Well, people are playing games. So what? Behavioral, developing, sports, computer. There are word games and mathematic games, too. Let’s see what moves people into playing again and again. First of all check out games that are simulations ~ they are after the real deal ~ like children playing cops and thieves, war or hunting computer simulators(well, all kinds of simulators, thanks to Maxis) and even plays for the theatre. (By the way, i call some games “pieces of art”). Simulations may be competetive, like soccer, or developing like football manager. They may be of combined type like mmorpgs. There are another simulations ~ almost for every kind of action in the life you may find a simulator. And with fantasy and sci-fi genres - even for things that do not exist. Well, there are even God simulators.
I want to focus on computer games. Their properties include motoric movement of hands and fingers, eyes focusing on the screen, and, almost always some activity of the brain. Not all of the games as hard as chess versus Kasparov, but definetly most of great ones require thinking, or in micro - like weapon or character choice for a mission or in macro - like strategic planning, financial investments or logic riddles.
Another question what is making people to play those games? What brings young and not so young men and women to the comfortable chair behind the magic display? Different reasons, but in my opinion the most significant are:
- Sublimation : well, not everyone can be a general and lead armies to great victories; or a hero and slay dozens of evil monsters; or be a pilot of spacecraft, etc etc etc.
- Achievements : new level that are opened after old are cleaned out, better sword when dragon is dead and a cool hat for an engineer. Why? Don’t know, but this is surely motivating. “Mom, one more level” for seeing the next level.
- Social influence : like smoking, a lot of people starts playing after someone that already plays something. And, like smoking, this may be quite devastational: wasted years in WoW or LA2 are something that I happened to see among colledge friends and colleagues.
- Competition : also a social factor, closely connected with achievements. It started to show itself in halls of fame of arcades and became now widely spreaded with massive multiplayer online gaming, bringing in the aspects of PvP, ladders and clan wars.
Game developers sure know what people want to play. They stimulate person’s curiosity and satisfy the hidden(or not?) desires.
So, to create the perfect game one have to know psychology of human needs. Let’s give a short glance at the Maslow’s pyramid. Generally, gaming won’t make you fed or safe, gaming won’t build you shelter. What’s next in the list? We sure have virtual richness. Gamers are mining for money to buy their characters better equipment, now there’s we have an option to invest real money into virtual items. Cool.
Love and appreciation is another two of needs by Maslow. Here we sure see the online gaming. Everyone is working for reputation, either good or bad by doing something in the game world. The good stuff includes things that generally help the game to develop and bring new players, like helping newbies, moderating chats or just being a live legend. Bad things are definetly cheating, insulting others. Funny, that reputation and award system moved further than online games - sites and forums are using that stuff too for their users. Take a look to stackoverflow.com sites or any private torrent tracker(where reputation usually represented by share ratio).
And may be there is hidden the most top of the Pyramid - the self actualization? May the game give it to an average joe? I’m not sure about this one, meanwhile. Games are evolving, and, as I’ve already mentioned - games became an art, both for creators and players, and this means that perception of each reflects individually the influnce of the game on one’s mind.