Why Play Video Games?

Video games have been around for many years now, from Pong to Mario Bros. to Skyrim; they have captured our imaginations and, for some of us, have been a part of daily life for as long as we can remember. But why do we play video games? I recently posed this question to my followers on Twitter. Below are some of the replies:

For some lure of video games is to escape into a world where you be and do anything. For others, it’s a coping mechanism for when the real world gets. And still others, it’s purely for fun. All of these, of course, are valid, and it’s not up to anyone to tell other people why to play. Whether you’re male or female, video games are there for everyone.

For me, video games are something that I think I will always rely on in times of crisis or even just downtime. Each game has a different effect and purpose, and it depends on the way that I’m feeling as to what I will play. For example, if I’m feeling down or I’m unable to concentrate, I might go back to some old favourites like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I’ve played that game so much that it doesn’t require much thought, and no matter where I’m up to, I can jump straight into my saved games and play until my brain feels better. If I’m feeling angry or upset, then I might try something like a shooter a la Bulletstorm. Again this doesn’t really require much thought, but it’s something that I can take some of my frustration out on without externally expressing my emotions. However, I play a lot of games for the experience as, at a base level, this is what all games are. They are an experience to be enjoyed (if frustratingly at times. I’m looking at you Crash Bandicoot) and are designed to stimulate you in the same way as movies or books – some games now are pretty much a cinematic experience, for example, Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human. This is made all the more true by the graphics capabilities of systems these days.

I’ve played video games for most of my life, but my tastes haven’t always stayed the same. Like the games themselves, my tastes evolve over time. I used to love playing side scroller platformers and shooters, but now they tend to infuriate me more than anything. I’ve historically been really bad at finishing horror games, but recently I’ve been able to play them without any issues – maybe I’m getting braver, I don’t know. Likewise, my reason for playing them has changed. When I was younger, I would play them mainly for fun, I didn’t have the same worries and whatnot back then, so there was no need to use them as a coping mechanism. Whereas now, as I said above, I play them for many different reasons. And in the future, my reasons will probably change again.

If there were no video games, then I would probably turn to something else to get me through tough times, perhaps books. Whereas as much as I love books now, they will always play second fiddle to video games. Both for the effect they have on my and the experience that I have while playing them.

There are many different genres out there, so there is something for everyone, but I perfectly understand those people that choose not to play them. Maybe they don’t have time, or just don’t want to and prefer to do other things – God forbid, outside! The fact is they’re not for everyone, and that’s okay. I see a lot of things being thrown around these by people who think that if you’re a gamer, you should play all the time, or you should/shouldn’t like a particular game (but let’s be honest, Call of Duty is a bit wank), Or that if you don’t game at all, then you’ve got no right to an opinion on anything. This is what I like to call “bullshit”. Game or don’t game, it’s up to you, and if you do, it’s up to you how you play them and why.

Gaming is a hobby. Enjoy it however you want.

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