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Why Games Matter to Me – Personal Essay

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Laurence Peter

Playing a game is to have fun and to have wonder

A game may be perceived as a means of wasting time, but aside from having fun, we are actually learning lessons. And hey, we learn a lot of stuff voluntarily through the game. Before class exists, there are two ways to share knowledge. One is through storytelling and the second one is through a play. At least that’s how I imagine. If we’re looking at “play” activity, an activity without any obvious purpose, then animal also likes to play[1]. When we’re talking about “games”, an object to entertain carbon living beings with a set of rules and a degree of interactivity, it has actually been played since the beginning of civilization[2]. It is a part of our nature. Since we’re an advanced species, we developed complex games with explicit goals, sophisticated structures, various contexts, and even appealing arts.

While games do not turn my life upside down, dramatically speaking, games helped me to be who I am right now. Which still could use some improvements. Games introduced me to the English language. Through online games, I learned about time zone differences and its implication. Games really helped me, a person who doesn’t like to share my life, to socialize. It is a safe ground to form bonds without talking about our personal life. When playing together, I can have moments together without actually talking.

A game creates a safe environment to fail. They do not make fun of you for failing, that’s for a starter. Friends do make fun of you, but not the game itself. I don’t need to worry about losing all my money when I lose playing Monopoly. I don’t need to worry about screwing up the actual world when I lose playing Pandemic. RPG in particular offers me a story to live and to experience. Instead of telling how hard it is to save the galaxy, the Mass Effect trilogy makes me save the galaxy.

When a baby walks for the first time, they don’t stop after the first failure

Video games also never stop me from trying again and again. In fact, video games taught me to not give up on myself. Let’s admit it, video games appreciate the player much better than humans appreciate each other. Games: “Oh, you just beat a monster. Here are your experience points and gold.” Meanwhile human: “Oh, you just beat a monster. That’s expected of you.” I might oversimplify the case but I hope you get my point.

For sure, games have their downsides. Making a good game is always a hard task to achieve. Game addiction is real but it’s not based on how many hours you play games. In addition, spending so many hours on a game actually implies the game is good instead of bad. Sure, a game can capture my whole attention. I often simulate what I can and will do to beat bosses for days during my childhood. But again, it happened because I enjoy the struggle and savor the moment. I don’t get depressed by playing a video game.

I’m aware that I might be biased toward games. Thus, I will leave some resources and a quote to end this essay.

Games are an artform unlike any other, because the product is not passively received, it is not something specified to the last splotch of paint and every comma. Rather, a game, as it is played, is a collaboration between the developers and the players, a journey of mutual discovery, a democratic artform in which the shape of the game is created by the artist, but the experience of the game is created by the player.

Greg Costikyan

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Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash