Why do we play video games?
Unlike a lot of people who grew up playing video games, I only got into gaming as an adult. The first one I fell in love with — the one that made me a gamer — was Dragon Age: Origins from BioWare. I loved its rich characters, focused storytelling, and role-playing opportunities. The fact that I started playing it on my birthday one year only makes it feel even more special. Now, I play it every year on my birthday, as a tradition and chance to reminisce about how video games have changed my life.
But why get into video games as an adult? I can think of a few reasons, just in time for Listmas!
If you don’t know about Listmas, it’s a list-making party started by writer C.T. Murphy awhile back. Every holiday season, bloggers are invited to participate in creating lists about anything they like. If you want to give it a go, tag your list with “Listmas” on social media — we regular Listmas-ers like to spread the love by sharing (re-blogging, re-tweeting, etc.) these themed posts.
I Game Because…
It’s a Way to Unwind.
Video games can be efficient diversions from the stresses of real life. And we all need that. Some hobbies are too slow-paced to really let me “switch off” — I might get distracted thinking about something, or a commercial break happens — but video games are very immersive. I get so absorbed in what I’m playing, I forget to worry about my real-life stresses. The result is that I get to unwind at the end of a long day.
Video Games Tell Stories.
To me, video games offer the ultimate storytelling medium. You’re not just reading or watching a story — you’re in the stories. While some games are more focused on gameplay — such as a certain style of combat, platforming, or puzzle-solving — my favorites are the ones that do a good job of telling interactive stories, too. Like I said, Dragon Age: Origins has a compelling central story with memorable characters, which is exactly why I got sucked into gaming in the first place.
I Love Role-Playing.
Role-playing games are my favorite kind, because they let you create your own character or forge your own path through a story. This gives you a feeling of ownership over your adventures. Your in-game experiences are unique and personal — you may have your own character, your own moral choices, your own way of exploring. It’s exciting to be somebody else for awhile, and I feel even more immersed in the fictional world when I have some control over my experiences.
It Feels Rewarding.
You know that feeling of total, hard-won success after you defeat a boss? Or the smile you have when you watch the ending of an epic game you just finished? Leveling up, unlocking something new, getting an achievement for completing a game on a harder difficulty than usual — all of these make me feel rewarded for the time and effort I put into my games. It feels incredible to succeed, and we all need to feel good at something once in awhile!
I Like Playing the Hero.
I’ve written about this on Robo♥beat before, and I still think it’s true. Some video games give us a rare opportunity to play a hero. That can be very therapeutic. In real life, small gestures can do good, but video games exaggerate this so that instead of helping someone cross the street or giving a compliment, we’re saving lives. We’re fighting evil. We’re helping good triumph. It’s fun to play an epic hero like this, but it’s more than that, too. It’s also a nice reminder that we have good in us, in real life and in play.