Finding a reason for playing video games

August 13, 2008

For the fun” would be a common answer, but that´s just too general. At least regarding myself, ALL i do iis “for the fun. I have hobbies for the fun, i socialise with other people for the fun, i fall in love for the fun, heck, i even work for the fun that results from what i get for my work. So, if we can agree that “fun” isn´t a very precise answer, what is our reason for playing games?

Looking at portables, the reason is clear. If you´re on your way to some place, and you have to wait, be it because you´re too early or because you´re on train or bus, you have to kill time. Playing thus becomes the savior in front of approaching boringness. This can be the same with home consoles, if you´re waiting for someone to arrive or whatever, And whatever you´re about to do, playing is not your ultimate main focus at that moment. If you think about how many grown up gamers complain about lack of time because of their duties, killing time can´t be the reason to play when they´re sacrificing that precious time for playing a game.

This is where the big gap is created, the gap between those who play games for a short , temporary entertainment purpose, and those who try to get more out of the “virtual reality” in front of them. I consider myself to be part of the second camp, and that´s an easy choice, personally. Back then games have been pure entertainment to me, too. And if there was a month where no good game was released, that sucked. But playing games for experiencing an….well, an experience, is so much more interesting now to me. That´s why the two games that i loved the most in 2007 were Mass Effect on X360 and Endless Ocean on the Wii. The last one needs no further explanation. You literally explore an open ocean area, fullstop. One might say “why play such a game when you can do it yourself”. Well, i could not. I have no problem to admit that i´m really scared of the deep sea, and that “deep sea” isn´t even what experts would call it that way. And even when you couldn´t be hurt in Endless Ocean, the game scated me on oh so many occasions. Mass Effect just achieves the feel of a realistic future so well, it was awsome. I finished the game three times in a row, never happened to me before. You´re not simply following a premade story, folliowing a defined path. Every conversation is created by what you decide to answer, and even the game´s story develops differently by your own action. Of course, Mass Efect isn´t percect and i still want even more freedom. But as there´s not even an equal alternative, this game is great.

Having shown my personal examples, games as such are the very exception. Unfortunately, cinematic games with pure temporary entertainment purpose are in the spot light. Be it Halo 3, Final Fantasy or MGS4. And even the last Metroid Prime-game had traces of this kind of games in it. I guess it´s up to everyone himself which kind of reason he has to play. But there are definiely too few games that satisfy my escapism-needs.