What is the American Dream? It is a belief that through hard work and freedom, a person can do anything he or she sets his or her mind to. It is the ideal that while motivations, cultures, and religions vary, anyone can succeed in whatever they chose. It is the sacrifice of time, money, and life to believe that anyone can attempt the impossible, and do the improbable. Quite simply, it is whatever you want it to be.
So, it is a fairly easy task to define the American Dream, but is it still attainable? If you asked that question a year ago, a number of people might have given you a different answer. Given the latest global, economic, and political turmoil, many feel the idea of the American Dream is waning. There is hope though. The dream has made it through world wars, and global depressions, and I am here to convince you it is alive and well. That is, it’s still attainable; you just need to enjoy gaming.
I present to you, five ways to achieve the American Dream through the latest releases in video games.
In the beginning of time, there was no American Dream. Similarly, there was no DRM. This was mainly because there was no America. However, since we can’t go that far back in time, Spore allows us to see how it would play out. Given the power of gods, you can shape the worlds how you see fit. Hard work and determination will, like the American Dream, lead to success as you fight against insurmountable odds and a universe out to convince you that your species must be the fittest in order to exist. Spore proves that even single-cell organism have dreams. Now, whether or not that is to evolve into phallic-shaped creatures from outer space remains to be seen. But that is a big part of the American Dream – the freedom to be anything you want to be.
Call of Duty: World at War
There is no greater sacrifice than that of our fellow men and women in military service. They are your fathers and mothers, your brothers and sisters. They have chosen to risk life in limb whether or not they always agree with decisions made by those who lead them. They have taken a dream that is far less materialistic than most, and they do this to protect you and your opportunity to dream.
Unfortunately most FPS war games glorify the role of the hero on the battlefield. You fight with an endless amount of respawns, weapons, ammunition, and health. Objectives are clear, moments of confusion are rare, and you always emerge the victor. Call of Duty 4 offered a rare opportunity to think about the sacrifices that are made each and every day by the men and women of our armed services. If you haven’t already, you owe it to yourself to play the latest installments in this series, and get a chance to experience the consequences of preserving the American Dream.
Rock Band 2
This is a dream nearly all of us have had at some point. From the moment you squeaked out those incoherent notes during your first grade recorder class, you knew you had to be a rock star. Unfortunately lacking a key ingredient – talent – this dream could never be. Luckily, Rock Band conquered this minor set back by simply removing the need to possess even a shred of musical ability. If you can press buttons in sequence (thank you Simon says) you are platinum. Now there are a number of you that may argue the Guitar Hero series should get credit for providing this vicarious American Dream achievement. However, up until Rock Band introduced multiple instruments, you were left to live the rock star dream as a one trick pony. Everyone knows the true experience is witnessing the spontaneous combustion of your bands third drummer.
Grand Theft Auto IV
The quintessential dream of the last 30 years has been to make money and as much of it as possible. Through money we shall find happiness and endless rewards with few consequences. If you don’t think people believe that, check out any of the current financial and economic news aggregates.
Unfortunately, when the tested method of time + hard work = success and money does not happen quickly enough, one must turn to alternative methods. Enter Niko Bellic, your gateway to the modern man’s American Dream. Through NiKo you can and will drive expensive cars, live in high rise apartments, and date cheap women. Not to mention with a near endless amount of cash and weapons everyone will both fear and love you. However, in the end what will you have to show for it? Play GTA IV and find out just how high the cost of the American Dream is.
As worlds are created, so too are they easily destroyed, and there is not a geek among you who hasn’t dreamed of spending a stent in a post-apocalyptic utopia. Though Max was mad and uniquely Australian, and the desert wastes of Tatooine were in a galaxy far, far away, Americans have a fascination with seeing the world destroyed and then persevering out of the ashes. For decades in the middle of the last century our culture dwelled on living the American dream even if most the earth was radioactive and uninhabitable. One part nostalgia and infinite parts awesome, Fallout 3 allows you to live all these fantasies. So, get in the vault and power up your Pip Boy. Boasting 100+ hours of gameplay, if the world doesn’t come to an end, your social life will.