I think the thing I like most about video games is that there’s no other medium like them. They let you experience things that would either be impossible or incredibly dangerous in real life. I mean, where else could you travel to far off lands, meet (and carjack) interesting people, and generally live a life of adventure and intrigue, all from the comfort of your couch?

Well . . . that was really meant to be more of a rhetorical question, but yeah sure, I guess. If you want to be all LeVar Burton about it, I mean.

 

But video games are still an incredibly unique form of entertainment. I’m a huge fan of reading, especially words. But you have to admit that as great as your own imagination is, there’s something to be said for having a whole visual world brought to life right in front of you, complete with a vivid soundtrack, immersive effects, and unique, often intricately detailed characters. Nowhere else do we–

Ok, so obviously I’m not thinking these statements out too carefully beforehand. Movies. Whatever, fine. A little obvious, but fine.

Oh, and by the way, Ballistic? Ballistic. That’s what you chose as the image to embody all cinematic accomplishment everywhere. Ballistic. You know if you try to add this to your queue Netflix just redirects you to a Google map for the nearest rehab clinic, right?

But fine, whatever, I’ll give it to you. But I think we can all agree that video games are certainly unique in at least one way, and that is interactivity. Books and movies can take you to far off worlds or long-gone eras of adventure and mystery, but at the end of the day, they don’t allow you to participate. Unlike with games, all you can do is watch. I think you’d be hard press to think of anywhere else you–

Seriously? Why are you being like this? I get it. You can use an image search. I could do that too if I weren’t absolutely terrified of trusting the internet to provide me with pictures of anything anywhere without there being any, er, shenanigans.

You’ve made some good points. But I still think games are an incredibly unique form of entertainment. Because unlike stock photos of books, or terrible, terrible movies, or improv comedy skits about a guy accidentally going to a horse doctor instead of a human doctor, video games encourage the user to be creative. Few other mediums allow people to participate to the extent that they can create something completely new to the original product.

. . .

Nothing? Ok. Good. Then I’ll continue.

That’s why I’ve decided to do a post about my three favorite games-turned-instruments. These were games that, regardless of the fact that it may not have been their intention, allowed players to create their own music. What’s special about this is that, even if you weren’t particularly gifted as a musician, you could still come up with some pretty cool stuff, which is exactly what hundreds of players were inspired to do. So with that said . . .

 

#3. WarioWare: D. I. Y.

WarioWare: D. I. Y. is a game that lets the user make his or her own “microgames” (video game levels that last only a few seconds). All the while, you are guided by the game’s titular host, an overweight narcissist with a improbable mustache and a wardrobe even Flavor Flav thinks is a bit much.

If you're going to let video games raise your kids, they might as well have some role models.

 

But one of the coolest features is the fact that you can create your own soundtracks to accompany your microgames. The music-creator is a bit shallow and the cart doesn’t have a ton of memory to support your work, but nonetheless, many people (myself included) abandoned the rest of the game entirely in order to mess around with it.

 

#2. Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask

I know some non-gamers read this blog occasionally, so bear with me the rest of you; in both of these games, you were given a magic ocarina (shell-flute) on which you could play in-gane songs by pushing different buttons on the controller. You could use these songs to teleport all over the game world, turn day into night, and even travel through time.

Or, you could just creep people the hell out:

Defeat the ultimate evil? Rescue the princess? Save the world? Screw that mess. We want Freebird!

 

#1. Mario Paint

Mario Paint was a game for the SNES that allowed players to make still art, movies, and music to accompany them. However, unlike the previous two entries, there are literally thousands of entries on Youtube of people using the game’s music generator to create arrangements of other video game tunes, covers classic rock songs, and tons of original music. The game’s compositional aspect became so popular that fans even created Mario Paint Composer, an expanded version of the game’s music system that is still in use by many today. So I guess if you’re an aspiring composer and Logic Pro or Pro Tools are too expensive for you, you have another (awesome/hilarious) option available to you.

Those are my favorites. Anything else come to mind? What are some other things you’ve used to create music or art, especially if they weren’t intended for that purpose? I’d love to hear from you!

 

-Ryan