Everyone has their vice, their little way of escaping this reality, and for many people this vice is in the form of manipulating a pixellated world. If we look at the absolute definition, then technically anyone who picks up and plays any type of game is a ‘gamer’. But the true gamers are those that when a disaster hits their houses, they run and save their favourite consoles from the flames, water, ice or bees.
But why do people game? Why are gamers constantly drawn to new games and why do we spend millions upon millions of collective hours in our digital world?
Our Wondrous Realms Of Possibility
While the real world can have its wonders and truly remarkable sights, they sometimes can never match the realm of imagination that video games create, and as such, gamers place their headsets on and focus their eyes on the screens, as vivid colours and images flash out at them. Growing up I was always told I could be whatever I wished to be and with video games I have been more than I could have dreamed when I was just a child (I mean I am still a child but much bigger). From exploring the vast continent of Skyrim and battling dragons, wizards and bandits, to rescuing the realm of Pandora from an ancient evil or even becoming the one true Pokemon Master (yeah I said it), I and many other people who have ever been drawn in by the digital world can live out our wildest fantasises we never knew we had (like in the Sims, I have a job!).
Everything we could ever want is at our fingertips and with a quick change of a disc we slip into a new role, a new skin, a new world. From a magic wielding sorcerer, to a champion formula one driver, to a soldier and even to a mushroom-high plumber with aspirations to rescue a princess from a fire breathing turtle, gamers can be them all in a blink of an eye. It’s an escape and it is beautiful.
The lore of a game was going to come up (I am a total lore fanatic) and it is paramount to the experience of many gamers. When you pick up a game, you see it at face value. Maybe you heard good things about the way it plays or you like the look of the design, but a big part of what makes a lot of gamers stay is the knowledge you uncover within the game. The backstory that draws you deeper into the world and leaves you wanting more. The sign of passion from a gamer is that their mind is always drifting back to the very same game or games, much like a summer love. As you are engaging in your tangible reality your mind is attempting to solve puzzles (Legend of Zelda had me confused a lot) and thinking about the lore, crafting your own stories where the backstory has only blanks.
Whether you like to admit it or not the lore in the game affects the immersive qualities that same game has. You begin to desire to learn more about the world and if you don’t, your virtual solace begins to feel almost one-dimensional and empty. Lore within a video game is necessary to drive you towards something and in many cases it is what permeates our favourite games, the games we all seem to get drawn back to and replay. The story is what a lot of gamers thrive on.
Time You Enjoy Wasting Is Not Wasted Time
But perhaps when you play games you don’t spend your time forming theories as to the state of the world. Maybe you just want to get out there and solve puzzles, destroy things or kill any enemies that oppose you, or even kill civilians (my Skyrim bounty is through the roof). Much like the games themselves, there are different gamers and we all want to do different things within the games we love.
When you discover something that you are semi-good at, it can further develop that love to new heights. You spend your free time building your skill and your craft, clocking countless hours watching your level go higher and the numbers you see when you hit something get even larger. There have been incredibly successful people in the field of video gaming, both in their development and their play but if you truly enjoy picking up that controller you have found a wondrous passion in video games.
It’s An Emotional Ride
It may sound odd but video games that illicit some sort of emotional response are what make us want to come back. Whether it be joy, anger, rage, sadness or a determined revenge oriented attitude, if a video game can take our emotions for a spin it can catapult it right into our memory and perhaps our favourites. Borderlands 2 did this rather well with the consistent well placed humour that eventually got a little darker leaving us with tragic deaths that resonated with both the players and the characters themselves. Seeing Angel’s cruel imprisonment, and especially Tiny Tina’s reaction to the death of Roland brought sadness or anger to the facade of the gamer staring at the screen.
Emotion within video games causes the very same video games to be multi-dimensional, and in the same breath, it sucks the player in, makes them invested and rolls them with the events of the world without them ever leaving the comfort of their homes. I for one, still think about the tragic fates of Noble Team in Halo:Reach and how they each went down fighting for a major cause. This was not a story the player could win but we tried anyway, we fought with determination, passion and a little sadness and little by little we became part of the game we played. This is how it is with all great games, the player becomes invested and instead of the player playing the game, the game plays the player.
A gamer may be someone who plays any game from an app on a phone, to a PC game to one on a console but the true gamers, whoever they may be and whatever they may do within the digital world they inhabit are those that have an overbearing passion towards those coded worlds. Passion that causes them to be as much a part of a myriad different pixellated universes as those same games are a part of a gamers life. Gaming is not just a hobby for many people, it is a lifestyle. And what a fun one it is.