Reading Response #2
Leyth Toubassy
October 9th, 2022
Music 256a / CS476a, Stanford University

Reading Response: The Idyllic Video Game Sublime
The reason I decided to take this class isn't really because I love music. I do really like it don't get me wrong, but for me the side of this course I'm most interested in is the designing of experiences. Integrating music with games is one way I want to do this (I'm even working on a rythm game in Unity with a friend right now!). In chapter 2 of Artful Design we learn all about the evolution of computer music and some more of the story behind Smule and the creation of magic piano (as a former magic piano addict this was awesome). Today what I want to talk about is the idea of the video game sublime though, and I want to do this by looking at 3 very different, very sublime games. The first of these games is Hollow Knight. Hollow Knight is huge, it's in my opinion the best made game I've ever played. Everything about the game feels clean and polished, and the world design is incredible. As someone infamous for starting lots of games and finishing none, Hollow Knight instantly captured my attention. I soaked up every piece of lore and dialogue of this game, and never so much as Googled anything. I never needed to find the answer to a question online, I used my own skills and discovery to find my own path. Even though all the characters are bugs, Hollow Knights environmental design is truly special. Every area feels unique, sprawling at first but like home after a little while. On my first playthough through Hollow Knight I managed to get the "true" 100% ending. In most games I rush for the end, trying to see how the story goes as fast as I can, but Hollow Knight was different. When playing Hollow Knight I wanted to experience every single detail and was able to without a single guide. Hollow Knight bosses are also incredibly hard, and beating each one felt like a puzzle, the satisfaction after beating a Hollow Knight is really something I haven't gotten since.

Next up on the list, Destiny 2. Destiny 2 is not like Hollow Knight, while in recent years the game's story has vastly improved, Destiny isn't on it's own clearly art. What is art is how it can bring people together. For me, Destiny was how I made my friends in school, it was almost like a second life, instead of hanging out at the mall me and my friends would hang out on Mars instead. A few months ago I wouldn't have called Destiny sublime, but several months ago my friends completed something we had been getting at for years. We finally beat a raid the day it came out. Doing this made me really reflect on my time playing Destiny. At first Destiny was full of exploration, discovering new weapons and secret spots on the map, but over the course of 7 years and nearly 3,000 hours, that mystery felt gone. In preparing for our Day 1 raid we had researched everything about the game, every single status effect, every weapon trait, every enemy, and I realized that I had mastered the game, there was no real reason to keep playing it. That day I decided to go to Destiny's biggest map and just walk around, no sprinting, no shooting, no nothing. Just walking. In the process I realized what truly makes Destiny sublime. For me, the world has become a real part of my life. Going for a walk in a video game makes next to no sense, no experience, no loot drops no nothing. Pointless. I came to the realization that the screen flashes that make up Destiny were so much more. They in many ways are part of my reality, parts of what makes me, me. The world of Destiny have become part of my world, places that I've made memories, and if that's not sublime, what is?

I'll tell you what is! Terraria! Not to flex or anything but I've been playing Terraria since before it was cool, I started playing the week the game came out on mobile, and it was the main use for my iPad mini at the time. Terraria was a game I played ALL the time. It was so huge and so packed full of stuff I was always stumbling upon new things, and since I played Terraria before I was allowed to use the internet whenever I wanted to, I always felt like I was discovering things myself. The joy of discovery is profoundly human, for me back then, Terraria was a super obscure game that only I played, it was my childhood escape, a world where I could do anything, be anything. It was a world I thought I had mastered, a world where I had discovered everything there was to discover. It was a game I actually played with both my little sister's and my mom (My main character I still use to this day is her old one that I co-opted when I got her old iPad, bit of a tangent but it's wild that my mom's terraria character is older than like actual people who can talk and stuff, including my little cousins). To my knowledge Terraria is the only game my mom has played since Donkey Kong on the Game & Watch (besides Candy Crush, sublime only in its monetization). To sum it up I thought I was the expert, I honestly thought I was the best at the game. At least until middle school when I got my first phone. Upon booting up the Terraria wiki I found out a couple things:
1. Terraria is suuuper popular, like super, like right now it's the 11th highest selling game ever (and is going to take 10th place any day now). It's higher than Smash, Skyrim, any of the Zelda games, and every Pokemon Game outside of Red and Blue.
2. I was literally stuck in the first hour of gameplay, like actually. I had spent multiple YEARS in the first miniscule part of the game and I didn't even KNOW. There was another 90% of this game I didn't even know existed.
These relavations should have been kind of earth shattering but they weren't. I still remember how giddy I was to learn how much more there was to explore, I started going on the Terraria Wiki during classes to map out what I was going to do each day when I got home from school. Terraria still receives updates regularly, 11 years later, to me there is nothing more calming and serene than booting up a Terraria world and just exploring, starting fresh. For me, any game that you can play the first 10% of for years and not even notice, aught to be sublime, the sheer wealth of content and experience in Terraria is like nothing else.