"In most genres of gaming players can get their kicks from tormenting the poor virtual creatures weaker than them. Known as 'videogame cruelty potential,' this popular activity is a source of hours of cathartic release for many gamers. But one genre in particular excels at promoting user-driven comedy: god games. They give players the chance to be inventive while dishing out the pain on a broader scale and in greater detail than most other genres."
The Great and Powerful
"I was only 10 years old when I ascended the stairs to the upstairs den of my friend Jon's house. There was the common altar you'd find at all my friends' houses: a Super Nintendo and a television. Jon was furiously working to manage the tiny figures walking about and occasionally warring against each other. I asked what they were accomplishing, and he explained he was trying to increase the population of his faithful.
"As I looked on, the truth sank in. He was playing god."
"Find the least contacted community in the most underdeveloped corner of the world, and you will probably find kids with sticks playing with ants. The insect's charm is understandable. In ants, we find tiny but industrious creatures that work together to build cities and surmount obstacles far too great for the individual. We enjoy observing and meddling with these miniature societies, because in them we see our own."
"I can still remember my own first encounter, at a slightly older age than Miles' but no less formative: a vast shape waiting patiently, something big and flat, something else big and lumpy, with coils and lights. Someone guided my stubby hand to a lump and helped me whack it. I got the idea and whacked it again. Then ... the machine reacted! The big flat thing changed color! I whacked some more and it was clear - a connection existed between moving my arms and these wonderful explosions of light.
"I'm pretty sure it was an IBM PC, and it changed me forever."
"Super Mario doesn't believe in God."
"For all his magical items, heroic deeds and self-sacrifice, Mario knows - simply knows - that there is no external, mystical force shaping events and willing to intervene on his behalf. There's the player, of course, but he boots up the system and grabs the controller, the player and Mario are one and the same. Mario, and Mario alone, is the only person who can save the Princess, defeat Bowser and restore order to the land. No invisible, benevolent overlord. No God. And he likes it that way."