Why we play games.
Sorry, sorry, it's been a long busy weekend but I've finally managed to catch up on my sleep. Work is a sad few hours away though so it will be the same thing again next week I'm afraid with hopefully more energy and time available towards the end of the week. Today I will be exploring a little the reasons why people game in the first place. We've all heard what I think is stuff and nonsense about violent games breeding violence in society when the reverse could actually be true providing as they do an outlet for repressed emotions and instincts more suited to hunting Neolithic gazelles or outrunning sabre tooth tigers than modern life. There is a payoff for playing games; firstly during the game itself there is an adrenaline rush that replaces the thrill of the hunt and then when the game is won or a challenge overcome there's a lovely endorphin high that satisfies the latent killer in all so called modern humans. It's worth noting that during the eighties in my wannabe yuppie days the arcade centre near the office was full every lunchtime with suited minor executives playing the most frantic games they could lay their hands on in the name of stress relief. It worked and while I couldn't compete with the fit of the suit, the size of the salary or the car that was being driven I could more than hold my own when it came to the arcade lunch break, a fact that was no end of satisfaction to me despite the shortfalls in the other areas. Socially I was at the higher end of the pecking order as a result of my games playing skills, thus negating the need to fight to establish my place in the hierarchy as I would have had to several thousand years ago. This is amongst grown men, the social building skills are vastly different to those used by our ancestors but the instincts that go behind it are the same, often replaced by banter in modern society. Those instincts are also satisfied within a gaming community based on skill and talent rather than physical or intellectual prowess. It really is a great leveler the trick being to play to your strengths and to strengthen areas you are weaker in - just as our ancestors would have had to do when competing with other predators for food in the wild. Teamwork is not neglected either with many many games requiring a team effort in order to achieve an effect advantageous to the group involved. Thus are clans and communities embarked on major hunting or foraging expeditions of yore. Games have it all when it comes to simulating things we no longer use and I believe it was a myth to claim that any human society is non-violent in the first place. The large scale lawlessness that was recently observed in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina surely shows what a thin veneer we paint over the cracks we hide behind. Society has always been violent but games may be able to help to reduce that violence by answering basic instinctive triggers that become frustrated and confused if left unchecked.