Kimberly Wallace wrote a fantastic piece for Official Xbox Magazine on monday. I won’t spoil any of it, except briefy mentioning that the article deals, partially, with one of the reasons she plays games, and uses them as a kind of coping mechanism where all else has failed her. It got me thinking about my own reasons for playing games.
Something very interesting has happened to me over the last, say, 3 years. All my life I’ve been an avid film buff–I even went to film school, and genuinely intended on making film direction the sole focus of my life…but that desire has largely left me entirely. I still like the medium of film, and maybe I’ll get back into making Smosh-esque skits like I did in high school, but in the last few years films have just become boring. Every now and then I get excited about a movie like the Hunger Games, but in that case the delivery mechanism is irrelevant to my appreciation of the story–or the gameplay implications of the story.
Although I will grant you that I was quite impressed with the direction, and editing of the Hunger Games. I guess there is still a part of me that gets off on that.
But I cannot deny that, on the whole, I just cannot generate an interest in film anymore. The longform of television still holds some favor with me, but even then I often find myself giving up on shows I (think I) like after only a few episodes. I just don’t care.
Meanwhile, my interest in games has grown more and more potent. I’ve always been interested in games, and interactivity in general–before film I studied web development–but it’s only been recently (3/22 years) that I’ve replaced films with games. I used to hold them as seperate entities, for different moods I was in…but now I would say 99% of the time I would rather play a game than do anything else.
Why though? What do I get from games that I don’t get from films? You could argue that it’s just completely random…but I don’t think that’s intellectually honest.
No: the difference is that I am significantly more narcissistic than I was before.
Hah! I don’t mean that in the way you might think! When I examine my life I can see that the last few years I’ve become a lot less interested in socializing, and much more interested in “producing.” The period of my life when I was most interested in film was also the period of my life where I had much more of an interest in hanging out with friends. I spent a lot of time going to parties, and a lot of time gossiping; I had a huge interest in other people, and their lives. I was also generally more passive; arguing less, doing less. I was going to school preparing to do things.
Well now I do do things. The last few years of college I became much more involved with student politics, and created all kinds of personal projects. I stopped gossiping, for the most part, and stopped “hanging out” in favor of doing some kind of activity (a lot of these projects involved my friends in some way).
This point has been beaten to death, but in video games you are participating. I think it makes sense that as I became more and more interested in “life” I became more interested in entertaining myself with something that excited my mind the same way as the exciting work I was doing.
The funny thing is, that’s the exact opposite of what people often say is wrong with gamers: that they’re disengaged from life. Is it possible that someone’s interest in the medium is actually directly related to their interest in “the world?” I think this could be true.
You can gain a lot of insight into yourself when you examine your relationship to entertainment. I’d love to hear a rebuttal from someone who’s more of a film buff.