Why I Play Games: The Panel – Part II
Games satisfy my overriding need to interact with the media I consume as much as possible. I remember as a child watching TV shows and movies and imagining what it would be like to be a character in such things. I enjoyed watching the stories play out in front of me but I always desperately wanted to become more involved some how. I wanted to drive in that car chase or be the one to save the damsel from her distress. I wanted to create as much of an impact on what I was experiencing as it was having on me. Games give me the chance to do things like that, to however limited a degree. I’d like to think we’re not passive consumers of media. I think about the things that I watch and read, I discuss them with friends, I read articles and watch videos about other things that I’ve read and seen. The nature of gaming feeds into my desire to actively engage – the controller gives me a way to push back, to play with what I’m experiencing as I experience it. Even if I’m having minimal impact on events, I at least feel like I’m helping to form my own unique impressions of whatever I’m playing. I’m getting an experience no one else will have.
Does that sound a bit mental or pretentious? I don’t know. I like games for many of the same reasons other people do (wish fulfilment, escapism, being able to blow all manner of shit up) but the roots of my continuing desire and interest exist not just with the kind of content games provide, but with the manner in which that content is delivered.
//Why I Play Games
By Felix Bohatsch (Broken Rules, developers of And Yet It Moves)
There are a few aspects of digital games that make me play them. The ones I want to highlight today are playing in a social context, immersing myself in a single experience and the fact that digital games a relatively new medium that has lots of places to grow into.
I still get the most fulfilment out of games when I play them together with friends and colleagues. For me personally, that also means playing in the same room – that is, being physically present – but I don’t think that this is necessity for everyone. It’s great when you get into a frenzy together and everything gets a bit chaotic, because that just pushes everyone involved a bit more into the game. For me, it also doesn’t really matter if it’s competitive or cooperative, because at the end everyone has gained something from the others, and the group will have accomplished something together, even if it’s just a great time. Examples for these situations I enjoy a lot are Wii Sports, Galcon and Pro Evolution Soccer.
Often, it doesn’t even mean that everyone in the room needs to play. I had great times solving single-player games with friends around, just passing the controller and discussing problems and solutions. This way, you share the problems, but also the accomplishments. I loved playing Gran Turismo with my brother, solving Zack & Wiki with a friend and living through the tension of PixelJunk Monsters with two playing and two more friends shouting where to place the towers.
Sometimes there’s no one around, though, and then I still have the urge to play a game. When I play alone I’m either looking for games that give me the feeling of empowerment, or for deeper, story-like experiences. I love games that put me into a flow-like state, where I have the feeling of skill and control while being at the edge of loosing at the same time. Many smaller puzzle games like Peggle, Bit.Trip Beat or Flight Control pull me in through this. But I also love to be able to creatively explore a game’s rule set, where the main mechanics give enough freedom so that various different ways of play emerge. This way I can once again get into a very paidiac play state – that is unstructured play, like when I was a child – which gives me a feeling of creative empowerment. Powder Game and Little Big Planet have been recent experiences like that.
It’s great, though, when games manage to mix these two kinds of play – games that demand skill and control, while allowing enough freedom to experiment with the rule set and the environment these are placed in. It’s usually these games that I completely get lost in, like Flower, World of Goo, Katamari Damacy or Zen Bound. Rarely – but that much more significantly – do I find a game that manages to tell me a story through playing it. Still, this is one of the main points why I play games, because it can make the story feel more meaningful when you experience it through interactivity. It hasn’t happened often yet to me, but ICO and Shadow of the Colossus have left a deep impact and made me crave for more experiences like them.
Lastly, I play games because I also make them, and I want to see what great stuff others make with our new medium. It’s great to be part of a medium that has just recently started to grow and change and will do so even more. I think there are lots of places digital games still have to go to, and ultimately – for me as a gamer – that means lots of chances to be surprised, amazed and immersed.
//Why I Don’t Play Games
By Michaël Samyn (Tale of Tales, developers of The Path / The Graveyard)
I don’t play videogames. I really want to. But I don’t. I often try. Again and again. But games cannot keep me interested for long. It used to be different. Maybe games have changed. Maybe I have. Probably both.
Not to play videogames is not remarkable. Most people don’t. It’s still a marginal hobby. But not to play videogames while really wanting to is strange. My demand is greater than the supply.