The world is not what it used to be.
Gone are the days when the only sources of entertainment for children involved running, balls, imagination, forts, or any combination of these. Now, the main source of entertainment for children (and by children I’m referring to people up to the age of 17), and now generally people of all ages, comes from technology – video games, movies and television, cell phones and tablets, computers and the Internet (or as I like to call it, the interwebs). Now, this move from more physical to virtual entertainment can be said to have a plethora of negative effects on Homo Sapiens Sapiens. From obesity to poor sleeping habits to social and communicative interaction, technology has done a number on our species. Video games in particular get a lot of ‘flack’ for affecting people, especially children.
However, since I am also Homo Nerdus – that is, I am a nerd – I can come up with quite a few reasons for why I believe video games should be played by everyone. (At this time I’d also like to mention that I like to play and watch sports, and am an equestrian; I ride and work with horses, and I’m currently in an equine program at the University of Guelph. There are people out there who do so much more than just game their faces off during spare time!)
One game in particular that I believe everyone should play, at least once in their lives, is a game from The Legend Of Zelda series; any game from this series will work, although my favourites are The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past and The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
Here are four reasons why I think everyone should play The Legend Of Zelda:
4. You get intrinsic as well as extrinsic rewards.
In the Legend Of Zelda games, you have to solve increasingly difficult puzzles. Usually, these puzzles reward Link (your character) with some sort of useful prize: money, partial or full heart containers (these increase how much max health you can have), what I like to call ‘lock-and-key items’ (items that unlock another part of your quest that you couldn’t reach before; a great example is the Zora Tunic, which lets Link breathe underwater), and of course, Link’s weapons (eg. Magic Hammer, Boomerang, etc). Now, someone might say that completing/solving the puzzles purely results in extrinsic rewards. This person obviously hasn’t played any Legend Of Zelda games. I say this because getting the item from the puzzle is, to me, an expectation – a sure thing. You can’t complete the game or even go that much further in the game without getting the puzzle’s reward item. However, that satisfactory feeling of knowing that you were able to figure out how to actually solve that puzzle – now that is a great feeling (anyone who’s played Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time understands when I say that figuring out how to complete the Water Temple for the first time, without any sort of cheat sheet help, is a fairly huge accomplishment; when you’re 9 years old and you manage to figure it out, you feel like you should ask your parents to enroll you in a school for the gifted). And these aren’t all the same puzzles; moving blocks around, defeating a multitude of enemies with different attack and defense strategies, switch-flipping, and timed puzzles are just a few examples of what kinds of puzzles make up the challenges in the Zelda series. You have to look at all the possibilities, and question everything that you think is “impossible”, because often that “impossible” idea is actually the way to complete the puzzle.
“…someone might say that completing/solving the puzzles purely results in extrinsic rewards. This person obviously hasn’t played any Legend Of Zelda games.”
I recently heard a podcast about a Game Design program where the teachers implemented their own optional educational video game spanning across all 4 years of the program; it was found that the students playing the game did much better than those who didn’t participate, both grades-wise, and getting more out of their education. The game didn’t have any extrinsic rewards, by the way.
And really, what do you get out of playing a video game? You usually don’t get any money for playing the game, or a job, or snacks. You do get the satisfaction of completing the game though! You also develop a sense of self-esteem / self-worth, pride in your accomplishments, better night-time driving vision, and improved ability to multitask.
3. You Don’t Need To Be Talented In Any Way.
I love soccer. I love horseback riding. I love hockey. Can I manage to kick the ball into the air more than 75 feet? No. Can I manage to ride a horse around a course set at 4-foot jump heights without almost falling off after landing each jump? I wish. Can I play hockey (road or ice) without managing to break off the head of my stick every time? You make me laugh (ha ha ha ha!).
But can I learn to play any Zelda game (or any game for that matter) and be on the path to success within minutes of getting into the game? Definitely. And that’s not just me who’s able to do this! My mom, for example, has never really played any video games, and yet, once I introduced her to Pokemon Puzzle League, she moved up to Hard level within a half hour, and had progressed to Very Hard in a measly 15 minutes after that. I’d also like to point out at this time that my mom doesn’t feel comfortable updating the anti-virus software on the computer. This should tell you how afraid of technology she can be.
The Legend Of Zelda games have been built especially to progress with the player. If you’re just learning how to use the sword, there’s no point in teaching you the most complicated of moves right away; you would be better off learning how to jab, slash, and just generally move away from your enemies. Likewise, the puzzles start off easy and not so time-consuming at first, then progressively get more complex. The aforementioned Water Temple is placed halfway through the game to truly test your patience, make you use your brain, be careful of how you manipulate Link in the game, and start to really set the tone for the rest of the game. There’s no point in making this dungeon one of the first ones, as you would easily get discouraged.
The only thing you really do need to be able to do is read. Since there is minimal to no voice-acting (a hotly debated subject in the Zelda-verse), you have to read the text on the screen to know where to go next or what to do.
2. You Learn Some Morals.
The main driving force behind Link’s quest is to find and protect the Golden Triforce – a magical sacred relic made up of 3 golden triangles (Triforce of Wisdom, Triforce of Power, and Triforce of Courage), that can grant the wish of the person holding it. This relic is in the center of the Sacred Realm (an alternate dimension/realm), and if the person who holds it is good and pure, the Sacred Realm will prosper; an evil person holding the Golden Triforce will cause the realm to become dark and evil.
The main enemy in the Zelda series is Ganondorf – a man who best personifies the Triforce of Power, and continuously seeks to claim the Golden Triforce; his greed and evilness usually end up making the world a horrible place early on in the games, and so Link’s main goal is to thwart Ganondorf’s plans and help make the world good again. Obviously, the main moral of this story is that too much power is definitely not good for you, or the world around you – there should be an equal balance of wisdom, power, and courage.
As well, Link, the best representative of the Triforce of Courage, is always a random boy in a small village. Obviously he is always destined to have a great role in life, but he wasn’t really blessed with any special gifts that made his life easy. He wasn’t faster than the other kids, or wiser, stronger or richer – he had to work to accomplish all his achievements. The moral of his story is that with a little courage (okay, with a lot of courage), you can achieve so many great things, and you don’t even have to be special to do so. As well, Link has to do so many tasks; some of them are plausible and fun, and others are just tedious. He still had to do them all to get what he wanted and improve. For example, Link had to do so many annoying little errands for various people to acquire his ultimate sword (which is actually not necessary to beat Ocarina Of Time). On top of that, you can’t even get this amazing sword until you have beaten half of the game.
“…with a little courage… you can achieve so many great things, and you don’t even have to be special to do so.”
Another lesson learned here: you’re not going to get the greatest things (which can sometimes be the most expensive things) in life right away. Work hard, get new life experiences, be kind and helpful wherever you can, and network with as many people as you can. It will pay off in the end in some way or another.
There’s many more benefits of playing this game, but I’m going to end this post with my final reason for why I think everyone should play The Legend Of Zelda:
1. The Legend Of Zelda Games Are A Fun And Great Topic For People To Connect Over.
In general, video games are something anyone can enjoy, regardless of age, gender, education, and background. It’s just like music – you have your preferences over which genres you like to listen to, but deep down you like music as much as the next person. Nowadays it’s a bit harder to label someone as a gamer; does it count if you like to play Draw Something or Farmville? Those are both games. My mom plays Bejeweled on her iPad, and I play Pokemon Puzzle League; these two games are extremely similar. Does playing one make me a gamer, but the other doesn’t? Frankly, it shouldn’t, and doesn’t, really matter.
The Legend Of Zelda is one of those games that everyone can appreciate – from the graphics to the storyline to the music (by the way, in 2011 there was a Legend Of Zelda 25th Anniversary concert tour to celebrate the beauty and success of the Zelda franchise). It’s something that people from very different groups can really connect over. Case and point: I know someone who hated my guts until he/she found out that we both love The Legend Of Zelda, among other things. As well, my neighbour and I, as kids, probably wouldn’t have hung out so much if we hadn’t gotten into the Zelda games together and worked through the game’s puzzles as a team (two pairs of eyes are usually always better than one pair of eyes!). So even though the series’ games are single-player Role Playing Games (RPG, if you will), they have brought many different people together.
And yes, video games are time-consuming and make you not want to do your homework, but there’s so many good things about them too.
Plus, the games are just so much fun! And who can say no to fun?
(Apparently Grumpy Cat can.)
This post has been re-posted here at TheNerdyAg.wordpress.com, initially published by the same author at a different URL. Original Posting Date: May 29, 2013