Why Are Video Games Appealing? (As Explained By An Enthusiast)
Probably the most obvious reason video games are appealing is the graphics. From the beginning of video gaming history, we have been fascinated by CGIs (computer generated images). But long gone are the days when the greatest gaming advancement was considered to be the ability to move in more than three directions (left, right and jumping). In the modern world of the Playstation and Xbox, graphics have taken on an unprecedented realism. In my opinion, the Playstation 2 and Xbox introduced us to the world of realistic 3-D CGI and animation. I was lucky enough to own both when Fable for Xbox and Devil May Cry 3 for Playstation 2 blew almost every other game of its time out of the water. For those of you who were too young to have witnessed the change or were either simply uninterested in games or too busy (with something crazy like a job), I would compare it to art, whereas high school sketches are pre-Fable and Devil May Cry 3 while graphics once those two were released are masterpieces. High school sketches are cool and fun in their own way, but a masterpiece is stunning. This became even more true with the release of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Not only have graphics since 2006 become absolutely beautiful, or perhaps because of it, they are also immersive. Never in the history of mankind has a genre more perfectly allowed someone to not only visualize a fantasy world outside of dull reality, but also make them feel like they are actually a living part of said world. As neuroscience expert Ian Mahar puts it, "You're literally putting yourself into the game; i.e. your thoughts, appearance (however you'd like to project it as in-game), emotional and behavioral responses to story events, etc, all within a fictional context. This can apply to avatar characters, by the way, in which the player-character doesn't resemble the player themselves but rather a character the player chooses to identify with." With the ability to so completely escape reality in favor of doing anything you choose to do with no pesky real-world consequences to deal with (such as police), who wouldn't want to spend hours and hours roaming Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III running over pedestrians? Video games have been able to immerse players for a while now, but with graphics so realistic that they are almost movies, the immersion feels so much more real. For example, (Spoiler Alert) in Fallout 3, your character meets a guy in a suit in the town of Megaton. He offers you a sum of caps (currency in Fallout) in exchange for planting a detonator charge on an undetonated atomic bomb located in the center of town. It was a surprisingly hard decision for me to make because I swear I felt an actual attachment to the citizens of Megaton. I ended up deciding to do it and felt like a murderer. It looked almost like an actual nuclear bomb blew up, which made the heart-wrenching decision worth it. Modern graphics allowed me to be so immersed in the post-apocalyptic world that I felt actual shame for killing innocent pixels and also allowed me to move on due to the sheer beauty of the explosion.
There are two different versions of social gaming. The first one is the multiplayer option in most modern games. While multiplayer gaming existed before modern gaming, we owe it's exploding popularity to the Xbox 360 and PS3. With more readily available network capabilities, access to wireless multiplayer gaming is dominant. According to Games Industry, 72% of gamers play online. We owe a majority of this incredible popularity to a little series of games known as Call of Duty, one of the most commercially successful games of all-time. As almost everyone in the United States knows, Call of Duty is a series of war games that broke through into the multiplayer gaming realm with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. So what makes this game stand out in the online gaming world? In a word, teamwork. The multiplayer is perfect in it's simplicity. By far, the most popular is Team Deathmatch. It pits two teams of up to six players each against each other. The object is to be the first team with a certain number of kills. What makes it so advanced is the degree which you can customize your characters. With 33 different primary weapons, 8 different secondary weapons, 12 different grenades, and an almost endless combination of perks and attachments, it offers players the ability to make their characters unique. The true value of it all comes into play once the game starts though. Or any online multiplayer game. When players work as one team to reach a common goal, they feel like they are truly part of a team. This hits close to home for a lot of players, mainly the younger ones (which is the main consumers and players of the Call of Duty games) because this may be their first real experience of feeling like they are a part of a team that benefits from him/her being a part of it. They feel like they belong. I'm not a psychologist but I know that's a good thing for a vulnerable teenager's self-esteem. Along those lines, multiplayer games tend to create friendships between people that are normally socially awkward. I see it happen all the time; Two people randomly meet and then become battle buddies for the remainder of the time they are interested in that game. Games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft even have clans people form. These clans are essentially big groups of friends. Once again, it makes players feel like they belong. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have social games. These are the games ending in -ville (Farmville, Cityville, Villeville...) These are games that cost very little to make, cost almost nothing to own, and are vastly addicting. The appeal of this genre of game is that it's not meant to be played for hours at a time to achieve your goals. It's a game designed for your average joe who doesn't have the time to commit to hours of open-ended gameplay. They can check the progress of their crops, harvest said crops, plant a few more, maybe build a building and go about their day. The genius part is, they incorporate having friends into active rewards towards the game. So, despite what anti-gamers say, us players actually DO have friends AND make them. Ha!
Facts About Gaming
•47% of gamers are now female
•Revenue from gaming industry now surpasses movie industry and is projected to pass the TV industry in a few years
•48 million people play games on smartphones and tablets
•Average age of a gamer is 34