Why We Play Games Part 2

Why we​ Play Games,​ Part 2
Last week we​ started to​ get into the​ motivation of​ the​ gamer .​
We discussed challenge and its ugly stepsister competition,​ two of​ the​ most common motivators .​
Today,​ we​ look at​ two more on​ the​ way to​ forming an​ overall model for what moves us.
Perhaps less common than the​ first two motivators,​ creativity is​ nonetheless an​ important driving force in​ the​ gamer psyche .​
Though at​ first gaming doesn't seem like a​ particularly creative act,​ what with its formalized rules and structured systems,​ there is​ much more room for self expression than one might think .​
Some games play to​ this directly through unique presentations or​ artistic themes .​
Music games and many of​ the​ Sim titles are basically just expressive outlets that happen to​ be governed by a​ computerized system of​ rules .​
Other creatives find their outlet in​ multiplayer gaming .​
The modern MMORPG sports equipment and decorative combinations numbering well into the​ millions .​
The Creatively Motivated gamer takes pleasure in​ designing how their character looks as​ well as​ changing how they interact with their environment .​
Creatively Motivated gamers thrive when outlets are available .​
Anything involving a​ high degree of​ expression,​ decoration,​ or​ a​ large abstract component draws them .​
They wilt in​ gaming environments governed purely by numbers,​ and in​ those where presentation is​ extremely homogeneous.
Though we​ sometimes don't like to​ admit it,​ escapism is​ a​ motivation that lives in​ the​ heart of​ every gamer .​
By design,​ a​ game creates an​ inherently different world .​
Even games which have as​ one of​ their primary goals simulation of​ some aspect of​ the​ real world recast the​ player into some role they find more exciting than their own .​
Escaping into the​ role of​ adventurer,​ pilot,​ quarterback or​ even zookeeper provides motivation for nearly every gamer .​
Escapism Motivated gamers seek out games where the​ environment is​ rich,​ comprehensive,​ real .​
They thrive in​ worlds where suspension of​ disbelief is​ high,​ where they can lose themselves in​ the​ depth and complexity available to​ them .​
They gravitate toward role playing and simulation,​ environments where the​ world is​ rich and believable .​
They tend to​ avoid abstract games where the​ underlying reality is​ difficult to​ believe or​ understand .​
It is​ a​ strange sort of​ paradox that MMORPGS,​ with their incredibly deep histories and expansive worlds,​ are not as​ attractive to​ Escapism Motivated gamers as​ pure RPGs .​
This effect arises from the​ multiplayer aspect .​
Players talking in​ a​ public channel about out of​ game topics or,​ worse,​ about the​ mechanical and numerical aspects of​ the​ game world may well ruin the​ escapists experience and cause them to​ seek the​ company of​ non player characters or​ others who share their motivation.
Much has been made of​ the​ downside of​ escapism .​
a​ gamer who spends too much time in​ a​ world not their own can begin to​ lose touch .​
This sort of​ disassociation with reality can,​ and has,​ lead to​ all sorts of​ problems with work,​ school and personal relations .​
This does not mean,​ however,​ that escapism is​ itself an​ unhealthy thing .​
It is​ a​ basic part of​ the​ human experience .​
The reason we​ vacation,​ watch moves,​ enjoy sporting events or​ go camping is​ inherently escapist .​
As people,​ we​ are often unsatisfied with out lot in​ life .​
It's natural to​ seek out activities that allow us to​ experience something outside of​ our day to​ day .​
Gaming is​ no different .​
However,​ as​ gamers,​ we​ are an​ oft misunderstood community .​
We owe it​ to​ ourselves and to​ the​ world at​ large both to​ fight with information,​ by spreading the​ positive realities of​ gaming and gamer culture,​ and to​ fight internally against obsession .​
No matter how good a​ substitute for the​ real world a​ game may seem it​ is,​ in​ the​ end,​ only a​ pastime .​
Leave it​ once in​ a​ while.
Next week,​ we​ conclude with Social Interaction .​
Then,​ we'll move on​ to​ some sort of​ unified theory about all this.

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