Why Games Matter

Video games. Every individual at one point or another has had experience with them, and formed their own inclination regarding them. A study by Parks Associates titled ‘Online Gaming and Digital Distribution’, found that 135 million citizens in the United states play at least one hour of games a month. This number has shot up by 241 percent since 2008.

So with a huge percent of the population frequently exposed to games, it begs the question, why are games integral to society? What is it about video games that draws individuals to spend hard earned dollars and invest time within the medium? These questions would noticeably provide varied results depending on the personality of the being answering it, however there are several common factors which appear throughout diverse people.

Cast aside for a moment the proven physical benefits (increase in hand eye coordination, split second decision making, etc) and contemplate the sentimental/ psyche perspective of the discussion. The younger pre-teen generation of gamers may play simply for the thrill of violence to be sure. Nonetheless the fascination and impact of games transcends simple bloodlust. Once individuals mature and develop a greater understanding of themes and emotions, not dissimilar in their taste and cognitive depth relating to films, an emotional attachment can easily be made in the same way their favorite movie does. It becomes increasingly evident that a direct correlation lies between films and video games, as they are structured on very similar narrative principles.

Imagine your movie of choice, think about what aspects make it vital to you. Why do you love it? Most adults would suggest character development and story related responses. The writer has established the plot line and characters within to send you on their envisioned journey, and through it you may effortlessly gain an emotional investment and respond with the characters experiences.

This is the writers paramount goal, to create an affiliation with their audience. These connections delve deeper and are heightened within the gaming platform, as you experience their story with even greater intensity and depth. This is especially accurate within role playing games and dialogue choice experiences.

Consider that the gamer feels all the pain and experiences of the protagonist similar to films, however this time its first hand. The end result suggests that they are essentially living and breathing a storybook. Their own actions may be set on a narrative path by the writer, however this time they primarily control those movements and choices. This attachment is magnified when you personally struggle with your character through their physical trials, tribulations, success and failures as opposed to simply viewing it during films.

This connection will only increase with time. As technology grows, so to does the industries ability to covey facial expressions and body movement in a way that seems very lifelike. More notable voice actors are lending their talents and the narratives are only becoming more complex and intriguing. As a result, these connections will become even more plausible as time progresses.

The allure of becoming somebody else entirely (sometimes drastically differing from ones own personality and life) within a engaging narrative is a strong drive of the video game trade. In dialogue choice games, you can shape your character all the way down to responses and personality. Gamers gain an opportunity to experience different characteristics that they may wish to apply to themselves. A way to even become your polar opposite in a controlled environment.

Research done for the Psychological Science journal has found said ideal altering is a strong motivator for games. Dr. Przybylski suggests what makes games so compelling is “it gives people the chance to think about a role they would ideally like to take and then get a chance to play that role”. Keeping that study in forefront, it becomes perceptible that games provide a happy medium between virtual reality and films to some extent.

Individuals can literally become anyone they wish in any world desired, but still adhere to the principles of the writers narrative structure. This ‘trying on’ of personalities provides an understanding as to why games help provide relief from the stress of every day life. As Einstein himself once suggested, fantasy is as important to him as abstract thinking. The importance of imagination is quite a common discussion point amongst scholars and poets indeed.

Although every life is unique, practically all individuals experience coinciding events. Failure, we can all relate to this disappointing emotion and situation. Regarding this aspect of life, video games can teach an invaluable life lesson to those who become accustomed and exposed to its structure. Games follow a very simple and inevitable framework concerning its gameplay. You live, you try, and you will ultimately fall several times before succeeding. Despite this you are encouraged to dust yourself off and have another attempt at success, contemplating what mistakes lead to your calamitous position. This is one of several intrinsic points of games is it not? To challenge and implore cogitation?

These aspects of gaming, (failure, trial, learning) are all integral elements involved in life. Therefore it becomes clear to see how such a lesson taught by games can have real life application. Nothing is certain when life is concerned. If you shoot for the stars with your ambitions you will often land flat. Be that as it may, it becomes increasingly evident that these failures build the foundation for success and character in individuals. These defeats help shape and test us in our ability to bounce back. As far as games go, this skill of overcoming setbacks is a necessity. If the capability to shrug of failure is acquired playing games, how much easier will be to cope with loss in sports? Or education? Or even life in its entirety? To teach not only survival, but also to get back up and persist until the significant goal is reached. A vital lesson passed on in which gaming becomes your tutor.

With these discussed advantages kept in mind, becomes easy to understand why such a vast percentage of the population in America play video games on a regular basis. Why play video games? They provide benefits not only is physical aspects, but numerous perks regarding cognition and imagination. Such assets like stress release, life applicable skill sets, and heartfelt connections, can help lead individuals toward a more healthy and constructive lifestyle. In the end, don’t we all crave such lifestyles?


Thoughts? Agree with my ideas?
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Cited journals:
A. Przybylski et al. The ideal self at play: The appeal of videogames that let you be all you can be. Psychological Science, 2011

Market research by:
Parks Associates, Online Gaming and Digital Distribution