Classical Magazine Issue Seven/7/VII Is Here

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For all the bad habits I picked up in life without ever quite trying—the usual lite substance stuff, the odd verbal and writing tick, serial abuse of em-dashes—video games somehow never stuck with me. My experience with them ends in late prehistory, with a class of soda emptying into and onto a helpless gray Nintendo. That was that for that, and with the exception of some MarioKart moments and desperate drunken hours of a supremely janky Clinton-era NBA game—Alton Lister and James "Hollywood" Robinson were unstoppable forces; it was as if the game leapt from my imagination onto the screen without improvement or the technology necessary for effective gameplay—that was that in general. I wanted to do an issue of The Classical Magazine on video games, because they seem to me to work in the same idiosyncratic and individuated value-adding way that sports do, but I didn't necessarily know what the hell I was talking about. I want to be clear about that.

That issue is this issue, and while it is not and does not attempt to be definitive (that's kind of our thing), it gets at the things about why we play that I wondered about. While Jason "Netw3rk" Concepcion’s look back at his years of using Halo 2 as both an opiate and an anti-depressant has its dark corners—and while Kevin Lipe’s frustration at getting mopped up by impossibly difficult early-days Nintendo games and Steve McPherson's lonesome, literary experience of the post-apocalypse are very real—for the most part this issue is about its title: play, and what we get from playing video games. Nate Patrin finds escape in cars he can’t own, and doesn’t want to own; Tomas Rios, Christian Brown and Colin McGowan grow up with the help of some variously overstated video games; Greg Pollock and Jeb Lund and Joe Bernardi laugh along with the glitchy goofiness of lovably broke-ass games. And Evan Hall, Paul Franz and Jonathan Lazzara get deeper and more complicated appreciation for various games through their virtual experiences of them.

If there is something of a reality trap in video games, as Jeremy Gordon writes in his essay about NBA2K and how much realer video games can or should become, there is also and always the comfort of their unreality, and their defining dreamlike openness. There's no need to play the games to understand, really. They're a lot more like sports—or like anything else we use to get more out of life than we'd otherwise get—than I'd imagined, or ever understood.

Anyway, it's a good issue. The very awesome art you see above is by the very awesome Eli Neugeboren. The pieces enumerated above are in it. Get yourself The Classical App and get subscribed, or buy subscriptions or individual issues in non-iOS formats (PDF, Kindle, ePub) through our store, powered by Spacebox. Thanks, as ever, for reading and writing.

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