There is something beautiful about the kind of storytelling that is found in video games. You can get lost in a book or a movie, but it isn’t the same level of immersion that you can find in video games. Games allow you to live the action instead of just witnessing it.
I think that is why most people play video games. There may be different reasons behind it, but at a basic level, video games provide some level of escapism. I know that I personally use games as a way to dive into another world for a period of time.
Ever since I started gaming a few years ago, there is one thing, in particular, I have fallen in love with when it comes to gaming.
I am talking about the power to make decisions.
The first two series I played through were Mass Effect and Dragon Age. I was floored by the impact my decisions had on how the story unfolded. I think that might be part of why I got so hooked on the games. There is something thrilling about being the only hope for the world in the face of some great darkness. Add on to that the fact your decisions can actually affect the outcome…it is easy to get sucked in.
These games force you to think about where you stand on tough issues. They put you in uncomfortable situations where you have to make a choice whether you want to or not. Many people say that the games punish you for making the “wrong” decision, but that isn’t necessarily true. They just force you to live with the consequences of those decisions.
Sometimes they even go so far as to back you into a corner where there is no “right” decision, but you still have to choose. Who do you save? Who do you leave behind? How do you decide between two bad options?
While these decisions can be incredibly difficult, even painful for players, they are important. They remind us that sometimes, there is no right choice. Sometimes, you can’t win. You still have to choose.
And it isn’t easy.
Video games have the unique ability to let you live through situations you will never have to face in real life. They make you tackle complex issues on a broader scale than most people would ever have to consider.
They make you take a long, hard look at your beliefs. They make you reevaluate your moral compass. The way you look at the world. They also put you in some really tough situations where one wrong decision could have disastrous consequences.
The interactivity of games, especially the decision-based, narrative-driven games, makes it feel real. That is why it is so easy to get sucked into the games. You become emotionally invested in the characters and in the world itself, which makes the lessons you learn feel so much more real. It also makes the consequences of your decisions that much more painful.
Games offer one thing, though, that real life doesn’t.
The ability to try again. To start over with a slate that is truly clean. You can play the hero, the villain, even a god in some cases. You can wreck as much destruction as you want or work to the best possible outcome. Then you can start everything over again, doing it differently. It is something you will not find anywhere else.
I will be talking more about this later, but until then…
Why do you game?