Theater is a dying art; and as an actor, that’s a hard pill to swallow. There are potentially a million reasons why theater is going extinct. Some people say it’s because of television, or because people no longer want to see local talent as opposed to watching big names in multi-million dollar productions of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” or “Sex in the City”. Some people claim that theatre just isn’t what it used to be.
In my acting class at the beginning of the semester, my new instructor made a very interesting assertion; “Theater is a dying art and actors are no longer needed because people have video games to do what theater used to do.” And I had to take a step back because I was at a loss for words. My professor had just said that my two greatest passions are entirely conflicting, and that video games are a reason why theater is dying. I sat through the rest of the class in a daze, I never really thought about it before, but they do. Video games do things that theater is meant to do, that it’s supposed to do, and as technology advances, it’s only going to get worse for us actors. But, then something else hit me. I couldn’t be an actor without my experiences in video games.
And It all started when I actually let myself be completely immersed into a video game. And that game was Call of Duty 4.
For those of you who haven’t played it yet, please stop reading, and go play it. Now. I don’t want to spoil it.
I never had enough money to buy an Xbox 360 of my own, but my little brother received the console the month I moved out of my house. Kinda shitty, huh? Anyway, I would come home and play it every now and again, playing Halo 3 or Assassin’s Creed, whatever game that was out that I thought would be mildly entertaining. It had to be enough to take my mind off of my shit grades I had that semester at my new school. One day though, my little brother felt sorry for me, and decided that I could take the 360 back to my apartment and play it for a week. And just my luck, Call of Duty 4 had released a few weeks earlier, and I thought “What the hell, right? It could be fun to kill a few hours with…” So I rented the game for a week from Movie Gallery and drove home eagerly awaiting a few mindless hours of playing through another mindless FPS.
I got home, loaded the disk, and expected to be mildly entertained, as I am with most FPS’s. But something was different. Yeah, the opening scene was amazing, but that wasn’t enough to pull me into it. And sure, in the beginning when my team mates died, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel any loss, I just thought, “Well shit, more of the baddies are going to shoot at me now.” But, by the time I had to rescue a downed helicopter pilot, I cared more. I don’t know why, but I started to get scared for my life and the pilots. While I was running back for the rescue chopper with the pilot on my shoulder, I thought everything was going to be honky dory. So, I get in the chopper, thinking to myself, “I’m going to get a medal for that save,” I toss a few frags at the enemies that tried rushing the chopper as it was lifting off and feel a smile slide across my face as I see them be blown back by the concussive force of the grenade. Time to get the hell ‘outta dodge.
Then, I look off into the distance. I hear screaming over the comm’s. The screen goes a blinding white, I feel it in my hands as my chopper is hit by a shock wave. My heart starts racing, and I don’t know what to do. I see a fellow soldier be thrown from the chopper as we spin out of control, and everything is engulfed in flames before I lose consciousness and everything goes black.
And I wake up in a different world. I see the team mates that I had grown to value, dead. I see the pilot that I rescued, dead. I stumble to the ground outside of the chopper, looking to see if anyone had survived only to see dust and ashes. I can hear broken chatter on the communication link, and I think I’ve survived. My breathing starts to be in sync with the sounds of the soldier’s breath. I can hear my heartbeat in the speakers of the television. Slowly, I turn around to see only what I knew what was going to be there, the horrific mushroom cloud, and I whispered to myself, “Oh my god…”
Suddenly, my sight starts to crane back, and everything goes white. It took me a few minuets to realize it, but when it did, I couldn’t stop staring at the screen. I just died. And not just me, everyone I fought with shoulder to shoulder, died. It was then I realized that tears had started to fill under my eyes, and that my mouth was dry from being slack jawed for five minutes. I had just experienced death.
From that point on, I fell in love with falling head first into video games. I started to replay games that I hadn’t touched for years to see what kind of emotions I could get from them. I felt terror as I took on the Los Ganados in Resident Evil 4. I felt like a hero when I finally conquered the Combine in Half Life 2. I felt compassion and sorrow for the deaths of the Colussi. And I felt love when I met the companion cube, and sorrow when I had to kill it. Well, maybe not the last one so much…
In my way of acting, I call on images, sounds, and feelings that trigger certain emotions. So, when I need to feel compassion, I could conjure up the images of Alyx or Eli Vance, depending on what kind of compassion I would want. When I need to feel evil, I could conjure up the images of Kefka or Sephiroth. What it boils down to is that video games allow me to expand my “library” of emotions, and without them I’d be just another expressionless actor on stage
Video games have allowed me to feel things I never could on my own, and for that, I have to thank the creators. Sure, video games and theater don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but both give me a chance live and grow through the eyes of another human. And whether it be on stage or through the television, my two passions have allowed me to live and grow as my own human being.
I’ve said this to my non-techie friends countless times. It’s no secret that being able to code makes you a better job applicant, and a better entrepreneur. Hell, one techie taught a homeless man to code and now that man is making his first mobile application.
Learning to code elevates your…
Free books: 100 legal sites to download literature
Browse works by Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and other famous authors here.
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If you don’t absolutely need to pay for your textbooks, save yourself a few hundred dollars by reviewing these sites.
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Math and Science
Turn to this list to find books about math, science, engineering and technology.
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From Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw to more contemporary playwrights, visit these sites.
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Modern Fiction, Fantasy and Romance
These websites boast collections of graphic novels, romance novels, fantasy books and more.
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For books in a foreign language like French, Spanish and even Romanian, look here.
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- KEIMENA: This page is entirely in Greek, but if you’re looking for modern Greek literature, this is the place to access books online.
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- Afghanistan Digital Library: Powered by NYU, the Afghanistan Digital Library has works published between 1870 and 1930.
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History and Culture
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Look for rare books online here.
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Arts and Entertainment
This list features books about celebrities, movies, fashion and more.
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Here you can find mystery books from Sherlock Holmes to more contemporary authors.
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These poetry sites have works by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
- The Literature Network: This site features forums, a copy of The King James Bible, and over 3,000 short stories and poems.
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For even more free book sites, check out this list.
- Banned Books: Here you can follow links of banned books to their full text online.
- World eBook Library: This monstrous collection includes classics, encyclopedias, children’s books and a lot more.
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- A Celebration of Women Writers: The University of Pennsylvania’s page for women writers includes Newbery winners.
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- Prize-winning books online: Use this directory to connect to full-text copies of Newbery winners, Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners.