What do you think of when you wonder WHY people play video games? Some assume it a cure for boredom- others a retreat for the socially inept. It may constitute leisure time or lazy time or, especially in my case, a social time. I am a social person. This is true. When I play video games (for the most part) it is a part of or included with some kind of personal interaction- this is what has attracted me so to online games: a seemingly infinite amount of “personal” interaction when it’s usually not possible to be active socially (ie 4:00 am). Sometimes I log on and simply TALK to people I know personally or have met in game and enjoy their conversation- gaming, for me, has become a venue of personal (impersonal?) interaction. For instance, I have a Wii in my room- a piece of equipment i coveted for months. But thrust into this hyper-social, get up and get out college scene it has set nearly untouched in my dorm, excepting the few times I have enjoyed a bit of tennis with my friends. Only when involved with others am I able to enjoy playing a game- without some sort of human interaction there is just no interest.
In this regard I am somewhat disappointed and, at the same time, encouraged. While i have come to respect (though it is strange to say it) the hardcore gamers that master the toughest challenges laid forth by Nintendo, I cannot bring myself to finish a one-player game without some sort of companionship involved. While disappointed that I have missed out on some incredible gaming experiences (Resident Evil:4 has not been touched since i moved in- I simply won’t play unless there is someone with me- a travesty I know) I guess where i am encouraged is that I find true pleasure in the camaraderie that gaming makes possible and the relationships i build by overcoming challenges and enjoying humor involved in gaming with another person. The social isolation of one-player games is, in my opinion. what turns a lot of older people off about gaming- the idea being that time is spent in the “unreal” and true life is missed. But multiplayer games overcome that- a real, true, human connection IS possible digitally and gaming online or on a console with others DOES enhance my life, in a real, literal, personal way: socially. Yes, I enjoy the challenge and yes graphics are fun and yes games let you escape what the real world limits you to into the infinity of imagination, but in the end it is the bonds I make and the growth I experience that makes gaming worthwhile to me.