Why We Play Games Part 3

Why We Play Games Part 3



Why we​ Play Games,​ Part 3
In part 2 of​ this series we​ took a​ look at​ Creative Expression and Escapism,​ two significant motivators of​ the​ common gamer .​
The week before that,​ we​ covered Challenge and Competition .​
This week we​ have a​ look at​ Socialization and try to​ tie it​ all together.
Social interaction is​ a​ subject on​ which we​ gamers take a​ fair bit of​ static from our non-gaming peers .​
Sometimes this is​ because they mistake differing priorities for introversion .​
Wanting to​ talk about the​ relative merits of​ the​ Western Plaguelands against Winterspring as​ a​ post 55 grinding location isn't really any different from wanting to​ talk about the​ strength of​ the​ Bill's secondary,​ its just that one of​ them is​ relevant to​ a​ somewhat narrow audience (give it​ time.) Sometimes,​ however,​ the​ criticism is​ merited .​
We tend to​ be somewhat socially awkward folk,​ in​ part because the​ hobbies in​ which we​ invest a​ sizeable amount of​ our time have rigid rules governing most interactions,​ making them poor training for the​ free wheeling reality of​ human discourse .​
For some gamers,​ the​ Social Interaction found in​ the​ gaming experience is​ a​ primary motivator.
Social activity in​ gaming occurs on​ many levels .​
At a​ very low level,​ gaming can be a​ reinforcer for existing social groups .​
Think of​ a​ group of​ friends getting together to​ play a​ board game or​ some Half Life .​
The social activity found in​ modern online games can be much broader in​ scope .​
MMORPGs,​ to​ which discussion of​ the​ current state of​ gaming always seems to​ gravitate,​ are essentially groups of​ people that already share some primary common link .​
The friendships formed through online cooperation and friendly competition can be one of​ the​ biggest draws of​ such games .​
Anyone who has ever stayed up later than they should because their guild needed them or​ because someone asked them to​ has experienced this .​
These online relationships are no less real,​ no less significant than their offline analogues .​
They are,​ however,​ different.
The interaction that takes place within a​ game is​ structured and often,​ online gamers see only part of​ one another .​
It is​ difficult for a​ group formed around a​ particular activity to​ bond as​ deeply as​ a​ group of​ friends that exists solely for the​ purpose of​ supporting one another .​
To avoid turning to​ diatribe on​ not forgetting your real loved ones we'll stop following that chain of​ thought .​
The important thing is​ that some game players are purely Socially Motivated .​
Such individuals thrive online,​ where other players can be met and interacted with .​
For these people,​ the​ heavier the​ social component of​ the​ game,​ the​ better .​
Interestingly,​ many games with a​ high degree of​ social complexity also have a​ large amount of​ the​ mathematical complexity that may drive away socially motivated gamers .​
In pure form,​ this type of​ gamer is​ seeking an​ experience that blurs the​ line between games and chat environment.
Challenge .​
Competition .​
Creation .​
Escape .​
Socialization .​
Five different motivators,​ all of​ which combine to​ make up the​ motivation of​ a​ particular gamer .​
We could add more,​ certainly,​ but these will do for now .​
So where do we​ go with this? I'm having to​ physically restrain myself from drawing a​ pentagonal map and plotting individual gamers on​ the​ five motivational axes .​
While it​ would look neat and might be an​ interesting topic for an​ esoteric role-playing text,​ it​ wouldn't get us anywhere.
A more useful tack,​ perhaps,​ is​ to​ think about what motivates us individually .​
Knowing yourself and what drives you can help you figure out what sort of​ games you should be playing and,​ more importantly,​ which will never give you anything but frustration .​
Understanding the​ motivations of​ others can give us insight that will better help us relate .​
Many arguments over what to​ do in​ online games arise because the​ different party members are motivated differently .​
a​ Creative and a​ Challenger aren't likely to​ crave the​ same activities from a​ night of​ dungeon delving .​
Nor are an​ Escapist and a​ Competitive going to​ even speak the​ same way about a​ game .​
For one,​ a​ game may be a​ world waiting for his immersion .​
For the​ other,​ a​ game is​ a​ matrix of​ numbers waiting to​ be solved and conquered .​
We all have a​ little of​ each in​ us and if​ we​ can understand what drives us we​ can both better interact with one another and increase the​ joy we​ find in​ gaming.




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