I enjoy gaming in my free time. There are reasons why I, and possibly why many others, enjoy spending some of their free time playing a video game. To me, it is an interactive interest that rewards the player with a feeling of accomplishment through active participation. Compared to books, TV, and movies, all major forms of entertainment in today’s media, video games bring to the couch some unique features.
There are those that might consider time spent sitting on the couch with a controller in one’s hand as wasted time, but let’s compare it to other ways of taking in media. When did you last get to interact with one of your favorite television dramas? And not only that, but when did you feel as if you were an integral part of that series, progressing the outcome? Of the various forms of media at peoples’ disposal today, the act of playing a video game is one type of entertainment that rewards the player with that sense of achieving something. You can read a good book, and take in the atmosphere laid out in the sentences on the page.
Books are great – no questioning that. But there is to me a feeling of not just witnessing – but experiencing an adventure through the senses, created with both a visual atmosphere and an aural one comrpised sometimes of orchestral music scored industry professionals, all while controlling the outcome of the protagonist. This is a truly amazing experience once you consider it. Sound can really bring a person to where the artist felt at the time of recording an album, and even when used for the purpose of mood in cinema, music helps set the tone for the viewer. Sound in a video game, however, is known to players as a more than a setting but at times, a memory. So often a song, tune, score, or even a simple sound effect can have a lasting effect on the player that it becomes more than just an accompaniment but part of the story.
The integration of the senses when interacting with the story is not the only thing our treasured form of media brings to its fans. Accomplishment is something else that is not often considered. A film, no matter how great it is, will end and at best fill a person’s head with emotion and maybe even inspire them. The term, “movie magic” is deserved. Video games lately have been attempting to match that cinematic experience, all while doing something else: they are bringing the player along for the ride. Next time you play a game that feels just like a movie, realize that you made that ending happen; you saw those credits roll up the screen because you prevailed. The satisfaction a cinematic video game brings is a deeper level of immersion that leaves players anticipating a sequel.
Reward is a distinction exclusive to video games. Games of yesteryear had players striving for high scores and low times. Our entertainment today provides even more for players to accomplish, and in the world of PlayStation that equates to trophies. Whether you seek them or not, they are there for the taking – assuming you have what it takes to earn them. Now you are actively participating in your form of entertainment, dependent upon your success for completion, but are also given a set of additional challeges for those that seek even more. While the opinions of trophies’ necessity may vary, and the range of collections vary from the ambivalent to borderline hoarding with the pursuit of the platinum rewards, all can agree that trophies bring one more way to be active in the medium. Earning trophies gives the participant the challenge of pursuit. This active participation adds another layer to the entertainment.
We all have ways in which we enjoy spending our free time. Each provides something to the person that makes it worthwhile. Modern times provide many options of relaxing on the couch and taking in some form of entertainment. By enjoying a video game, players get to be a part of what entertains them, as well as chart the course and feel rewarded along the way.
Above image credit: Best Buy