From time to time I meet people who think that computer games are just a waste of time with no value. Usually those people associate games with ancient tetrises or supermarios, or with some maniac friends counterstrikers who isolate themselves from the real world losing the sense of time and of themselves. Various shootings in the schools of the USA make the situation look even worse.
As I am diving into this sphere deeper and deeper, I will share my opinion with you. It will also partly be the propaganda of gaming with a hope that it will prompt the interest in gaming culture and development, developers will start doing their job more seriously, and we’ll have more games of high quality in the future.
While talking about games in this article, I will mostly talk about video games, but won’t limit myself to that. In my opinion, party games, board games, mobile games, computer games, and playful life in general seem to be related, overlapping and complementing each other. I will look at games from different perspectives: entertainment, education, art, socialization, media, simulation, and job.
Not everyone accepts his days as gifts. Not all jobs are interesting. And even in the interesting jobs there are boring tasks that use your energy. After all people need to relax and run away from every-day problems. So people need entertainment.
People need experiences different from every-day life, stories, videos sounds, activities, and self-expression. Therefore, depending on the possibilities and personal choices, we go to clubs, cinemas, amusement parks, play TV games, and attend different competitions. Video games are one of additional forms providing storytelling and expression via video, sounds, animation and interaction with computer. Additional amazement is given by the newest technological possibilities to manage the system by motion, and to express the special effects not only by video and sound, but also by vibration and smells. Moreover there have been technologies developed to manage computer systems directly by brains through a helmet.
Games help you to reduce stress. Playing games, you can unleash negative energy on virtual opponents, not harming any real beings. The results in games can be achieved relatively faster than results in real life. Achievements release hormone Endorphin which gives the sense of joy. While playing more active partly computer outside games, adrenalin might be produced. While playing you compete with other players or with your own achievements. Excitement is felt. Sometimes it’s not as important to win as it’s important to communicate with each other and the game becomes an interesting way of communication where you don’t need to talk about weather when all the other topics have already been exhausted.
School is important not because it’s an obligation. And Diploma is not the main reason to study. It’s necessary to learn all your life. You need to improve not only professional skills, but also many others, so that you could survive personal crises as well as global catastrophes and also that we could create maximal comfort for ourselves and for others.
Games are an attractive form to improve some skills. Games train our brains to manage audiovisual information, interpret it, and react to it fast. The coordination of arms and eyes is improved. Many games tell stories, so many facts are created by imagination of the player as when reading a good book. So games improve imagination too. Diving deeply into a virtual world also increases the attention for one thing for a longer period of time. Every one of us has a sleeping genius and attention to one thing is a way to wake him up. Games also improves logical thinking: we experience causes and effects through them. Games prompt to overcome the difficulties, persistently doing the job till the end. Virtual 3D worlds develop spacial memory and orientation. It’s easier to find out where you are, when you get lost in a big city (proved by my own experience ). Games teach to learn to understand more difficult structures than the primary natural ones, for example the forking and overlapping of time, alternative worlds existing at the same time, mutating states of the characters, changing gravitation sources, etc. Active computer games and some mobile games train balance. After-all, the computer literacy is getting better.
Games causes their developers also to be interested in many different spheres. Games are some of the most difficult software products. Usually they are created by big groups of people specializing in different spheres, but the project managers should have basic understanding everywhere. The developers have to understand natural, social and humanitarian sciences and be creative. Besides programming, programmers should educate physics, geometry, 3D modeling, development of artificial intelligence, and user interfaces. Game developers should understand psychology to predict user movements, and sociology so be able to manage gamer communities. The story creators should predict non-lineal possibilities of the script (one beginning and multiple endings or multiple paths to achieve the ending). Sound creators should be able to adapt music to the mood of the moment dynamically like in movies, depending on the players choices. And this is still not the full list of spheres game developers should know. As I am mostly interested in independent games and I am planning to publish them myself, I need to be interested in advertisement and marketing too.
Self-Expression and Creativity
What is the point of art for a human being? We conceive the world through contrasts. The more arguments for different ideas or features we get, the more we choose how to live our lives. Art is a subjective artists view to different things. The more subjective ideas we get, the more objective is our point of view. A game can be a form to convey the viewpoint of its creators. The game becomes an indirect dialog between game creators and game players.
Game itself can be very creative, re-mixing other forms of art, such as photography, 3D arts, architecture, fashion, music, dance, or theater play. Games stand close to movies or interactive video installations at modern-art galleries or at night clubs.
The process of gaming can be creative itself while solving some logical problem. Sometimes instead of normal game flow, the player can use game resources in a creative way making their own pieces of art in social games. Also different modification tools allow to modify the games or create 3D animations called machinima.
Means for Communication
A man is a social creature in an animal body. Like birds we need to communicate.
Therefore, bars and clubs are full of people, we like home parties, we attend different courses, or use facebook. Games are one of the means to communicate with other people.
While playing we communicate both, verbally and non-verbally. By words we communicate when we play together or by turns at a console or with mobile phones. Also by words we communicate at the chats of online games. It’s been said that the bigger part of information is transferred non-verbally by body language. In games the nonverbal communication happens when helping each other to overcome obstacles, competing with each other, sharing or exchanging virtual goods.
Local-area-network games bring existing gamers’ communities together. Online games create communities in themselves. Also gamers usually have their forums where they can share experiences about the game.
There is a saying that a picture is worth one thousand words. I will extend it saying that a video is worth one thousand pictures, and a game is worth one thousand videos.
Games are strong media form getting much deeper into the memory because the idea of the game is conceived by practicing. A game can explain difficult things simply, clearly and visually.
One could compare video games to newspapers, magazines, books, comics, publicistic photos, movies and animations.
If the developers want to make an interesting game, they should be always on the cutting edge of actual things.
Safe Simulation of Real-life Activities
Even playful life isn’t a game. There are many difficult, dangerous or too influential spheres, where it’s better to avoid them, for example, martial arts, extreme sports, or stock quotes. Games can simulate risky situations enabling you to try them in a virtual atmosphere and experience just virtual awards and punishments and to decide later if that sphere is interesting for you in the real life.
We can start, pause and stop playing games whenever we decide. In real life, if you want to start something, you need some preparation (courses, studies, or contacts), and when you want to end something, you need to take others’ (family, colleagues, or clients) interests into consideration.
Virtual game world is always simpler than the real world. And you can feel as the manager of your own simple world, where all the rules are clear and all causes have clear effects.
The game can show you two different opinions letting you decide the conclusions which opinion is more correct as it’s done in discussions, debates, publicistic broadcasts and news.
Games can convey artificial reality: what would be if something existed or happened. One can be embodied as avatars of different profession, sex, race or even as things.
Simulation in games can also give profit to the developers, because modules tested on entertained players can be later applied in important software packages, for example, path search in the maps, artificial intelligence, user interfaces and so on.
Way to Get Money
Money is an important means in the nowadays world. Players can earn some money by gambling games or by selling virtual goods. But the most important from my point of view, that the games is the source of money for gamemakers.
The most games today are created for adults and the most players are adult people, not kids. That means that the most players do something in their lives to earn money which can be spent for entertainment.
There are many ways for game developers to get money, e.g. funding, donations, subscriptions, freemium subscriptions, box sales, in-game advertising, microtransactions, virtual currency, server leasing, and merchandise.
I gave you ideas, but no game examples. Anyway, I can give you some examples in the comments on request. The most important is direction what to achieve to get well developed game industry in the future with more open source and more collaboration, little by little, step by step.