Player’s Perspective: Ben Schaffzin

Sophomore Ben Schaffzin.
Photo by Larissa Davis.

Previously called “What A Game!,” this column seeks to engage individuals and hear their stories of how games have impacted them as well as their views of the culture, community, content and controversy within gaming.

The video gaming industry has fallen victim to a great number of corporate practices plaguing other industries. The “realistic” remakes of beloved Disney movies, the addition of another Star Wars trilogy, a new enterprise in the Harry Potter universe — they are all expeditions searching for the wallets of their fans. As a result, the industry is innovating less. Ben Schaffzin, a sophomore saxophone performance and government double major, tends to agree. 

“Finding games that exist outside of the trends developers are chasing to pursue ever-increasing profits gets harder and harder year after year,” Schaffzin said.

Schaffzin started playing video games at a young age. “I remember [gaming] was a more casual thing my dad and I would do,” Schaffzin said. “He had bought a used [Nintendo] GameCube. My first full experience with a video game was ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.’” The stylized cartoon graphics action-adventure game made for a great introduction to video games for many children.

As Schaffzin got older, he began to delve deeper into the world of video games. 

“In 2016 I picked up ‘Bloodborne’ and, for the first time, I discovered a game could be challenging and demanding of your attention, your time and have a steep learning curve,” Schaffzin said. “Often, players would [stop playing] because it was too much of an investment or it was too difficult from the outset. Playing ‘Bloodborne’ proved to me that games can be hard but the sense of gratification from overcoming something really difficult can be one of the most satisfying parts of gaming.”

Schaffzin’s search began to deepen, and he would stumble across the fantasy role-playing game “Final Fantasy VII,” an original PlayStation game. 

“I am very excited for the remake coming out in March this year,” Schaffzin said. “… I [decided] to go back and ingratiate myself with the story and the characters so I could get a newfound appreciation for the remake. This game [was] made in 1997 with very rudimentary graphics that looked like Playmobil characters at some point; you can tell a lot of the game is up to using your imagination to fill out the nuances in these characters. The game gives you enough so you can start developing these characters, what they would look like and how they would sound.”

Schaffzin was amazed by “Final Fantasy VII.” He did not expect such a game to have a compelling story over 20 years after it was released. He found it approachable even though the graphics were outdated, appealing for a game which left so much to imagination. 

“As wacky as ‘Final Fantasy VII’ can become, it truly felt like a game that’s timeless. A game you can enjoy at whatever age,” Schaffzin said.

Today though, Ben finds it hard to find these timeless games. 

“So, as I have gotten older, these games with a clear vision, those do not normally align with why most people play games. I want to see the medium of video games reach out and grasp concepts it normally would not and that people don’t normally expect. As much as I enjoy playing these decade-old series, I am very invested in these experiments and hope others come to enjoy these sorts of games.”

Schaffzin is not demanding others should stop playing their “Apex Legends” or their “Fortnite,” but there are games with more complexity, and Schaffzin hopes others will enjoy them as he has grown to.

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