Since returning from grad school residency a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been playing a lot of video games. Blame Steam, to whom I have given many dollars thanks to their holiday sales. I’ve played Dead Island, dabbled in Portal, and when I want something simple and silly, I fire up Plants vs Zombies. For the Xbox 360, I picked up Mass Effect 2 (yeah, I’m usually a couple of years behind everyone else). But I find myself, more often than not, turning back to certain games over and over. Given the current stress levels of my life, games into which I can completely immerse myself and shut out the rest of the world are my go-to entertainment.
I’m writing this while listening to Jeremy Soule’s Skyrim soundtrack. This is, hands-down, one of the most beautiful albums you could ever hope to own, which makes it quite fitting for the game it accompanies. Skyrim is a game I pop into the Xbox when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. I’ve played through it before, but back in October I decided to start a new character and make another go at it. Bethesda has sucked me into this before, with Fallout 3 and, to a lesser extent, Fallout: New Vegas. And while you may be tempted to ask why I would “waste” hundreds of hours playing RPGs instead of writing, I will tell you that these games have been huge inspirations and influences on my work. The Lord of the Rings made me want to write an epic fantasy novel someday, but Skyrim made me want to do it, like, now. And I do in fact have one outlined.
I have a point here, and it’s similar to the one I tried to make in my teaching module at residency. You can find inspiration just about anywhere. For me, it’s very often in video games (and their soundtracks). I assure you, not one of those hours has been wasted. More often than not, I come away with an even greater desire to write. Do whatever it takes to recharge your creativity. Your story will be all the better for it.