Myst | The Game That Defines Imaginating Life

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Audio

Let’s go ahead and kick-start the audio for this post! We can’t go through this entire piece without hearing the wonderfully bombastic main theme for Myst — calmer tracks to follow.

 

 

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Hello, and welcome back to The Games That Define Us! We are six days into this amazing collaboration, and there has been so much positive feedback. Each of you reading this are amazing, and I’d like to give you a big “thank you!”

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today we’re joined by the talented Amanda from Imaginating Life! Like me, she’s both a graphic designer and blogger, which is always a great combination. You can check out her amazing design portfolio — her use of color is on point! You should also check out her fantastic blog post, It’s Dangerous to Go Alone – My Thoughts on Depression, when you finish up here.

Let’s get started, then, with Myst — the best-selling PC game until The Sims! We hope enjoy discovering this chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

Amanda May @ Imaginating Life

Twitter: @ImaginingDesign

For the ages.

Game: Myst
System: PC
Release Date: September 24, 1993

1P Start

The memories formed when we were playing Myst I still hold dear today. Though my mom is no longer in this realm to reminisce about the good old days of PC gaming with me, or to help me create my own game in the future with her programming expertise, Myst continues to inspire my love of gaming.

When I was a kid, I loved reading fantasy fiction about far away mystical magical lands. Anything that sparked my vivid imagination was inspiring to me. I would even invent my own mystical magical lands. I enjoyed sketching them out, and would create stories around them in great detail, filling up notebook after notebook.

When my mom bought our first home PC for the family back in the early 90s, I began to shift my focus from imagining fantastical tales to game strategizing and connecting patterns. I was all about some Space Invaders, Pong, and my favorite, Tetris. On DOS. Yup.

Later I would go on to play such “innovative” games as Hero’s Quest, Lemmings, and Fable (the 90s DOS adventure game, not the 2004 version on Xbox — totally different games!). My mom was a computer programmer after all, so she also encouraged learning about computers, and would even involve me in the process whenever she would upgrade our computer — yes, my mom actually built computers!

But the real “game changer” (pun totally intended) came when Mom bought a new PC, upgrading us to Windows 95, and purchased the game that would eventually be the standard I would hold all future games by. That game was Myst.

Myst was, at that time, cutting edge and revolutionary. It received high praise for its amazing and detailed graphics, unique storyline, and beautifully composed soundtrack — all ahead of their time by industry standards back then. The soundtrack was of particular interest to us, as my mother was herself a pianist and composer, and would often sit at the piano recreating the game’s music. I always enjoyed listening to her play. But I would go on to remember this game for another reason: it was the first game, and first activity in general, that my mother and I truly bonded over.

In the mid-90s my mom had become disabled, and had to step down from her corporate job as Sr. Computer Analyst, a title she was proud to have at that time. Though pain and restriction of movement limited her, she did have more free time to play games and watch movies with myself and my brothers. Myst, though, was our game — just Mom and me.

This in-game merger of fantasy worlds with strategy and puzzle solving led me into a new phase of creative inspiration that was the start of my interest in game design and, later, web design. I started filling up notebooks with not only new fantasy world sketches and story lines, but also images of my own puzzles and actual dialog between characters I had created.

Mom and I would play other games like the Myst series between releases, such as Obsidian, 7th Guest, Shivers, Qin:Tomb of the Middle Kingdom, and Schizm: Mysterious Journey, which would all inspire even more sketches and descriptions of game mechanics. (By the way, if you ever get the chance to play Obsidian you’ll be in for a real challenge! It’s my second-favorite game of all time after Myst.)

When it was time for college, the schools nearby that I could afford on the state scholarship I’d received sadly did not offer Game Design or Game Development as part of their curriculum. So I settled for a dual major in Web Design and Visual Communications. But I kept up my dream of creating my games someday. Having a programmer for a mom was also super helpful in my studies too, especially when I started working with animation scripts like JavaScript and Flash. (I know, it’s an obsolete skill now. One day I’ll find time to sit down and sink my teeth into Unity!)

The memories formed when we were playing Myst, and its many sequels over the coming years, I still hold dear today. Though my mom is no longer in this realm to reminisce about the good old days of PC gaming with me, or to help me create my own game in the future with her programming expertise, Myst continues to inspire my love of gaming. I’ve always felt proud to boast about playing the game whenever I’m included in a gaming discussion. Moreover, it helped my mom hold onto her sanity when she became disabled, and helped us to stay close through my turbulent teenage years and onward.

I believe our relationship was strengthened through our bond over Myst, and I will never forget those days. It was more than a game. It was a place of calm respite. A ray of hope. The beginning of my future career path. It was, and still is, the game that defined me.

And so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written.
~ Atrus, Myst

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Matthew // Normal Happenings

Matthew Estes. STL-based Blogger. Graphic Designer. Happily Married. One day I'll actually complete a book I'm happy with. I love pizza, video games, and using way too many ellipses...

4 thoughts on “Myst | The Game That Defines Imaginating Life

  1. I recently stumbled upon the Imaginating Life blog a few months ago when she posted about this awesome web tool called Habitica! So glad to see she was a part of this collaboration.

    I’m actually surprised that I haven’t played Myst since I’ve heard so much about it. I think it’s really neat she had such a unique experience, playing video games with her mom. Neither of my parents were ever interested in playing games which always amazed me since they purchased a lot of games for my siblings and I as we were growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I bought Myst many years after it came out but it didn’t work properly on my pc. This seems like a shame after reading this, what a beautiful piece.

    Having a parent who’s into computers is awesome and I can definitely relate to bonding with a parent over a game, it is a precious thing!

    Like

  3. Really beautiful piece, Myst was very much a game that “got away” for me. For some reason o never took the plunge to get it even though it always fascinated me when I walked by it in stores.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love stories about parents and their kids bonding over games. I’m surprised I’ve never tried Myst, but after reading this I’ve added it straight to my wishlist!

    Like

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