Why we game?

A Life Well Wasted, episode three is up and asking the question “why we game?” It’s all good, of course, have a listen.

I’ve thought about my motivation for playing not just videogames, but games in general, for a great many times. Often it’s because I’ve spent a whole day gaming and feel maybe a bit shameful afterwards. Was that a good use of time? Did I accomplish anything? What did I actually get out of that? (Achievements.)

Because for me, “fun” doesn’t quite cut it, not anymore, not when all I do is games. Especially now that I’m working at a videogame developer, reviewing games as a gig on the side and playing games both alone and with friends, even most of my social gatherings being built around gaming – it’s pretty much all games, all the time.

There’s two things going on here. First is that I still like games for the same reasons I initially got into them: to discover and learn new things, to explore new worlds and to use my imagination. But using all of my time on this, in a sense, short-sighted recreation is not the core for me anymore. These days – and this has been going on for quite a while, probably since college – I’m more interested in games in general, as opposed to a given game. So instead of mulling over how an ability works in Fable II (which is what I’m currently playing, tonight losing a good three hours without realizing it), I’m thinking about what Fable II means in the bigger picture, what are its achievements in the genre and how I could learn from it. Why exactly am I so immersed in it? Does this affect on how I view other games?

So in a sense, I feel my love for games has matured. There’s a context, some method to the madness, something my now more demanding brain tells me is more worthy. Or, well, excusable.

And on the other hand, I find myself going back, towards the golden days of childlike, unshameful gaming of far too much, really. I made a return to pen and paper roleplaying games after an almost complete hiatus of a couple of years. It’s been fantastic and I’m really looking forward to our next game. I can feel parts of my mind waking up from a hibernation, imagination and improvisation skills kicking up again, taking four games to get back into gear and now I’m ready to really jazz it up. Roleplaying games rule, you know.



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