This is something I have been pondering ever since I read Grand Theft Childhood (if you haven’t ever heard of it check out Eric’s excellent review of it, then go and get the book). In it they go over a number of the reasons kids gave them for why they play games, and it got me thinking about why exactly I game. So I’ve decided to try put them down here, as some people may find them helpful or interesting.
This is one of the reasons that seemed to come up a lot, and it is one I know is definitely true for me. My typical day starts at 3:35 in the morning, to be ready to roll out for work at 4:30. Dururing the school year I then head right up to school immediately after work, and the majority of the week I don’t get home from school until between 4:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon, which makes for long days a lot of the time. So it can be nice to grab my laptop, prop myself up with some pillows on my bed and just take 20 minutes or so to play a bit of Torchlight 2, or ME3 Multiplayer to relax after I get home. There are a lot of things that I do that help relax, from golfing to fishing in the summer, and skiing in the winter. But gaming is something I can do year round, and it isn’t dependant on what the weather is like outside like other activities are.
Anyone who knows me well could probably tell you that I am a very competitive person. I’ll play just about any sport out there, and if it’s against a person or people who are at or above my own skill level I’ll battle to the end. That’s why I enjoying playing things like COD multiplayer, even though I’m usually the worst on the server, I’ll still battle it out to the end. And it may sometimes boil down to me trying to compete against just one or two of the other players. I remember a couple of years back I was playing Monday Night combat with some of the EDG and Nerd Rage guys ( I know Eric was there, and I think John may have been there). We were mostly on the same team, with a couple of them on the opposing team. Now I’m not the most skilled at the game, so I ended up finding myself going after a guy from HCG who was in our group but ended up on the opposite team (I cannot remember who it was though). We both were taking the catwalks on top of the area, and we kept running into and trying to take out each other (I was playing a Assassin he a Soldier). From what I remember we ended up getting about the same number of kills on each other (though I do bellive I grapple killed him at least once more than he did on me). I may not have been the best at the game, but it was still a blast.
This sort of ties in with competing, but I always like a challenge something that puts my skills to the test, or pushes me to my limit. For example, a couple of years back we had a warm spell around the end of January to early February, which melted the runs at the ski hill I work at. Then when it got back to normal cold weather the runs were very icy. Most were able to be groomed out, but the hardest black diamond at the hill was so bad that they just took the groomer and tore it all up and respread the snow. The result was that the surface was now largely made up of chunks of ice and snow in the range of marble to golf ball sized pieces. The hill was already a harder one to ski, but this made it really hard, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the feeling of exerting every ounce of skill I had to keep myself on the right side of the line between staying on top of my turns and wiping out. It pushed me to my limit, and made me really work, which made it a blast to ski. The same thing is true with gaming. I love being pushed to the limit, whether it’s making a corner perfectly to keep the lead in a race in Burnout, or taking out a boss in Borderlands with barely any of my health left, or making a perfect combination of jumps and portal placements in Portal, I enjoy putting my skills to the test.
Also tying in with the last couple, I enjoying being the underdog in games. I love going up against overwhelming odd and coming out on top, whether it be surviving hundreds of enemies in COD, or taking on four wolves, four Joten and two Etten in KOA at a single time and prevailing. It ties into the challenge part of it, that one man against hundreds mentality. And the vast majority of games out there are you, or you and a few of your friends going up against tons of enemies, which definitely draws me at times.
Working Together/Playing With Friends
Co-op is another aspect that draws me to game. Back when I was actually able to game at night I played quite a bit of Killing Floor with the Nerd Rage guys. I’m not really a fan of zombies, but I loved the working together to fend off the waves, and how each class had a certain role to play. One person would be the ranged guy, another would be the one who could deal a ton of damage to the bigger zombies, someone else would be the medic, etc. Even when we’d end up in waves where we would just get rolled, it was still a blast playing with them. If I had my druthers, I’d play multiplayer games with just friends (though my schedule now doesn’t really permit that). And while I don’t get to do it often, I always enjoy playing something like Mario Kart with my siblings, getting to compete against or work with them in the games.
To Seek Out New Worlds
I’ve always loved exploring, and if I could I would travel all around the world. This is another thing that draws me to gaming, there are hundreds of worlds out there in games that are just waiting to be explored. This can be pretty easily seen in what some of my favorite games are, ones like ME and KOA, that have huge worlds to explore and interact in. While I don’t especially like the way the way some of the gameplay is done in the Elder Scrolls games, I absolutely loved exploring the world in Oblivion, coming across beautiful vistas and quaint little towns. It feels alive, organic, like I could drive way back in the mountains somewhere and find myself there.
Experience New Thing
Finally, to experience things that I likely never would otherwise. I’ll likely never be a space marine, or fly an F14 Tomcat, but in a video game I can. I know it isn’t quite the same as if I were to really fly a plane, but it gives me an idea of what exactly it is like. And it allows me to put myself into stories in a way that books or movies can’t. Oftentimes when I’m reading a book I will try to imagine myself in the story, but this usually isn’t easy to do, as the narrative in most books will not have the leeway for me to easily picture myself in it. However, when playing an RPG I can make it so that the character is me. For example, when I play any of the Mass Effect games, I play them like it is actually me, making decisions that I would make, taking paths that I would take.
That sums up the reasons that I’ve come up with during my pondering, I’m sure there are more of them, and they may very well change as I grow older, but this somewhat sums up why I game at this moment in time, and hopefully may help you better understand what exactly it is that draws you to this great hobby called gaming.