UPDATE: FILLING A VOID
It's been a while since I made a post of any kind regarding books. It might seem strange then that this post will actually be about a computer game. It may even seem blasphemous to post about such a thing on a book blog, but I've discovered some things about myself as a reader during my time with this game and so I figured I'd make a post about it.
Before jumping into the wild world of Guild Wars 2, an online fantasy MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game) I found myself falling into a bit of a reading slump. At the time I really couldn't say why. I've had a fantastic reading year so far, maybe the best I've ever had. And as a previous post stated, I was very nearly done with the Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge. I felt extremely excited to wrap this up and had four books already in the works, but I just stopped feeling compelled to read and suddenly downloaded Guild Wars 2 which I had purchased and played a good while ago, but really didn't think about for a long time. It was a game that kind of dropped from my interest after a while. I'd played through with a character and tested out a couple others, but I'd never finished my play-through with my main avatar. It felt really random then that I'd suddenly just download and play this game again, but once I had it reinstalled and booted it up once again, I realized something that's either quite profound or remarkably stupid.
|A look at my main avatar, Denacten|
|A scene from Denacten's personal story|
At this point you might be worried that I'm going to criticize literature as a medium, but that's really not what any of this is about. It's true that comparing video games to books is akin to comparing apples with oranges, but if you've read for this long, do try and hear me out. See I'm the sort of person that wants to always feel engaged in anything and everything that I do. I also want to feel some sort of progression, improvement, or general sensation of accomplishment. Good books can give me all of these things. I got all of this when reading Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and even Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy (technically I still need to read the third one, but you get the idea). When I read these books, I read them as an active reader. I felt that my experience was customized to me. Maybe not in the way that a video game is, but certainly by a means that felt special, memorable, and rewarding. There are some other great titles that came to my mind as well, but all of them have a common theme.
While all four of my books from August were enjoyable and entertaining and creative in their own ways, they were also all very literal and straightforward. There simply wasn't a lot of room for me to make connections, anticipate what would come next, apply moments of the text to my own life, or even really become fully connected with most of the main characters. Unstable Prototypes is a fun scifi adventure that I'm very nearly done with, but it's very familiar to anyone who's had experience with 90's science fiction and most of the characters, while colorful, are also pretty static. Brooding City was a solid paranormal mystery as well, but again, neither the characters nor the world itself had the sort of symbolic depth that I've been craving. The Martian is perhaps the most science heavy science fiction I have ever read and Mark is one of the most splendid characters in literature, but due to it being so focused on being a grounded piece of fiction, I also had no room here to make this story my own. Then there was the Grim Brother's classic fairy tales which do have some underlying messages, but they are much thinner than what you'd find in say a fable or parable. All in all, I just didn't have room to live within the stories that I've read this month. They belonged to other people and while they were all quite good, these stories were just too full for me to put anything of my own into them. It's kind of like getting a coffee, but then the person serving you doesn't leave any room for you to put what you want into it. I love coffee, but I also want to have it with cream and sugar. If I don't have room to put those things in then the coffee just isn't the same for me.
An alternate character that I sometimes mess around with to try a different character class.
Mainly, I've just been playing through her personal story since I had a free boost to level 20
Does this mean I'm done with reading as a form of entertainment? Absolutely not! I think I'll just try and be more selective in making sure that I have at least one book in my current reads that delivers the level of engagement that I'm looking for. Perhaps I'll also try to alternate a bit more between gaming and reading since I do like games very much and part of the reason I got so hooked on Guild Wars 2 was that it had been so long since I'd really say down to play a game. Another element is that because Guild Wars 2 is a multiplayer game, I was able to meet up with one of my friends online and share my experience in the game with someone. I've never really been one for book clubs or buddy reads, but I do feel like books are meant to be talked about or at least referred to. I achieve some of this through this blog, but writing about books that really changed the way I think or feel about things is far more rewarding to post about than books that were just good stories.
I do realize that what I'm saying I want out of books is a tall order and I'm not saying I need for every book I ever read to be the most profound piece of fiction I have ever laid eyes on. I think the key for me moving forward will just be to try and strike a balance so that I am allowing time to read things that are more prescriptive alongside books that beg for deeper thought as well as some time to indulge in other forms of entertainment like games and television dramas that I enjoy.
Now that I'm back, it hopefully won't take too long for me to catch up with all of the posts I have to make before diving into a new reading cycle. I'll be making my reading choices a little more carefully, taking on fewer books at a time, and leaving room for other things and hope that I don't get burnt out like I did recently. I'd also like to know how other people feel about this topic. Do you prefer to shut your brain down and just enjoy a story or are you more interested in having an interactive relationship with Fiction?
I'll try to keep the posts coming over the next few days. In the meantime, you can check out some other screenshots of my time in the world of Guild Wars 2: