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Why do we play video games?
Posted on Tuesday, August 9 2011 @ 17:45:54 Eastern

Why do we play video games? They are fun and entertaining. Well, yeah, duh. I know gamers play games for fun, casual players and hardcore gamers both play games for fun, but I’m asking about the other reasons we play games the more psychological whys and wherefores. I am not a psychologist, heck I don’t even play one on TV, but I am never the less interested in why we play video games. This little rambling monologue is entirely speculation and my own opinion, no research, no theories, no scientific method, no statistics, just little old me tinymhg, soak it in people, soak it in. So, why do we play video games? Excellent question.

They make us feel important. Where else in life are we the center of the universe? Only in games are we not only the masters of our own fate, but we become the masters of the fate of worlds. If we win good triumphs and all live happily ever after, if we lose evil is victorious and all hope is lost forever. In a game we become important, not just some faceless schmuck, but the hero, the real deal, the guy who saves the day. Oh, and by the way everybody and their brother wants you dead! Nothing can make a person feel more important than everyone wanting and trying to kill you. Aren’t you special.

Sadism: the enjoyment of crushing your opponents into the dust. Mwuah hah haaa! Sorry, got a little carried away there. I think as a species we humans are all a little sadistic, deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, mental and/or physical, upon those who would dare stand against us. Games can give us our fix of sadistic pleasure in a socially accepted way. Whether single player battling the “fiendishly clever” AI, or fragging and tea bagging in a multiplayer death match, we all get a guilty, or not so guilty pleasure from wiping out the other guy.

They give us the power and control we may lack in real life. Video games are all about power and control, if we play well we are in total control, if we play badly we must fight to regain control. They give us the power over life and dead, and that is a heady brew. While in real life we are often powerless and are not able to control everything we might like to control.

“Do you dream of applause? How about riches, praise, and the occasional congratulations?” Daniel Bischoff from The People Speak. Video games help to fulfill our fantasies. Fame. Wealth. Admiration. The things we wish we had in real life. Real life has more than enough anonymity, poverty, and revilement to spare, some of us suffer more than others, yet we all long for our fantasies to come true.

A sense of accomplishment. I did it, I finally beat [fill in game name]. Some games are harder than others, and that can feed our sense of accomplishment by making us feel we really did do something. And that is something I don’t think many non-gamers would get. Most people would say: “So what, you beat a game.” They do not get it.

They can make you feel smart. This is one of my personal favorites. Puzzle games, strategy games, or any game that uses tactics as a part of its game play will almost always make you feel smart if you’re winning. Yet those very same games can make a person feel as stupid as the AI in an 8 bit game if you’re losing.

They can be a ego boost. This one is a little more general and could be tided to other more specific reasons but I want to throw it in anyway. Leader boards, high score on an arcade machine, beating your buddy in PvP, or just about anything that makes you feel good about yourself.

Some masochists enjoy being beat and flogged by a game or other gamers. Getting pleasure by being humiliated, subjugated, or mentally tortured in game or in real life doesn’t interest me, but hey what ever floats your boat. Personally I think this is sick, but it is the only reason I can think of as to why some gamers keep going back to the abuse they get from certain games, on and off line.

To kill time. Yep, we play to kill time and to fight off boredom. I myself have slaughtered countless hours playing many different games. Today people play games on smart phones as they wait at the dentist’s office, or wherever they may be at the time. Face book games give people another avenue to waste their time, fight off boredom, or put off work.

To fit in. This is more of a reason for playing from our childhood than why we still play video games today. This may have even been the reason why you started playing video games in the first place. Childhood, especially the teen years, is about fitting in somewhere somehow. Video games can give a person a way to fit in when all the other ways are unavailable.

They allow us to recapture some of our past. Whether it’s Sonic, Mario, PC, console, handheld, or arcade we all have some fond memories of our gaming past. Maybe it was the joy of getting a console for Christmas, or finally beating that stupid boss and moving to the next level. What ever those memories are, I say go make some more.

Well, here is where I’m supposed to draw some sort of conclusion as to why we play video games. Aside from them being fun and entertaining, I think games give us something that is hard to find and hard to define. Since everybody’s different I think we each have our own reasons for being gamers and for playing the games we play. If you can think of a reason why we play games that I didn’t mention, or you think I’m full of it leave a comment. Have a nice day, bye-bye now.

 
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