WORK-LIFE BALANCE / NOV. 13, 2014
version 6, draft 6

Can Video Games Show Us Who We Really Are?

Video games have evolved into grandeur cinematic experiences that envelope you in an immersive story and experience. In contemporary video games the story could even be unique from player to player, allowing choices made early in the game to change the outcome of the entire storyline. The game Fable took this president to extremes and introduced a morality code of good, bad and neutral and all the actions in the game either took you on a darker moral path or kept you on the straight and narrow high road. But can a video game show you who you are?

We’re social creatures, even if it does revolve around talking smack

Video games in the past were considered a solitary hobby; the guys with the curtains drawn with chip crumbs running down the front of his shirt. With the advent of online gaming though and online chat, gaming has become a very sociable environment. Even if it does mostly deal with the fact that your mother is gravitationally challenged (see fat)

When someone is having fun everyone wants in

Gaming was once a very exclusive, marginalized item, again the stereotype of the guy locked away now with Oreo crumbs running down the front of his shirt and energy drink cans strewed everywhere has almost ceased to exist. In recent years, video games have become much more popular and mainstream. If we hear someone laughing we want to hear the joke too, if someone’s having fun we want to have fun too. How do you think social drink came about in our ancestors?

Escape does a mind good, because reality kind of sucks

Yes, we’re all a little escapists at times. Even if it’s not horrible, life can get a bit monotonous, day in day out to work, back home, eat, sleep, shower, wake, eat, shower and shave. You turn on your game console though and from a mid-mannered office gopher you become a dangerous gun for hire, a hero, a soldier, a fighter pilot or a mystical being that can bend the world it to its whim. Video games allow for impulsive action, for expletives, a release from the confines and taboos of society.

It promotes creative problem solving

Contemporary games allow for a massive amount of user input and multiple approaches to an obstacle or challenge. With a set of tools that are just restrictive enough, it keeps the challenge engaging but simultaneously allows a sufficient margin for the task to be approached creatively. It creates an environment that non-linear and divergent thinking is rewarded unlike many real world circumstances.    

We like to win and be rewarded

Unlike the real world in many cases, meaningful labor in video games is rewarded. As a task is completed often repeatedly, the person playing will be rewarded in skills or assets. Also it is done with a meaningful and enjoyable investment of labor, which is completely absent in many real world scenarios.

Everyone likes to be part of a group of his/her peers

This last point might be slightly lost on fair-weather gamers, but most people that have been playing video games for most of their life will recognized certain insignias of a life spent in the virtual world. The banker with a decorative lapel pin for a now famous game, or the designer that hides a game specific reference in one of his printed ads. Since the beginning of the modern world we have grouped together and still to this day we seek a bond between people of common interests, wants and needs.

See also: How to Stay Away from Video Games when Unemployed

Inevitably video games are here to stay and every day there are more and more converts to the virtual world. If you have an opinion about games but have never played them yourself, I would like to ask you to reserve your judgments and give gaming a spin. I guarantee you will like them a lot more than you would ever expect. Are you a fair-weather or hardcore gamer? If I missed something that you would like to add go ahead and do so in the comments below!

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