These days there are many people who enjoy playing video games. Some people can even play for hours each day. So what is it that draws us to video games? Through books, we can read fascinating tales and we are able to live vicariously through the characters. Movies allow something similar. In Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, he points out that human people are visually biased (page 117). McLuhan also argues that people enjoy television because it is projected at us (page 125). This is unlike reading a book where we must imagine the images ourselves, and it brings the movie one step ahead of the book. Video games are another step up even from that. While talking about television, McLuhan says, “You are the screen” (page 125). Video games allow us to be surrounded by the screen. Video games take us to a whole new world where we can create an alternative self and live alternative lives. If we make a mistake or decide we want another start, all we need to do is create another save file. If we want a different life entirely, all we need is another game.
Video games allow us to explore ourselves in a way that books or television never could. While television can show us what we want, videogames allow us to be what we want. Through choosing the right game, a player can achieve anything. There are games that allow us to do anything from becoming a trained assassin to becoming the mayor of a town. Usually, we can even change our character in some ways to make them exactly what we want to be. Sometimes this simply means choosing a different set of clothes, or switching out the character’s weapon for one that is more you, but sometimes this can mean changing things like species, gender, or appearance. During the time that we are playing that game, we become that character. If I am playing a game and my character is killed, I do not say, “My character died.” I say, “I died.” I speak as if I am my character regardless of whether I spent three hours altering his appearance and abilities or if he was the only character to choose from and I was not able to alter anything about him. Because the player has complete control over that characters actions, the player and the character become one. It is in that way that the player is able to insert themself into a fictional world. With new virtual reality technology, people are going to be able to enter those other worlds like never before. Goggles with fold down headphones allow people to experience 3D sound . While there are currently not many games that support this type of feature, it won’t be long before virtual reality enters homes around the world.
Being able to enter another world in that way can be exciting. There are no limits to what a person can be. The life a person has in a game can be something that they would never once desire for their actual life, but since the world of the game is fictional, it can be fun to live it for a little while. People are naturally drawn to the chance to do the things that they would never be able to do in their own life. In video games we are assassins, race car drivers, and Pokémon masters. Video games allow us to create a brand new life. Whether it is a more exciting life, or a more manageable one, video games provide us with whatever we need.
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