According to Newzoo, 2.47 billion people were gaming across the world last year. By the end of this year, the influence of gaming will extend to 2.6 billion people worldwide.
Gamers are everywhere. The stigma that implies gamers are young, and social recluses, likened to the people found on The Big Bang Theory, is changing. Anyone who plays games online, be it Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, or casino games, is a gamer. For example, Dads who play poker online—they’re gamers. Aunties who enjoy dabbling in bingo online—yup, a gamer. And little sisters who play Mashabear games—that’s right, they’re also gamers.
What’s interesting is the why behind gaming. Why are billions of people dedicated, some even addicted, to getting their technological fill of games on devices? This post walks through what attracts and keeps people hooked up to their gaming device.
Games give people a feel-good feeling when they play, and even more so when they win. Games provide a safe space for someone to exercise their competitiveness during a game.
This is particularly true for games that provide rewards. People that play poker online love that winning feeling. When poker is enjoyed responsibly, it can be an exciting, thrilling pastime.
Escapism comes in all forms. Some people exercise, others watch episodes of their favorite Netflix, and a lot of people like to game.
According to an article called “Digital Games and Escapism”, by Gordon Calleja, escapism is alluring and accessible through gaming because:
1) Players can access a virtual world, an unreality, through a screen.
2) Playing games has always been considered as separate from serious responsibilities that often inflict stress.
Gaming provides individuals with an opportunity to disengage themselves from daily stressors and immerse themselves in the happiness of a virtual world. Games give the player back an element of control over their physical and emotional state. In games such as Tetris and Super Mario Brothers, gamers become so interested in playing, the hours often fly past without them noticing.
Life, in a lot of ways, is restricted. Legal constraints to societal constraints prevent people from being who they want to be, or at least trialing things that they would like to do. The authors of “The attraction of online games: An essential factor for Internet Addiction” reveal games hook people in because, unlike real life, there are no limitations.
For instance, games teeming with aliens and flying dragons defy reality. Developers can take any concept and make it possible for people to experience through gaming, such as apocalyptic games like Left 4 Dead or fantasy games like Dragon Age Begins.
Whether driving a supercar on Grand Theft Auto or becoming a spy in the game Hitman 2, games are an opportunity for people to do things they wouldn’t or couldn’t do in reality. They can live vicariously through a character, without any of the burdens of being, for example, a real spy, who is most likely often stalked, shot at, or hunted by the police.
Socializing is essential for one’s wellbeing and happiness. It helps people to put their problems into perspective, enables people to make memories of shared experiences, and provides people with comfort. Gaming online encourages and supports socializing through co-op, local play, and online play with people from across the globe.
In turn, players bond by helping each other complete tasks on games such as Minecraft. They laugh when someone has shot their own teammate by accident on Fortnite: Battle Royale. They may even challenge each other when the game is not going their way. But above all, games do this one of many things successfully: they allow people to connect.
For people who live far from one another or can’t see each other regularly, playing together online is a way to stay in contact. Others prefer to meet new people through gaming.
Gaming for Happiness
The above elements all equate to one prominent emotion gaming provides—happiness. Whether using gaming as a means for distraction and a break from life, to socialize and connect with friends or strangers, or to try things they may never get to experience in real life, gaming provides so many different avenues that enable a person to be happy. This is why it’s confusing gaming carries such a bad rep for being supposedly counterproductive for a persons’ wellbeing.
Moderation, as with anything in life, is vital, whether something is inherently wrong for you, such as junk food, or great for you, like exercising. Either one, done too much, will lead to poor health and exhaustion. The point is, gaming in moderation is harmless and can increase your overall happiness.
Some people prefer to let off steam by starting a fight with the cook at a Waffle House, and others prefer to saddle up for the night in a spot ready for hours of gaming. At least in the latter, no-one will get physically hurt.
And while some may also assume gaming does little for your mind and happiness, the journal on ScienceDirect.com reveals gaming develops stronger visuomotor coordination, visual attention, iconic skill, and spatial representation. Explain that to the next person who tells you “gaming is no good for you”!
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