If you were to ask someone what my passions were they would probably say video games and travel…
They might also say dogs. I spent three months in Nepal as a volunteer teacher and commented on most of the dogs I saw there, I seriously considered adopting at least two. By the time I was done, my students, my family members at my guest house, and the other volunteer teachers all knew I loved dogs. My dai (literally “older brother,” a term used to refer to a man who is older than you) would say, “Taylor loves dogs so much she has a dog in her house.” My students would point out their farm dogs to me as I walked through the village. I lovingly call my family’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi my son. Honestly, I could create a book all about the dogs I’ve seen while traveling (not a bad idea, actually).
Anyway, back to the initial point about two of my passions in life: video games and travel. They couldn’t seem more opposite from each other. Video games involve sitting in your house staring at a screen and living vicariously through the characters you’re controlling. Traveling involves physically being somewhere and living for yourself. Video games involve meeting a variety of NPCs who often say the same thing no matter which part of the map you explore, while traveling involves interacting with local culture and customs, all of which are unique. In video games you are exploring fictional worlds that you wish existed, when traveling you are experiencing places so amazing you almost can’t believe that they exist. Video games are a fairly recent form of media compared to books, movies, and television while travel has existed for as long as humans have been humans. Video games and traveling seem to be completely different from one another when you look at it on the surface, yet they tie together for me in interesting ways. While playing video games I’m reminded of my travels and vise versa. In fact some of my travel goals are partially inspired by video games.
It might sound a little delusional or out of touch to say that my adventure goals are inspired by playing video games, but it’s the spirit of these games that inspire me to travel. Video games are highly interactive experiences, even if it is not a choice based game where the ending is affected based on game play (i.e. The Witcher, Skyrim, Mass Effect, etc.), you still play a part in the story coming to its conclusion by guiding the charter to the end goal. Because of how interactive games are, I quickly become invested in these stories. However there comes a point where you start to think, “I’m taking this character through such an amazing adventure, why not have one of my own?”.
I only half jokingly say I want my life to be like Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise. I mean who wouldn’t want to be like Nathan Drake and his friends? They travel around the world and go on adventures, looking for lost treasures, seemingly on a whim. It seems like the ideal life, aside from the fact that A. Nate and most of his associates are doing these things illegally B. There is constant gunfire from relentless enemies and C. Some of the climbing situations would make me shit myself. Nonetheless it is the feel of the Uncharted games that inspires my desire to travel. While playing the games you are exposed to amazing scenery and fantastic adventures. You see characters climbing up mountains, scaling cliffs, wandering ancient cities. While playing these games I feel like I too can go out and explore and see everything the world has to offer. The wanderlust the characters feel is contagious. The games have transported players to (heavily fictionalized versions of) Nepal, Yemen, Madagascar, Scotland, Italy, Panama, France, etc. The Uncharted series makes me want to keep adventuring. I have played the four games in the series multiple times and my love for it and the sense of adventure it inspires me hasn’t lost its spark.
After coming home from Nepal I felt antsy. I still feel antsy, I have been back only for a few weeks now and adjusting to my “normal” life now has been weird. I feel like everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. I look at pictures and almost can’t believe I was there in a place so great and now I am here doing things that are so mundane. Not that I didn’t do mundane stuff while in Nepal, it just didn’t feel mundane. If you’ve played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, it is how the main character, Nathan feels at the start of the game. He is happy and enjoying his “normal life”, but something is missing. For anyone bitten by the travel bug it is a relatable experience. Once you go on an adventure, you want to keep going on adventures. You can do other things, but it just doesn’t feel right. Once you do one trip, you have to start planning another one, an even bigger and more exciting one! While I can’t just go off on another grad adventure anytime soon (finances are a bitch), I can at least feel inspired to keep traveling by sitting back and relaxing with my favorite games.
The image used is my own, taken in Pokhara during 2017