one of them (Dark Souls, no PS3 for Bilgey.) I wonder though, did those games affect your perspective on the world or just on other video games? Based on your response, it sounds like UFO could have had an impact on your perception of war. I often feel like most RTS' dehumanize your units way more than the FPS genre. Very few make you care about the hundreds of people you are sending into certain death. The units in Starcraft or Command & Conquer always seemed more like disposable tools or a means to an end rather than people with parents and spouses and children (ignore the fact that two thirds of the units aren't people, but that zergling still had a mommy!).
What you say about X-Wing is interesting though. Video games have already proven themselves to be a powerful teaching tool despite the fact that most games teach you little more than their own mechanics.
My experience with Dark Souls was great, though I'm not sure how similarly it mirrors Demon's. The art direction of Dark was fantastic. It does not take long for you to realize the world you are in is a dark (har har,) cold, unforgiving place. As a thematic element, this played off the brutality of the combat and the bizarre, semi-psychotic NPCs. It made any level of achievement feel that much more powerful. You find the area boss, you figure out how to kill it, and you brave the treacherous terrain to get there. No one is looking out for you. The best you can hope for is that some lunatic will be more interested in killing things with you rather than just killing you. I'm not sure how much that reveals about humanity, other than to infer that there is no altruism (which I don't believe,) but I found it interesting and beautiful nonetheless.
To take an opposing view on the "video games as art" question, I guess I'm looking to answer a different question.
Assuming you are not a robot, I would bet there isn't a single one of you who has not been deeply affected by some work of literature, film, song, etc. I can point to Catch-22 as having been hugely influential on my worldview. It's dark humor, cynicism, and ambiguous morality continue to make me re-examine the world and my own life. Whatever your opinion of Catch-22 may be, I think we can all agree it is a work of art. Whatever your definition of art may be, an emotional, meaningful, lasting impression certainly seems to be involved. But how many games have delivered that? How many games can you honestly say have impacted you on a personal level?
Geez, that turned into a wall of text. I'll stop blabbing now.