Addictive Properties of Videogames

Michelangelo Pereira – Staff Writer

Video gamers have grown up. The average gamer is now in his 30s. It has been 20+ years since the original Nintendo was released. It was released in the 80s. Since then, the internet has changed the world. It has changed the way the way we do business. It has changed the way that we connect to each other.

The video game industry has grown up. Video games are more expensive to produce and they are more expensive to purchase. Their potential to make money is enormous. The highest selling video games can outsell the highest grossing Hollywood movies. The industry has gained popularity but it is not taken seriously as an art form. It has yet to prove itself. It is still discovering itself and has not earned the same respect as either books or movies.

Gamers are older but they are perceived to be immature. Video games have a bad reputation and they are seen as being detrimental. They have the potential for great good. A gamer is seen negatively as a geek and a loner. They are seen as lazy couch potatoes. Technology is changing things. Now video games are becoming more interactive. They are requiring us to get up off of the couch. Xbox Kinect, Playstation Move and the Wii need us to be active. The industry must respond to its gamers needs. The industry is as interactive as the video games themselves. It must constantly reinvent itself in order to survive. This is good news as it gives video games the potential to move into a more positive light.

There are few video game female characters and this has alienated the majority of females. Male gamers make the situation worse. They can be abusing and they can intimidate their female counterparts. A female cannot play a video game online without being harassed by the male gamers. This does not reflect well on the industry. There needs to be a balance if more females are going to play.

Female characters in video games are designed to attract the males. They are not made to look like the girls who play the games. Their outfits are revealing and their bodily proportions are unrealistic. They are made to look like models and it is difficult for a female to identify with such protagonists. Future games need to be more in line with the people who play the games.

Video games have a great potential to do good. They inspire gamers to take on challenges. Games like Final Fantasy ask players o save the world. And the players do so willingly. It is a noble thing to aspire to do. The games themselves are difficult and long. It is a great accomplishment to play all the way through to the end. It feels like saving the world. This teaches players to be determined and to have ambition. It teaches them to follow through with their actions even in the face of certain defeat. It teaches them to get back up after falling down. The negative side to the story is that is also provides them with an escape from reality.

Many people who play World of Warcraft online have more friends in the virtual world than they do in the physical world. Video games make it extremely easy for people to connect to each other. There are people in different parts of the world who play WOW together for years. Eventually they meet in person. This is unique to video games.

The potential to connect people in not seen with book or movies. The quality of the connections is also deeper. Gamers go on quests together and they work as a team. They face challenges together. They win together and they share their accomplishments with one another. It is a good environment to be in. If it could be carried into the real world it would be great. The sad fact is that gamers become addicted and they ignore the real world. They get fired from their jobs and they fail out of school and their relationships suffer. This is because they cannot find a balance between the games and reality.

Video games are made to be addictive. They are made to sell. They do so by being fun. They do so by being charming and entertaining. Video games recreate entire worlds. And the worlds inside the games are more attractive than the real world. They allow a store clerk to become a prince. He will even be treated as such by his friends online. In Korea there is rehab for video game addicts. They consider it a serious illness because people have died from playing games. The gamers play for hours and they neither sleep nor eat. Eventually it becomes too much and their bodies just give up.

Video games are addictive because they are designed that way. They are played and tested and tweaked. New versions of old games take everything that works and improve upon that. They get rid of that which does not work. Video games offer increasing rewards for challenges that rise in difficulty. They are paced and targeted so that the player stays in the game for as long as possible. This is the science of addiction. Players pay for the new versions of the same games every year. After the games are released they even pay for online content that compliments the game.

In order to cure the disease the real world must become more like the fantasy. Gamers need to feel empowered in real life. They need to feel like they are making a difference. They we rewards and challenged. Most importantly they need recognition. We all want to feel like heroes. We all want to feel that we are part of a great adventure.

The nature of video games is changing. It is becoming difficult to define what a video game is. More of the world is become interactive. There are those that consider Facebook to be a video game. If a person has more friends they are considered to be winning. Video games are now available on our phones. There are even interactive advertisements that resemble games. There is no escaping them.

There is also the increasing gamification of the world. Airlines have taken cue from the video game world. They offer flier miles and status upgrades for customers who fly constantly. In the long run the customer does not win. But they are happy to have preferential status over customers who do not fly as constantly as they do. This is a game on a whole other level. Other companies are studying this business model and implementing it for themselves. Credit card companies are another example.

This is a case of life imitating art and vice versa. We are in difficult times and the way out requires hope. We need to empower gamers. We need to look at games and not condescend. We need to look at games and learn from them. There is a wealth of data to be harvested. It will become what we make of it.

1 Response to “Addictive Properties of Videogames”

  • Just out of curiosity, what’s your experience in the industry like? I searched around the site and couldn’t find a bio or anything. Either way, thanks for the info!

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