Monday, August 10, 2009

Video games-games of chance

As my millions of readers may have noticed, I haven't updated in awhile. Between illness and general work busy-ness, I just haven't had time to get around to it.

But now, I've got time. In my wandering miasma of pain and suffering from an acute case of tinnitus (which is also chronic) and sudden hearing loss in my right ear for the second time this year, I've discovered a few things about life. One, sucky shitty things happen at a moment's notice and for no apparent reason. Two, some really wonderful things can also happen for no reason (like my gf's bikini wax--totally out of the blue!). And three, video games possess another characteristic besides interaction that other artistic mediums lack: ADDICTION.

While some people might be passionate enough about a book, movie, or CD that they flung the object in question at a wall out of frustration when they fail to make sense of it, I can't imagine anyone continuing to try and retry reading or watching said piece of art. For example: I suck at Call of Duty games pretty regularly, and no matter how much I continue to suck, I just keep telling myself I'll win the next time. Suddenly it's 4am and my kill ratio has gone from .4 to --3, I've broken three controllers and am ready to smash a window with my PS3. I often look out the window and see six other people doing the same thing (I wish I saw six other people who even had PS3s...).

But with a book, I might suddenly look up and it's 4am because I've so thoroughly enjoyed it. Any hint of frustration and I'd simply have fallen asleep out of boredom. I wouldn't care because there's no competitive drive to read better. I'll read it when I want and at the pace I want. Or maybe never. Same with movies and music. Why are games so different? Perhaps video and computer games, especially the online ones where you're in direct competition with other people, are more like gambling, in that gamers believe their success is equally determined if not more so by luck than by skill. Certainly the rationale for continuing to play is the same--I'll win it all back in the next round. Just one more round.

So why are you addicted, if you are? What keeps you playing even when you are clearly lacking in skills and have no hope of getting better?

1 comment:

Sebastian said...

Ah, you are talking about a very specific sub-section of games -- multiplayer games of skill! (Not chance -- games of chance are bad, and illegal...!)

But yes, games can be addictive, just like gambling as you say, or -- more similarly -- sports!

Most games are single-player. Most games you simply compete with yourself.

For example, I would never be addicted to Super Mario Galaxy, even though I can improve by playing it more. There's a gap between enjoying something a lot, and addiction :)