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Open Question: Gamers

A friend of mine started a discussion in his blog about video games. I had my own personal answers, but I realized when I wrote this...

Playing games for me is different than it is for many real gamers. I play games like someone would play a slot machine. You pull the lever, things line up, maybe some treasure falls out. It's kind of mind numbing and for me it relieves stress. I don't like games to be at all challenging, I just like them to let me zone out for a while.

...that my experience is probably not representative of many other people who like video games. I was remarking that I know people who take on video games as more of a full time hobby or a main hobby, and they feel like they get all kinds of other stuff out of it that maybe isn't part of my experience. So video gamers: How does gaming fit into your life? What benefits do you feel you get out of it? What are the negatives, if any?

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
traceracer
Apr. 12th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Mine is very similar to yours. I don't like to have to 'solve' anything, I just like the brainless aspect of it.

I also only really like to play with other people. Unless I'm feeling very antisocial with my game. Then I'll play Diablo.
snidegrrl
Apr. 12th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
I am here to tell you that I can happily turn into a puddle of goo playing this:

http://games.yahoo.com/games/downloads/cz.html

For an hour. I don't even need a massage, I just need Chuzzle. I highly recommend it. Put on some good music and chuzzle your cares away.
squeegibo
Apr. 12th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
I play mostly for puzzles and mental exercise. Er, mental exercise that's not work related. I consider sports games puzzles to some degree because I'm usually most interested in the strategy.

I'm not sure what benefits I get from gaming other than fun and taking my mind off the other crap I should be doing. I love figuring stuff out. Gaming is just another way for me to do that.
jfboyd
Apr. 12th, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)
I find zone-out games never hold much interest to me for very long. A good game to me is one that challenges me without being so difficult that I have to make it my second job. My favorite game series of all time is the Zelda series for that reason. I also like driving games and games where I can do something fun that I can improve at over time.
snidegrrl
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:31 am (UTC)
Zelda was in fact one of the best sets of games of all time. The SNES game was really, top notch. But you know, I played right on through those with the strategy book sitting next to me because I didn't want to have to figure shit out.

Some people may recall MYST. I had a screaming raging fight with my boyfriend at the time about that game because he wouldn't let me see the notes he'd made on how to get through the game... he didn't get it. I just wanted to see the game! Not have to work. I had college for that already.

What games do you play lately?
jfboyd
Apr. 13th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately none at the moment, as I am between systems. I was planning on getting a PS3 recently, but since they've pushed back the release date, I'm thinking about cheating on my platform and getting an Xbox 360.
kerikeri
Apr. 12th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
My approach is a little different, but that might have something to do with the genre of games I like to play. I play a lot of RPGs and other games with a strong emphasis on plot, characterization, etc., so I tend to approach gaming as a similar activity to watching TV/movies or reading books-- it's just a more interactive extension of those hobbies.

I'm not really all that big on "challenge" either, though; I'm a lot more likely to get frustrated because a game is too repetitive or too difficult than because it's too easy, and I hate getting stuck in a game where I'm mostly in it for the plotline because the gameplay is too tough. (I have that problem with survival horror games a lot-- I love the stories and the atmosphere, but action/shooter gaming isn't my strong suit, so I inevitably end up stuck somewhere.) I do enjoy combat elements in games, especially when approached in an innovative way, but other elements are generally more important to me and I don't want to have to spend a lot of time stressing over combat.
snidegrrl
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:28 am (UTC)
It's funny, I even play a game that could involve RP and I play it on a server that's designated "roleplay" but I never, ever, ever roleplay on it. It's as if in 2000 my roleplaying brain died and that was the end of it. I spent years at roleplaying games in one form or another but now it holds no interest to me. I think that's a whole other post because there are alot of factors to it.

I totally feel you about the survival horror games - I prefer to watch other people who are good at them play through them. Fortunately I have dated many gamers.
captain_boots
Apr. 12th, 2006 11:23 pm (UTC)
With some games I do like a bit of a challenge, but often I do enjoy a game for similar reasoning to what you say. I like to fire up BF1942 now and again to kill the very dumb AI bots. Pull that lever! :) I do like a challenge, but I'm picky about what that challenge is these days.

Lately sudoku has become a good friend of mine, heh.

Although I haven't touched it in a while now, when I do play "Sims 2" the thing I like to do is to use the money cheat and buy up all kinds of stuff. For some reason playing a character trying to manage their life just isn't at all interesting as a way to relax from trying to manage my life. :)
curious_jp
Apr. 14th, 2006 03:48 am (UTC)
Yes... as worryingly antisocial as it may be ( and possibly prejudicial to future work requiring psychiatric evaluation ), there is something timesinky about sitting on a hill in BF1942 and sniping away for hours.

I used to like playing WoW as a social activity I could do with malkin, and it was a good way to stay in touch with my friends. I will come back and play a little bit ( but only a little! ) when my new laptop arrives on the 25th. When I was younger, two friends and I would regularly meet up on the weekend and eat pizza and play games. When we were younger, it was FPS stuff ( Quake, Unreal Tournament, etc ) and as we got older, it moved to Starcraft ( which I liked less ).

At the moment, I'm playing Quest For Glory ( Heroes Quest ) I, the old, pre-remake version. It is illuminating to see the grind so decryed of modern MMORPG's alive and well there. After this, I'm looking forward to playing Morrowind and Oblivion in Bootcamp, and perhaps the original Ultima series, which I never had a chance to enjoy. I'm also looking forward to trying out the new intel mac UT2004 binaries. But I suspect WoW will be the real time waster - it represents something to me now, an era.

-- curious_jp
captain_boots
Apr. 14th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
I entirely forgot that Oblivion is out! I played a lot of Morrowind. (and Daggerfall etc etc) The new one should make an excellent birthday gift to myself. :)

I used to play Dark Age of Camelot, but have struggled to find other similar games interesting. WoW only lasted a month. City of Heroes lasted for a while, but it got old much faster than other games. The last FPS game I liked was Joint Operations, but the community was rather sad. There are some major whiners who can't deal with dying and won't shut up with the screams of 'cheat!' whenever they get shot. I hated the Quake style of game because people just ran patterns picking up weapons. Ok, the people I played with anyway. :)
cheetahmaster
Apr. 12th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
Depends on the game. The above describes my experience with both Sudoku and Diablo 2 pretty well. Not so much my experience with City of Heroes and tabletop gaming.
snidegrrl
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
So what do you get out of City of Heroes? (I think there was a distinction made specifically for video games here, so no need to answer re: tabletop.)
dimfuture
Apr. 13th, 2006 06:37 pm (UTC)
Not that this was directed at me, but City of Heroes was that kind of experience for me. You boot it up, punch some bad guys... okay, you're done. Its one-dimensional nature was kind of appealing that way.
bizarrojack
Apr. 12th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
While I don't pretend that this is Grandmaster level chess, I do like it as a funny kind of mental exercise, one that is good practice for not much other than more gaming. PvP is always fun in that "you want to win more than 50% of the time" way, to prove that you're above average. I haven't put my finger on why it is that WoW PvP has been so much less engaging for me than DAoC RvR was. On a competitive complexity scale of "Air Hockey" to "Actually fighting WWII," I would say that WoW's PvP is slightly further to the left than DAoC's, although various population and realm culture factors in DAoC made the winning and losing a bit more predictable.

I like building out characters in MMO's, by which I mean I like building out A character, because levelling is boring. I of course give up any hope of being the best, so I try to be different and make that work. Playing a DPS class is cool, because then the game is "Damage Meter." I don't win at that one as often as I used to, so I think I'll have to play the raiding game for a while.

Oblivion, my other computer game, is neat because it's exploring a fantasy world with a story, a world where there is fighting. That's pretty much an escape. I want to see more pictures, and I suspect that I will do so, after buying a new PC.

Minesweeper, my other other game, is good for nothing but learning how to play minesweeper. Occasionally I'll find myself trying to recognize more and larger patterns that will let me click the blocks faster when I recognize them, but there seems to be a kind of an upper limit on how much information could be available for making the necessary decisions. I'm really waiting for the game that culminates in me having something like 20 blocks that need clicking, where based on an inspection of any small site of blocks, they all have an equal or similarly bad chance of being mines, with no certainty unless I consider the possible layouts of mines, using the known number of remaining mines as the deciding factor. I kind of wish there was some kind of scoring for that sort of thing, but its only time. That would be very rewarding.
mikailborg
Apr. 13th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
I like the exploring of a video game, the feeling that I'm a traveller in a tiny virtual world. What I hate about getting stuck in a video game is not so much that I'm 'not winning', but that I'm being prevented from seeing what's around the next corner :)

Needless to say, good level architecture and texture design are important in my book. I'll never forget playing Dark Forces and, on a later level, walking aboard a Correlian Corvette for the first time. In seconds I was thrust back to my kidhood, watching the opening scenes of Episode IV. It was a delicious experience.
angela_la_la
Apr. 13th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
I play a very, very limited number of video games, but I'll try and answer this anyway. I've only played one thing on a television-based video game system ever, which is Parappa the Rapper. There are a couple of games I play on my computer: Snood, Tetris, The Sims, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. Mostly I just play Snood. I don't tend to see myself as someone with very good fine motor coordination, and I don't like the multiple buttons of a PS controller. I don't mind computer games with a mouse, or even a few (like, 3 or 4) keyboard commands. And I don't know if you are asking about arcade games or not, but at arcades I only ever play first person shooters (my favorite is House of the Dead). This is because I'm pretty good with a gun so the lack of button-pressing skill doesn't come into play.

When it comes right down to it, what separates games I like from games I don't like is who I'm competing against. I like to compete with other people in person, like in a board game, or else only against myself. I don't even like playing "against the computer". When I play the Sims I rarely play with the sim people, I just build and decorate little ghost towns. I don't know. I guess when I want to play a game for entertainment, I want it to be socially interactive--in other words, for the real value to be in companionship and the game to be secondary. I don't play Scrabble with strangers. When I play a game for relaxation, I want something relatively unstressful, not something to "work out my aggression". Games like Tetris, Snood, and sudoku fall into the pattern category. Build modes of games like the Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon are in the creative category. Games like Scrabble, logic puzzles, and other word games are in the brain-challenging category. I don't seem to "need" a category for bloodthirsty combat, or quest games, or cooperative multiplayer play. Who knows why.

The main benefits of games are, as I said, social interaction, plus keeping my pesky brain occupied in the hours when I'm not sleeping or working.
plug_in_tomato
Apr. 13th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
Sometimes I characterize eras of my life by the game I was playing at the time. At age 5, it was Super Mario Bros. At 8, it was Tetris. At 10, it was Cosmic Osmo (to this day I've never met anyone else who's heard of that game). At 13, it was a variety of MUDs. As a freshman in college, I underwent my first "heartbreak", and to ease the pain, I played the shit out of this silly little Flash game called Alchemy. As a sophomore, it was DAoC for about two months straight without coming up for air. Last summer it was Crack Attack (a cousin of Tetris Attack from SNES). So, I've been into all genres of games, except for FPSs really.
Now, I'm a programmer at a game company, and I'm writing little clicky games, on the order of "Airhockey" as someone above mentioned, for cellphones. I always kind of considered the eras of my life that had "Snood" or "Minesweeper" anywhere near them to be a waste of time, but I've rationalized it now, because I've validated my own guilty pleasure by being both the producer and the consumer of these games.
jsciv
Apr. 13th, 2006 07:01 am (UTC)
Well, the most obvious benefit to me is that I get a paycheck out of it. :)

Seriously though, I'm like several others here who use different games for different purposes: escape (WoW, RPGs), challenge (KH, Rollercoaster Tycoon (though also escape), Prince of Persia, some WoW), socializing (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Pacman Vs., Guitar Hero, DDR) and mindless fun (solitaire, minesweeper, bejewelled). I also play games just because I want to see why others think they're fun (most FPS's, GTA, Burnout, etc.), but that's back to the work thing. For me, there's so much of a mix between games and life that to really call playing games a "hobby" isn't really true to the word. For me it's so intertwined in who I am and what I do that games just .... are part of me.

Negatives? Sometimes I spend too much time with games and neglect other areas. Of course, that's rare since to some extent (the paycheck part) games are more serious business for me. But still, sometimes I do feel like I've been cooped up too long.....
eeedge
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
Positives: escapism (I'm not really living this far from the people I care about), stress relief (take *that* vile demon who I'm imagining as an intransigent student), social interaction (I'm usually on Teamspeak chatting with several people as I play, often not about the game at all), and I like feeling like I can make progress on SOMETHING, even if it is just virtual.

Negatives: it sucks my life away. I don't notice that three or four hours have passed. I'll stay up too late and be wiped at work the next day. I'll send my children to bed occasionally instead of putting them to bed (although at nearly 5 and nearly 8, that may not be so bad). Basically, the down sides are self-inflicted, but there nonetheless.
dimfuture
Apr. 13th, 2006 06:39 pm (UTC)
I have certain games that I like to immerse myself in (most recently, Oblivion), but there are a lot of games that I do like to just de-stress with. I've been playing Empire at War a lot, even though I don't find it remotely challenging to play the computer AI -- it behaves in very predictable ways, which I find kind of comforting. I can start it up, blow up some things, and then get back to whatever it was I was doing before.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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