In today’s world, adults aged 18 – 35 no longer find video games taboo. They play games of all types and also watch professional tournaments related to esports like Call of Duty, which offer everything that you could want from a sporting event, from spectacle to betting opportunities. But the passion for gaming often starts much earlier, somewhere around the age of 10. So why do kids enjoy video games so much and why do so many of them prioritize them over other pastime activities?
Some Basic Laws of Human Psychology
When we’re young, we humans are very curious and quite competitive in nature. We enjoy fighting with others in some kind of an arena, be it sports or anything else, and we find great joy in winning and improving our ability to win. We crave challenge and meaning, but also positive feedback and instant gratification.
What video games do is very simple, although the way in which they do it is quite complex. Video games fulfill human needs and provide people with a captivating simulation of life’s built-in mechanisms. In life, we often strive to make some number go up or down. Games are full of such processes, which means that our minds are constantly working in a way that makes us feel good. We feel like we accomplish something meaningful by completing a mission. And the brilliance of great video games is that they put a powerful story on top of this mechanism. You’re not only making the right numbers go up or down, you’re saving the world while you’re at it.
Another important component is the social one. Just like in every other domain, game developing companies have learned a lot from their several decades of experience. Game designers now understand exactly what creates engagement and how to keep people entertained. One of the magic ingredients is socializing. If you play a game with your friends, on top of the numbers mechanism and the beautiful story, you are also fulfilling your need to communicate and collaborate with others.
Great games always aim to fulfill as many needs as possible and to create opportunities for the players to express themselves in a unique way. In MOBA games for example, not only do you get to choose a role within your team. You also get to pick one of the 100+ heroes and bring to the table your highly customized playstyle. On top of that, the character you are playing can be dressed in the clothing you’ve bought, which incentivizes people to make their avatars look cool.
Why Many Video Games Are Fascinating
The days when video games were just dots and squares on a screen are long gone. Nowadays, games can touch your soul just as much as a film or a melody. Anyone who’s played a game like Senua’s Sacrifice or Elden Ring knows that the storytelling aspect of these games and their characters are extremely memorable and engaging.
A video game can be fascinating through its simplicity or its complexity. Some types of games, such as RPGs, give people a sense of progression. You’re getting stronger and stronger as the story unfolds. And you are completing numerous missions that make you feel accomplished in a strange way.
Other types of games, such as real-time strategies or MOBAs, have a different impact on us. Their primary source of fascination is the PvP element. We like to come up with novel strategies that prove to be better than those of our opponents.
Games like League of Legends and Dota 2 are played in a team versus team format, with 5 players on each side. And almost every single game will offer a different match-up. This means that players need to think about their strategy on the fly and be ready to deal with whatever the opponent throws at them.
The huge number of elements and options makes these kinds of games feel fresh each time you play them. You simply cannot get bored. On the contrary, the more you play, the more you enjoy the experience.
Other games, such as first-person shooters, give us instant gratification without requiring us to learn hundreds of concepts. You simply buy a weapon and start shooting. Pretty intuitive. But even these games have a lot more to offer than just mindless action.
Right now, around 3 billion people on this planet play video games. And since the number is only increasing, instead of making games taboo we might as well try to understand them and make them as useful to people as possible.