When I consider what gaming means to me, I think about the games I have played over the last 20 years. For me, gaming has helped me keep in touch with friends, laugh, cry, and shout with/at my brothers, and so much more. It has even acted as a gateway into journalism; something I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
Despite my articles on the damaging nature of microtransactions within games, and more recent research about the addictive, as well as rage-inducing nature of gaming, most articles never really give you the full story. Instead, offer solely a myriad of facts with no emotional consideration.
As of 2020, there were an estimated 2.7 billion people playing video games within their homes. For our parents, this would have been the equivalent of hanging out at the arcade. So, why is gaming so important? Although there are abusive and toxic players online, the majority of players don’t go into lobbies actively trying to ruin somebody else’s day. In fact, most gamers use multiplayer platforms to stay in touch with friends and family who might live a great distance from them. Therefore, acting as a social platform, gaming – similar to Skype, Facebook or Twitter – keeps us in touch with the people around us.
Then why do single-player games exist? One of the first games I remember playing as a child was Command and Conquer, not because it had been advertised by some big flashy billboard, but because I had seen my dad playing it. There’s always some part of you that thinks whatever your parents are doing must be more fun than what you're doing, so I gave it a go. This allowed my dad and I to experience games together, which later developed into something we did with my brothers as well. This is similar to how board games would have been a family pastime in decades gone by. Alternatively, I would often find myself playing Pokemon alone to sit back and relax, as well as exploring Skyrim or Fifa. In that sense, single-player games represent the escape from life, similar to how some people sit and read or watch television.
Gaming, although it can carry stigmas such as being anti-social, is a form of entertainment just like any other. The value of finding escapism in an activity that you get enjoyment from is priceless. Whether that be playing online with others, or single-player, the beauty of gaming is that there is something for everyone. Through the escapism offered by gaming, you can become the next president, an elite footballer, a writer, superhero, drummer, trackstar, explorer, or builder. The list goes on…
That is why growing up with games is so important to me.