A friend of mine was talking beside me about the pains of indecisiveness that academics have concocted with his legs crossed; his qualms and cries for justice in life and desire for change was echoing in the small quarters that houses dozens of PCs – this hub or “internet cafe” was a second home to us and we talk freely and speak openly about our lives when while playing beside each other, but each to his own – we find respite and comfort in our virtual worlds that reside beyond our cold LED monitors.
It made me think; If video games can mold a world as simple and gentle like this even in a real life perspective, I wonder what their full potential would be if given a chance to reach its full potential both in terms of immersion and interactivity.
I have been a video game enthusiast for the majority of years of my life. I can even confidently say that Video Games taught me most of my basic communication skills including English language and my exposure to different types of culture and different types of people.
What makes a video game as immersive as it is? Why do we feel that sense of belonging whenever we enter our usernames and passwords and watch the loading bar fill up silently serving as a boat that carries our consciousness towards a new place, a new destination – a place where an infinite number of digital and subjective potential resides.
As I draw out and unsheathe my sword from its leather scabbard, I braved the digital world that Square Enix has created – today I will be playing Final Fantasy XIV.
The land of Eorzea is filled to the brim with swords, magic, eight-feet tall elves with long ears, gigantic yellow birds with saddles. My character wakes up from his bed inside an inn’s quarters, stretching his arms and yawning as he brushes off the last remnants of his sleep.
I walked towards the door, opened it and was greeted by the gentle sound of the game’s music and a hub/bar where every other players who might be tired from a whole day of work or school are all hanging around – some of them are humans, others are elves, others are the muscular and tall race known as the Roes, there are also the tiny lalafells and the half dragons known as Au’ra.
Suddenly it does not feel like a video game anymore; as my tall and elven lancer walked the halls of the hub I saw how people chatted inside this game – it was casual, it’s as if they were part of the world, like they can hear the gushing of water just outside the bar, the rustle of leaves that covers the land of Gridania, the sound of triumphant roars of veteran adventurers that just nailed down a boss monster or conquered a raid.
It was magnificent.
As an elven lancer, I am a member of a guild – a small one with people who I am close with, some of them are friends from long ago others are new ones who I’ve just met inside the video game.
Some might say that only children play video games, but my guild tells otherwise.
I play with professionals, adults, office workers, wives, husbands, office workers, doctors, people – these are not children; these are adults who did not lose the inner child, people who work by day but wear armor and wield pointy sticks towards dragons at night.
I may not have much time as I did back when I started playing but believe me when I say that MMOs or video games are now worlds – I travelled it and spent time with these human beings; these are people who dedicate time perfecting a raid, earning in-game money to buy real property (yes, we have that, it’s insane), or just people who genuinely loves the sound of rustling leaves and the roar of an elder dragon.
And sometimes even spending Christmas together.
And then it dawned on me – Why are we playing these games?
The answer lies not in the answer, but in the question itself.
Why do we go to school? Why do we go outside and spend time with our loved ones? Why do we learn? Why do we read?
My theory goes that we involuntarily pick up a habit (such as eating, reading, exercising) when we sense that it develops us and the people around us, be it in reality or virtual.
To develop one’s self and experience the companionship of others.
Video games develop a person.
Plus you can kill dragons using pointy sticks in it.
Got your own thoughts about your games? Share it.