I believe in the power of videogames.
Videogames are an expressive medium that combine art, music, and storytelling with interactivity to create a truly exciting and memorable experience. In short, videogames are fun.
Last summer, I took a game design course where I was challenged to answer what makes a great game fun. The answer is simple: it just is. We discussed challenge and conflict and the pacing of rewards, but ultimately we concluded that a great game is fun because it evokes some powerful emotion within the gamer. It is for this reason that I believe that videogames are a work of art.
Videogaming is a sort of interactive storytelling. That is, there is an underlying plot giving meaning to the events in the game, but the player still is in control and can decide which direction that plot takes. The player makes his own decisions to create his own experience. Videogames are a truly unique art form; no books, movies, or paintings allow the observer that kind of control. Videogames tend to be non-linear, so the experience is different every time. In that sense, videogames are one of the purest forms of art.
The thrill of videogames is that you can experience situations that you can not experience anywhere else. You can get an adrenaline rush from slaying a brutal monster without leaving the safety of your couch. You can become a guitar legend without having to buy expensive equipment and practice for years. I believe in the power of videogames as an escape from reality.
Videogames are a great social activity. Humans have always been competing, for food, for money, for power. This instinctive competition is the driving force behind sports, and now it is the driving force behind videogames as well. Online gaming provides me with a seemingly endless supply of opponents to engage in battle. While playing, my opponent and I can speak to each other through a microphone. We joke around, trash talk a little, and have a conversation. I never would have had those conversations if not for videogames. In an arcade I can ask anyone to join in a game. Even though I have never met this person, the answer is always yes. By asking someone if I can join in his game, I am really telling him that we have something in common because we like the same game. Videogames are truly a uniting force.
Although I believe that videogames are an awesome technology, they must be played in moderation. The people on your Xbox friends list should never replace the friends you already have. You should not give up learning to play the guitar in favor of improving your Guitar Hero ability. Although videogames provide an escape from a sometimes dull reality, playing videogames excessively will not make that reality any less dull.
I believe that videogaming is a truly wonderful activity that stimulates the mind and invigorates the soul.
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