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The Digital Exodus: Reasons Why We Game

Gaming as a past time has long since removed itself from “nerdom” status. I remembered when I was younger I never would’ve been as vocal about my gaming habits as I am now. Which is ironic right? How is it that this full-grown man is much more inclined to discuss his geeky passion for video games moreso than he would’ve in years past? To put it simply and ambiguously; video games have become something else.

When the game industry was in it’s infancy most games consisted of jumping gaps and running through a level until you’ve essentially crossed a finish line. The extent of story-telling in those early games was text, usually revolving around saving a princess or the world. While there is still some of that today, video games are doing a much better job of conveying a more human experience. The hardware available to developers today allow for uncanny levels of realism. Graphics and storytelling are now evoking emotion that is normally found in filmmaking or novels.

What is it about a video game character that makes them so compelling? Well, the character on-screen is dictated by the person at the controls. This control in concept NOT the actual controller, is the key to immersing players in every game. This character embodies the will of the player at the controls. Players can be the athlete they’ve always wanted to be, lead a life of heroics or villainy, or simply do whatever and go wherever they want. Gaming allows us to do things we’re not normally capable of doing and allows us to do it with ease. Empowerment is what separates gaming from movies and novels. It is very divisive tool in the gaming industry that elevates games beyond mere entertainment and allows it to become an experience.

Of course not all games are dramatic reality-bending excursions. Video games can be simply that; games. While there are people who may profess to never playing video games, they might not recognize that they’ve probably already done so without knowing it. Millions upon millions of people are addicted to Farmville and other Facebook games. Many people dive into a couple games of Tetris or Blackjack on their phones while waiting for the bus and your English professor likely plays Angry Birds while grading papers. Games are all around us and EVERYONE plays them. It is a means of entertainment that draws us away from the everyday and places us somewhere else – even if only for a bit.

Your mum enjoys this more than she'd like to admit

Since life is based on repetition it’s easy for us to become jaded. We all have school and/or work alongside a healthy dose of worries that reminds us we’re all mortal and fragile. To escape the tropes of life people may take small steps like reading a book or going outside to exercise. The supremely weary will go as far as to drastically change their surroundings with a vacation. All of that is fine, but the problem is that you’re still YOU. I don’t mean to sound disingenuous, there’s nothing wrong with being who you are (because everybody loves you); it’s just that you’re still stuck in reality. Our means of escapism is relegated to this pseudo-bubble that constantly reminds us that we’re Homo sapiens. Video games let us transcend that barrier and allows us to be genuinely enchanted in something. It’s no different than daydreaming, like when you’re constantly thinking about what it’s like to be a millionaire or if you could fly. Video games encourage us to explore distant worlds and shape things to how we see fit. It’s simultaneously wondrous and terrifying; which is why it’s so great.

Welcome to your other life...

If the world warrants American Idol and Jersey Shore as a means of entertainment, then let us geeks have our video games. If fans of the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter movies are showing up to midnight premiers dressed as their favorite characters and watching the movie in their Snuggies; let me chug my Red Bull while I wait in line for a next-gen system. If you want to go on Facebook and see who’s broken up, read your friends’ status updates, and play Farmville, so be it; gamers will be okay with “shootin’ the shit” while blasting away zombies. To each their own of course. We at LCG have an endless passion for all things digitized, pixelated, and polygonal. To call gaming “nerdy” or a “waste of time” is a severe understatement. With the same amount of effort, you can either take yourself on an unforgettable journey or you can sit there and watch drunk chicks from Jersey in between commercial breaks.

This is why we game.

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