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Why We Still Crave Video Games -- Looking Both Ways On the World of Gaming

Updated: Apr 22




Escapism, Morality, and Video Games


Have you ever wanted to wake up in the morning and devise a plan for world domination? Have you ever wanted to start a religion, cult, or country, without anyone getting in your way? What about being ridiculously rich and being able to buy more than the property that is your house and/or business, or, even, commit a mass shooting? How about being a god-damn drug baron (and not an article baron?).


While we cannot, or should not, do most of these things in real life, the virtual space that is video games is what attracts so many of us into playing them for several hours, if not days -- the ability to be and do things you would probably never be able to do in real life, or, at least, won't be able to do without getting away with it.



In a video game, it's "okay" to act like Hitler, "okay" to raid a peaceful village, and "okay" to actualize your deepest sexual fantasies, whether with other players or with fictional entities.


Video games tap into our desires for escapism and exploration in a society conditioning mediocrity. They can be very dark, and yet, it is all good and okay as long as we understand the boundaries between the game and reality.


They are alternative simulations that can put you in different shoes, a pair of which you will probably never get to wear in real life unless you choose a path of relentless discipline to achieve your dreams.


It is no surprise, therefore, that there are certain people (not me) that prefer to spend their lives in virtual worlds rather than in real life. For many, real life can feel boring in comparison to the excitement and agency offered by games. They may even use their boredom as a fallacy, saying that life is not as interesting as their virtual fantasies. That's whether or not they understand the extent of their potential.


The Unexpected Aspects of Video Games


Beyond work, family, and some hobbies, that is pretty much it for many people, and it will be, probably, for the rest of their lives. Real life might be only more interesting than video games to some people:



For the rest of us, life is monotonous, and even boring at times. Some if not most of us might only have been living for the next paycheck.


Having several generations that grew up on video games, few are, probably, the people, that treat them as toys, when in fact they can be more complex than that. They are no longer the sole interest of kids, teens, and young adults, and there are even elders who might play them on a regular basis.


It just goes to show how functional video games are to our lives, and not only for the sake of entertainment, but also, perhaps, as a way to fulfill our fantasies, or at least put us in situations we will never find ourselves in. That is regardless of our endeavors. Imagine playing a game where you can relive the fantasy of which you want to manifest in reality. In a way, games are also virtual simulators of our dreams.


Video Games and Moral Depravity


The "problem" with video games, of course, begins on the ethical level, when certain people who play them regularly become violent or abusive to others, people that can even be kids. While indeed the younger generations can act wildly, it is still debatable whether or not it is something that begins with video games and ends in real life. That is even though it could, like when a child decides to injure family as a result of them.




“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

This raises some interesting questions:


  • Are younger generations today any more violent than any other generations of the past, just because of video games and other modern enjoyments?

  • Will a life devoid of any video game, or even any game, make people less violent, less aggressive, and/or abusive?

Overcoming the Blame Game: Exploring the Subtlety


As a kid who loved war games, I can personally attest to the thrill of virtual conquest. The feeling of achieving victory in a game was unmatched at the time. Obviously, translating that desire to world domination in real life wouldn't work (launching an air strike of airships and paratroopers on my elementary school wasn't exactly). But the point is, the urge for a satisfying challenge or outlet can be fulfilled through safe, virtual means.


We need these outlets in life where we could express the honesty of our shadow selves. In fact, video games can provide a time and place where we not deem our shadow selves as condemnable but as something to be cherished. Therefore, video games can actually help us accept oursevles more, and live in greater peace with our less-liked aspects.


I disagree with the belief that video games necessarily make you more violent. In some cases they can relieve and regulate stress, for instance. People who are less stressed are less likely to find themselves being aggressive, for there is a link between stress and aggression. Therefore, people need healthy outlets to express emotions and experiment with behaviors that might be frowned upon in real life.


And a healthy outlet is healthy when it doesn't cause unnecessary harm to either oneself or others.


The Darker Side of the Mirror: Games and Human Nature


Perhaps video games serve a philosophical purpose. They can reflect a darker side of human nature, a side we often repress in polite society. Are we truly benevolent beings if, given the chance in a game, we readily choose to cause virtual mayhem or make villainous decisions? If anything, evil can be most distinct in humans. These choices, while consequence-free in the game, raise a thought-provoking question: What might we do in real life if given the same unrestricted power and opportunity?


This is not meant to be an insult to those enjoying games, but rather food for thought. We can thus understand the importance of social norms and restraints, along with the reason why not everyone should have absolute power or unchecked authority.


Conclusions


Video games offer a complex world of escapism, exploration of opportunity, and even self-discovery. They can be thrilling, thought-provoking, and even a healthy outlet for exploring darker urges in a safe environment. However, concerns about a link to real-world violence remain.


While video games themselves may not be inherently bad, certain factors can influence their impact. Excessive gaming, the specific content of the games, and a player's pre-existing mental state are all important considerations, in the attempt to make a less-biased assessments on the matter. You know, look both ways.


Video games can be a fantastic form of entertainment, but they shouldn't become a substitute for real-life experience, when we still have the power towards living the life we want to love. That's regardless of that certain activity. Open communication between parents and children, and of course between other people as well, can help ensure a positive and enriching understanding of one of the world's biggest financial industries.



Perhaps the most important takeaway is this: video games are a powerful tool, and like any tool, they can be used for good or bad. For that matter they can even be used as propaganda, as with the case of "gaming Jihad", where games are used (allegedly) as an excuse to brainwash children and teenagers.


Understanding the contributions of video games, versus the harm they actually cause, can allow us to better reap the benefits of these virtual worlds while keeping a healthy perspective on the real one.


Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

Video games teach an important lesson: Life is all about action. Games show us that in order to do anything action must be taken. That is the difference between owning a business and owning a successful one. The owner of the successful one is one who takes action. That is all business is: Action for a particular reason.
[If] you have enough particular reasons you want to act on, then your business can never fail. A wrong action is still better than no action. Successful business owners are very efficient at making the right ones.
I think people forget the value of video games. Everyone learns [craiving] about victory no matter the cost. It makes everyone [reach] victory without appreciating the journey it took to get you there. Everyone wants to quickly hurry up the story mode so they can go online and demonstrate how good they got at it to other people.
Anything you want to do in life takes action. The important thing to learn is how to take more effective actions. You can always improve because you can always make better actions. Who cares what means you take to start doing them. The result is the same.
Mr. Tomasio is both right and wrong. Video games might tap into a darker nature, but not all games are created equally.... Video games acted as a friend of sorts to me. I had social difficulties growing up where I had trouble connecting with people. Video games supplied me with something to connect to.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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