Why play games?

As a gamer there is one question that I rarely ask myself outright, why do I play games?  I consider why I want this game or that game, I question what console I want to play on and I even wonder why I like characters.  I seem to take my reasoning for actually playing games as a given. However, Brink of Gaming wrote about this very subject back in March and it sparked the realisation that there are a variety of reasons that I play games and some of these only exist at certain times or due to external reasons or influences.

I have discussed this topic before, however I mainly covered the reasons I would play a specific, although unnamed, game or games over reasons to play games generally. I also did a separate response on the one big reason that almost needs no mention (other than that post of course!). Therefore, let’s break down some of the reasons why I play games and maybe why you play games as well.

Comfort

There is something deeply comforting about gaming.  Where I have also been known to find comfort in a good book, a TV show or a film,  gaming can provide a similar experience. I mainly experience this with regard to single player games, although I will touch in multiplayer later.  I definitely have comfort games as well which provide that extra level of comfort and security. A comfort game could be something relaxing that you can take your time in where nothing bad really happens, for instance Stardew Valley, or it can be one that I’m so wrapped up in because I enjoy it so much that I just find it comforting.

Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Joy Cons
The controllers are here

To relax

If you ask gamers why they play games then I expect that a very popular response would be to relax.  At the end of a long day sometimes you need some form of relaxation. I love games for this as you have a game for every occasion.  For instance, if you need something to create in you have games such as Minecraft or The Sims, if you need something just to explore in for a while but then also follow some story then take your pick of any open world RPG.  If you need a story heavy game, well there are so many choices. Each can be used when required to help you to relax in whatever way you need and the sort of relaxation and game can change every time.

To escape

Sometimes reality is just too real, too mundane or too overwhelming.  Games can provide a safe place to visit where all your troubles can wash away and you can then get back to tackling whatever issues you have had.  Of course the escapism can only work for so long and should not be used for everything, however it can be helpful from time to time. The best thing about escaping into a video game world is that you can be whoever or whatever you want to be and you can be better or more than you could in real life.  Or you can go the other way and be really cruel within games, although I struggle to deliberately make “bad” or “evil” choices as I automatically want to do all the good things.

Guardians team
Here’s the team

To belong

Games can provide a way to connect with people, either people you already know or new friends.  Since becoming a (small) part of this gaming and blogging community I have made some amazing friends who I genuinely feel better for knowing.  People have made friends through multiplayer games over Xbox Live back in the day or World of Warcraft guilds who they continue to game with or talk to now or similar.  Sometimes you don’t meet people in real life who share gaming (and blogging) as a hobby, however online you can meet people who you just connect with. People who just get you in a way other friends who do not share an interest in this hobby can.  When I want to gush about my excitement for a game I have this community to go to or somewhere to share screenshots from games I enjoy or my pleasure from a game filled with puns. Having a community who understand your love and passion is fantastic, and having people that you can get excited with when they are excited about something as well.  The support that goes both ways within the gaming community is wonderful. Sure in the gaming community, and in gaming circles online, there are negative aspects but the main thing is you can find a place where you fit and where you feel happy.

A line drawing of a PlayStation platinum trophy drawn by myself for Inktober.

To achieve something

Whether by getting another trophy or achievement, completing a level or completing something in game you can achieve something.  This might not seem important to people, at least people outwith the gaming community, but the sense of achievement can give you a much needed boost when things in real life are tough.  When I am struggling health wise, mentally or physically, sometimes I just need to achieve something and if I can’t manage something tangible I can visit a game and do something. If I’m stuck in bed ill, I can still climb the highest mountains or sail the seven seas in games and I could save the world or just have a good day on my farm.  Then there are puzzle games. These are obvious games to see some achievement as finishing the next puzzle can quite often be a big achievement.

12-03-2018_16-48-56.png

To understand 

Games cover such a wide range of subjects and can be used to help people understand in ways that other media perhaps do not manage.  Games can provide a sensitive understanding of death of a loved one, grief, mental illness and conditions that are not widely understood amongst other subjects.  This sort of game can provide an insight above and beyond other media due to the phenomenal connection that the player has with the character on screen. This can be so well described and felt in an enjoyable way.  It is truly special.

Work/life balance for dummies, a collectible from Spider-Man (PS4)
I may need this book for future reference!

To learn

Of course there are educational games which are designed to teach players in an enjoyable way, however it is not these that I am considering.  It is games where educational aspects are implemented and the learning comes when you least expect it. I loved how Assassin’s Creed Origins implemented Discovery Tour and I could walk through parts of Ancient Egypt and learn about different aspects.  It was like I was there, getting a tour from a guide that knows it all and I could learn something new.

Assassin's Creed Origins
A view in Assassin’s Creed Origins

There are many reasons to play a game and whatever reason you have for picking up your phone, controller or venturing to your mouse and keyboard it is valid.  Keep playing, keep enjoying yourself and keep playing in the way that you want to and suits you.

If you are not a gamer but know someone who is I hope you realise that games can cover such a variety of genres and can provide such meaningful experiences. There are so many reasons that someone chooses to plays a game and we would like you to understand and appreciate our hobby.

What reasons do you have for playing?  Let me know in the comments.

28 thoughts on “Why play games?

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  1. I’ve had a similar post percolating somewhere in the depths of my mind recently too. It came about as a realisation that I’ve perhaps made some assumptions about why I game that don’t actually hold up in reality. e.g., Games as an escape or a comfort — I believe(d?) that to be true. And yet when things ‘get real’ gaming time takes a nose dive.

    And I don’t just mean due to less available time. If that was the case I’d sort of take it as a given and not need to challenge my thinking on it at all. But even when the actual available time remains the same I just sort of… don’t.

    So this being the case, what do I game for? I don’t know that I understand it myself yet… But perhaps something will come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be interesting to find out what you discover about your own reasons. It’s strange that we can think something so clearly and then discover it is actually not true even about ourselves. Maybe there is a different, underlying reason as to why you game and that is still there but you can’t quite put the words to it just yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice post!! You definitely hit the nail on the head with all those different motivators! I’m definitely more a “relax” or “escape” gamer for those little mental breaks from the stress of the world, but I do also love a good challenge from time to time! I’ve recently been bouncing between the two by alternating Stardew Valley with Celeste. Also, I appreciate the shout-out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well you did inspire the post so had to make sure people knew what the original was. Very deserving of a shoutout as I’m so grateful that you sparked the start of this being written even if it was so many months ago.

      I know there are so many motivators and they can change or different ones can be more important or obvious at certain times. You are certainly bouncing between two with Stardew Valley and Celeste being on the go! Stardew Valley is so wonderful for just relaxing. I haven’t played Celeste yet (on my list) but I have heard so many good things and the fact that it is a challenge but a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Each of those reasons is applicable and thank you for writing about this! One thing that plays on my mind is time spent playing games: am I wasting my life away and could be doing something better with my time?

    If I’m enjoying myself at the time then it doesn’t appear to be a bad thing, but when I think broader over years and years I get worried about whether I will regret this later in life…

    It’s a scary prospect, at least for me, but you have to consider what you’d be spending that time on instead: probably watching TV is the answer! That certainly helps ‘approve’ playing video games in my mind but there’s still that nagging feeling of possible regret later in life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes your mind does just go to places where doubt comes in about anything you do.

      It’s important to remember that you are enjoying your time gaming. There is always the question of what the alternative would be. We never know what we would regret until later in life but I think it’s always worth remembering that if we enjoy it even for a few years it has been part of us. For instance I used to do several sports and I don’t know for various reasons but I don’t regret the time spent doing that or the crafts that I have long since given up.

      Doubts are always scary but I don’t think that this will be a big regret in the future and hopefully it won’t be for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow thanks, very insightful! It’s like having trust in your younger self that it was appropriate at the time and realising it’s easy to gloss over the details when looking back?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think I have ever been called or had anything I have said called insightful so thank you! I guess I am having trust in myself now regarding gaming and my past self about things I have done.

        Like

  4. Great post! I’m definitely with you on quite a few of these, but my biggest reason for gaming has always been to escape reality for a while. I wasn’t a big gamer until I got into World of Warcraft when I was in college, and it became a place for me to just leave all the yucky adulting stuff behind and have fun for a while!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Having somewhere to leave the adult stuff behind for a while and just have fun is always beneficial. Having a nice place to escape to and just enjoy is so good. I love going to games like Stardew Valley if I just need some chilled time out in a game away from all the adult stuff, but if I want something more action filled there are so many good choices too. Theres definitely a place to go (game to play) when you want to just have fun and such a wide selection available.

      Like

    1. There are so many wonderful stories to be told and found whether in books, films or games. It’s a very worthy reason to read/watch/play. Its particularly good when you find a game that has such an amazing story that you can’t help but dive right in to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this post is important to help people understand more about gamers and that we aren’t just moody teenagers or adults but that there are other reasons too! Great work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s a shame that that impression of gamers still exists. People sometimes don’t want to see the good parts of gaming because of old assumptions. So many reasons to game and so many games for every occasion.

      Like

  6. I think gaming is brilliant in moderation. I’m a teacher and a gamer, and I see so many students neglect homework, revision, social events, family time for gaming, it makes me sad.
    I have the pangs of withdrawal too, but I started gaming as an adult, so the comfort and escapism aspect of it was totally relevant and I’d learnt how to manage time. For the kids, I think they rely on gaming, therefore it becomes their stress and their lives.

    I wonder how we can keep promoting all the amazing benefits of gaming while teaching new gamers to manage the inevitable pull.

    What a great, thought-provoking post! I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Totally agree with you on your points! I love playing games because it’s (for the most part) relaxing. I have an appreciation for art, so every game has a different art style that I always like to observe and appreciate. I play games to also help me think faster on my feet. Besides being just entertained, I feel there are so many benefits to playing games. Thanks for sharing this post! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just found your blog and I absolutely love this post. Every reason you named is exactly right and I can so easily relate. Sims is my go-to and I could play it all day. I love gaming for all the reasons you mentioned. I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling so deeply for games that really do make a difference in my life. Being able to be whoever you want and express yourself is huge. Having experiences like no other is why gaming can be so much fun and freeing! Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I game for many of your same reasons. I’m a single mom sometimes it’s my getaway -me time. For some they relax in a bath I put my feet up and turn on a favorite game. I get to interact with other adults which IrL doesn’t happen a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Things on the XIIIth: August & September 2019 – Livid Lightning

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