Have you ever actually thought about why it is that you play games? Why do you like games of a particular type? Do they reflect on your personality, your interests, your aspirations, your morals, and ethics, or your intelligence? Is it an escape for you, a time killer, or something you do because it’s become a part of your daily routine?
We have studies to link video games and violence, video games and age groups, video games and economic circumstances, and yet there seems to be precious little evidence in regards to why gamers – from casual, iPhone tappers to hardcore, keyboard mashers – sink thousands each year on virtual experiences.
I try to think about the console games I play most – mainly FIFA, Madden, Battlefield and every now and then, perhaps a solid session of Gran Turismo. Does that make me a competitive, narcissistic brat? Does it mean I’m a socialite? Or just that I hate story modes?
Theory one – I’m a competitive, narcissistic brat. Certainly growing up I loved competing, I wanted to be the best; I was absorbed in being a professional athlete, in any capacity. As I grew older, my competitive urges waned, and while I still enjoy winning far more than losing, it is no longer the be all, end all in my life. I don’t think my gaming habits are a throwback to a former me, so I’m inclined to cross this theory off the list.
Theory two – I’m a socialite. As with most young men, I love to catch up with mates, have a few drinks, maybe dance (eye-gougingly poorly) to some white noise that my eardrums will berate me for in thirty years. However, less and less am I finding myself playing online. Sure, I’ll play game after game of FIFA against friends, but I do the same thing against the computer opponents. I don’t mind playing on my own, just as I don’t mind being in my own company. So again, I don’t think my gaming behaviours mirror my personality in this sense.
Theory three – I just hate story modes. Anyone looking at the games I play most would assume that this is the case – that I just don’t appreciate higher levels of artistic direction in many games. And while it’s true that I haven’t played Heavy Rain, I was totally absorbed by GTA IV and, despite having never played one before, Metal Gear Solid 4; so much so that I watched all of the cutscenes outside the actual game! While I enjoy story-driven games, I have found that rarely do I have two or three hour blocks I can totally devote to gaming, and hence struggle to become captivated in their world. Again, though, it has little to do with my appreciation for art or a well-told narrative.