I used to play a lot of video games as a kid. I remember getting the original Playstation, loading up my copy of Crash Bandicoot, and playing for hours on end. I never beat the game, but I remember the levels being so entertaining. I didn’t know it then, but it was escapism. Over the years, Nintendo Gamecube, original Xbox, and various GameBoy and PSP consoles would offer that means of escape into fantastical worlds of good versus evil. I’d also play PC games on websites like Addicting Games, mostly of the car parking variety, or click-through escape the room games.
From youth to adulthood, we learn our relationships to others and the world through play–through testing our boundaries and making mistakes. Life is very much like a videogame–a role-playing game to be specific. With our characters on the stage of life, we travel through the world, collecting power ups and crossing checkpoints in the hopes of being a champion of some kind. (Or an evil overlord, if Fable is your game.) Nowadays, people retreat to video games from the whirlwind of reality. Hours on end plugged in with your friends, right next to you or on the other side of the world. There’s a simultaneous connection to (via WiFi) and disconnection from other humans. In multiplayer shooters, you can help others survive, or stab them in the back.
What do we make of a world where games have become a critical point of engagement, not just for pleasure, but for learning? The future of games is ripe because they aren’t susceptible to illegal copying, but there is also an economic barrier to access, which means only a segment of the population can engage with them. Board games and basketball hoops until everyone can afford VR.