Sunday, 15 January 2012

I am me because, not despite, games

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fish[2]I have been wondering something. Have, after many years of playing video games, they had a good or bad effect on me? I have been playing games since I got a Commodore 16 for one Christmas with a copy of Centipede. I must have been approximately 8 or 9 years old.

This thinking had been inspired by a book I got for Christmas, Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, which explains how games have a positive effect on us and how game design ideas can be applied to the world as a whole. The book so far has been pretty interesting, if a little only the dry side, and I can see me in a lot of the positives that come out of gaming, however there is one thing that really stands out.
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That is that games can help the introverted be more socially active and open. This may come as a surprise to you that this blogger is actually, by nature, an introvert. I don’t crave attention, I don’t have that many friends and I struggle to to make connections with people that some others do with ease. And yet here I am, telling you all, perfect strangers, about my weaknesses and foibles. The more I think of it the more I believe that games have truly helped me be a, if not a better person, then certainly a more sociable one.

Previously in social situations it was always a case of people would have to approach me to start a conversation, but that has changed over the years. I think that, despite it’s many flaws, my time in WoW really helped. Being in a guild, sitting on ventrilo, trying to communicate with people I have never ventrilospoken to before, it really made me open up. I am grateful to games for that.

The other thing that struck a cord is satisfaction that comes from gaming. That sweet moment when you get a little swelling of pride and joy when you complete a level, beat a boss, finally manage to destroy a tank with C4 in Battlefield 3 (ok the last one is personal to me). I think as a gamer I have somewhat come to take that feeling for granted, even though it was good emotion. Obviously this feeling can occur from all sorts of lesiure activities, but when I look at people I know, like my in-laws for instance, they must only get that feeling 2 or 3 times a year, me I get it on a nearly daily basis. Heh if gamers can be said to be addicted to anything it is that feeling.

I think games have definitely made me a better person, more sociable, more intelligent and more fulfilled. There are those that might say the satisfaction I get is a false one. To them I would say I would rather be false happy than real unhappy.

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