As a gamer there is one question that I rarely ask myself outright, why do I play games? I consider why I want this game or that game, I question what console I want to play on and I even wonder why I like characters. I seem to take my reasoning for actually playing games as a given. However, Brink of Gaming wrote about this very subject back in March and it sparked the realisation that there are a variety of reasons that I play games and some of these only exist at certain times or due to external reasons or influences.
I have discussed this topic before, however I mainly covered the reasons I would play a specific, although unnamed, game or games over reasons to play games generally. I also did a separate response on the one big reason that almost needs no mention (other than that post of course!). Therefore, let’s break down some of the reasons why I play games and maybe why you play games as well.
There is something deeply comforting about gaming. Where I have also been known to find comfort in a good book, a TV show or a film, gaming can provide a similar experience. I mainly experience this with regard to single player games, although I will touch in multiplayer later. I definitely have comfort games as well which provide that extra level of comfort and security. A comfort game could be something relaxing that you can take your time in where nothing bad really happens, for instance Stardew Valley, or it can be one that I’m so wrapped up in because I enjoy it so much that I just find it comforting.
If you ask gamers why they play games then I expect that a very popular response would be to relax. At the end of a long day sometimes you need some form of relaxation. I love games for this as you have a game for every occasion. For instance, if you need something to create in you have games such as Minecraft or The Sims, if you need something just to explore in for a while but then also follow some story then take your pick of any open world RPG. If you need a story heavy game, well there are so many choices. Each can be used when required to help you to relax in whatever way you need and the sort of relaxation and game can change every time.
Sometimes reality is just too real, too mundane or too overwhelming. Games can provide a safe place to visit where all your troubles can wash away and you can then get back to tackling whatever issues you have had. Of course the escapism can only work for so long and should not be used for everything, however it can be helpful from time to time. The best thing about escaping into a video game world is that you can be whoever or whatever you want to be and you can be better or more than you could in real life. Or you can go the other way and be really cruel within games, although I struggle to deliberately make “bad” or “evil” choices as I automatically want to do all the good things.
Games can provide a way to connect with people, either people you already know or new friends. Since becoming a (small) part of this gaming and blogging community I have made some amazing friends who I genuinely feel better for knowing. People have made friends through multiplayer games over Xbox Live back in the day or World of Warcraft guilds who they continue to game with or talk to now or similar. Sometimes you don’t meet people in real life who share gaming (and blogging) as a hobby, however online you can meet people who you just connect with. People who just get you in a way other friends who do not share an interest in this hobby can. When I want to gush about my excitement for a game I have this community to go to or somewhere to share screenshots from games I enjoy or my pleasure from a game filled with puns. Having a community who understand your love and passion is fantastic, and having people that you can get excited with when they are excited about something as well. The support that goes both ways within the gaming community is wonderful. Sure in the gaming community, and in gaming circles online, there are negative aspects but the main thing is you can find a place where you fit and where you feel happy.
To achieve something
Whether by getting another trophy or achievement, completing a level or completing something in game you can achieve something. This might not seem important to people, at least people outwith the gaming community, but the sense of achievement can give you a much needed boost when things in real life are tough. When I am struggling health wise, mentally or physically, sometimes I just need to achieve something and if I can’t manage something tangible I can visit a game and do something. If I’m stuck in bed ill, I can still climb the highest mountains or sail the seven seas in games and I could save the world or just have a good day on my farm. Then there are puzzle games. These are obvious games to see some achievement as finishing the next puzzle can quite often be a big achievement.
Games cover such a wide range of subjects and can be used to help people understand in ways that other media perhaps do not manage. Games can provide a sensitive understanding of death of a loved one, grief, mental illness and conditions that are not widely understood amongst other subjects. This sort of game can provide an insight above and beyond other media due to the phenomenal connection that the player has with the character on screen. This can be so well described and felt in an enjoyable way. It is truly special.
Of course there are educational games which are designed to teach players in an enjoyable way, however it is not these that I am considering. It is games where educational aspects are implemented and the learning comes when you least expect it. I loved how Assassin’s Creed Origins implemented Discovery Tour and I could walk through parts of Ancient Egypt and learn about different aspects. It was like I was there, getting a tour from a guide that knows it all and I could learn something new.
There are many reasons to play a game and whatever reason you have for picking up your phone, controller or venturing to your mouse and keyboard it is valid. Keep playing, keep enjoying yourself and keep playing in the way that you want to and suits you.
If you are not a gamer but know someone who is I hope you realise that games can cover such a variety of genres and can provide such meaningful experiences. There are so many reasons that someone chooses to plays a game and we would like you to understand and appreciate our hobby.
What reasons do you have for playing? Let me know in the comments.