Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Video Games Need to Be More Meaningful

Do you remember the last time you played a game that moved you? A game, which shook your emotions hard enough to cultivate a new awareness or appreciation for it? With the rise of more time consuming, entertaining games like Angry Birds, meaningful games seem to be lost in the mass of video games, and not many gamers consider this matter when and after playing games. So what constitutes a “meaningful game?” A game is meaningful if it “creates encounters that challenge ethics, morality, and humanity of a player.”1 You might be thinking these games do not exist, but games like Skyrim, Fable, Shadow of the Colossus, Mass Effect, and even GTA are all games that fit this criteria. 
Ever play a game where you are battling yourself with what decision to make because such a situation within the game would never be possible in real life? These moments test the state of your mind and challenge your ideals of your world within a different world. Meaningful does not necessarily mean a positive thing since the outcome of a player’s actions can be negative as well. Whatever the outcome, video games need to be significant enough for players to experiment with unimaginable circumstances in safety. Why? Primarily because the video game industries needs an outlet of gaming that can bring players to a personal-psychological transformation. In a study by Stephen Brock Schafer and Gino Yu2, they believed psychology could merge with video games to create meaningful games that could “cultivate emotional intelligence, somatic awareness, and archetypal integrations.” This means that our unconscious ideas, feelings, and bodies can be integrated to “un-condition” the mind and used to facilitate psychologically meaningful personal transformation.
That was a mouthful, but let us consider this for a moment; if games could give players personal meaningful experiences that they would not have the opportunity to in real life, then video games step out of the realm of entertaining and into a real-virtual life changing phenomenon. Through video games, one could potentially create a world of players that are not mindless gaming zombies, but thought-provoked, inspired individuals that could propel that world into a positive era for the next generation. Currently, meaningful games are on the lesser appealing aspect of the video game popularity paradigm, but it takes risk takers and visionaries to change the world and once the ball starts rolling, it will be those people who are creative and inspired to launch the next technological marvel of our time.

1 Can Video Games be Meaningful? Andy Robertson
2 Meaningful Video Games: Drama-Based Video Games as Transformational Experience Stephen Brock Schafer and Gino Yu.

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