As many of you know, I’m a gamer. I don’t mean that in the dudebro, sarcastic, ironic sense of “yeah, I play Halo just to teabag people in some sort of fulfillment of my deep-rooted homoerotic desires.” I mean that in the sense that I enjoy video games and play them on a regular basis. Over the past couple months, I found myself deeply into an episodic “choose-your-own-adventure” visual novel-type game called Life is Strange. Yeah, the one about the girl with the “rewind power.”
I’ll be honest, I’ve never felt as strongly about a game as I have with Strange. As flawed as the characters (and/or their development/overuse of words such as “hella,” just to sound forcibly realistic) may be, I’ve become mesmerized with the lives of Max and her cohorts.
Maybe it has something to do, like other players, with the fact that its release coincided with several events where I really could’ve used some chaos theory-manipulating powers. The first episode was released about a month before my son’s mother and I separated, while episode two released four days before my mom passed. Episode three, released this past Tuesday, was released during a different milestone.
It was the first time I actually grieved for my mother.
Now, let it be known. I cried tears, I cursed the heavens, I went through the denial-to-acceptance stages. But, recently, I’ve actually had it hit me that my mother wasn’t coming back. I used to wish for a power similar to Max’s. When I was a kid, and there were fights between my mom and dad, I’d wish I could go back and, for instance, stop him before he swung at her. Inversely, there were times I wished I could go back and stop my mom from damn near bludgeoning him with his own cane out of fear for her safety/to show who really ran shit around the Speed household, since he wasn’t around as much (but it was still legally his house). Sufficed to say, growing up, there was some stuff that I wanted to have a do-over on.
But, I’ve come to learn that all the things that happen in life, they do happen for a reason. And, as much as we may miss someone or something, we must live with our pasts…but not in them. My mother’s dead. She is gone. But, she is not forgotten. However, I can’t change the past. If I did, who knows what insanity may’ve befallen me? I could’ve ended up dead or in jail. So, as much as I miss her, I know that her bringing me into this world and her exit from it were for reasons, even if I don’t fully understand them yet.
But, back to Life is Strange, since I doubt some of you out there want to hear another “Mama Young is Gone” story.
This series showcases the butterfly effect in a way that other mediums have failed at. For instance, the film The Butterfly Effect (and its worse sequels). It was effective at explaining the phenomenon, but I found myself not really feeling for the characters as much as I should have. With Strange, I find myself questioning every action I make and anticipating its implication (even if said implication is pretty horrible). The cast of characters, while mostly white and written by potentially mostly 25-to-40-something white men, are still diverse. And even though there’s an overuse of the word “hella,” the characters feel real. So, all in all, go check out the series if you’re in the mood for some feels (or at least another entry into the “video games can be art, too” argument).