Gaming Beyond the Games

Let’s have a look at some of the more niche motivations that keep people playing.

To the uninitiated, gaming is, to put it simply, entertainment. Forget your essays, block out the noise, boot up, and go. Kill a few hours. But it’s pretty evident that gaming means so much more to many, many people, and the reasons people dedicate so much time to ‘playing’ is as varied from person to person as the titles they choose. So what’s going on? Why are people dedicating all their free time to the pursuit of what, on the surface, might seem like nothing more than a cheap pastime? Let’s have a look at some of the more niche motivations that keep people playing.

The collection of a series of games or games consoles may seem pretty weird. Shelves and shelves of plastic boxes slowly collecting dust doesn’t appeal to everyone. And, obviously, no-one could have the time to play, and complete, all of those games. But for collectors, playing isn’t be the reward. A collector may see a series as an evolution; a tangible history of progression from rudimentary origins to the masterful latest release. Video games are notoriously difficult to preserve, and collectors can try to have their own piece of that history. The problem with game history is that so much of it is inextricably locked to physical media, like cartridges, floppy discs, and CDs. And physical media inevitably decays. If collectors can get copies of physical cartridges and disks, and preserve them, then they’re making a valuable contribution to the preservation of an important archive.

Gaming has developed the unfortunate reputation of mindless entertainment; however, this could not be further from the truth for some gamers who partake in the pastime to stimulate or train their brains. While obvious titles like Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training may come to mind, a 2018 paper published in the peer reviewed Frontiers in Psychiatry suggests that even non brain training games provide excellent mental stimulation for cognitive and emotional development.

For some the fun of gaming is in the online multiplayer interactions it offers. Gaming online is an excellent avenue for socialising with friends or other gamers: to some this provides more stimulation and enjoyment than playing the games themselves. These gamers may not care if its sports or a shooter, only that they are hanging out and having a laugh. During the dreaded lockdown, the only way that I kept myself sane was by hopping onto Call of Duty: Warzone with my mates.

Games, particularly of the RPG, MMO, and fantasy genres, provide the escapist gamer with countless hours of entertainment. This vast experience of a characters life and activities offers a world without the stress and consequence of real life commitments or troubles. Many gamers, after a day of work or education, come home and switch on their title of choice to get away from it all for a few hours.