• davewofford

On Video Games

I often hear adults profess irritated confusion at the power of video games in teen culture. Even those of us who may have been devotees in our day are sometimes mystified by the ubiquity and addictive power of games in the lives of teenagers today.

We may find some insight In a well-researched article published last month by Simon Parkin. The author summarizes findings from a 2014 study in a compelling argument:

Many games are deeply enjoyable because they satisfy three basic human needs:

  1. Self Expression: Many of the most successful games allow players to design characters in a highly customizable way, and provide a huge range of behavioral freedom within the game.

  2. Develop Mastery: The scaffolding difficulty of challenge in a game, and the immediate feedback cycles typically provided, are extraordinarily appealing to the human mind. We are first of all learning creatures, and successful games are learning environments.

  3. Community: As highly social animals, our sense of satisfaction is generally much, much deeper when engaging in activities in groups. The architecture of many games capitalizes on this need by designing tasks that require teamwork and coordination.

Most of us would agree that these needs are in fact healthy and important, and would not begrudge someone seeking to fulfill them. In that case, perhaps instead of directing an old-fogey irritation at the existence and popularity of these games, we should invest some time and energy in supporting activities and environments that provide for them in a way we can agree is healthy.


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