Videogames: The medium that makes you proud.

I saw a video on youtube in which a comedian mocked the point that no medium other than video games denies a part of itself to you if you aren’t good enough at it. I have two responses.

First, most media do deny a part of themselves to you if you aren’t good at comprehending them. This works on two levels: For one thing, you have to actually pay attention to what’s going on. People who try to multitask or lose interest in, say, a film are the ones asking me ¾ of the way through “What’s going on? Why did that character do/not do that thing?” For another thing, if you fail to think critically about the movie, you miss larger messages and ideas and themes the movie has. This goes for other entertainment media as well: my 11th and 12th grade English classes demonstrated to me how much depth there could be in a book, and how devices from syntax to imagery can add substance to the book not explicitly stated on the pages. If you aren’t good at reading, watching, or listening, the medium denies you its full meaning and significance.

Second, Todd Howard (in last year’s D.I.C.E. keynote) pointed out that video games allow players to feel pride. People are rarely “proud” after reading a book (unless it was excessively long or written in a way difficult to get through), or watching a movie or listening to an album. Everyone feels good after beating a hard level or solving a puzzle or overcoming a challenge. Bad video games “deny” themselves to you if you “aren’t good enough.” Good video games help you and motivate you to use the tools you have to overcome a challenge and be rewarded with what you seek (great story, more killing, new puzzles, etc.) If video games did not offer a challenge, there would be no potential for pride.

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3 responses to “Videogames: The medium that makes you proud.

  1. If games weren’t meant to contain challenges (they wouldn’t really be games then), I’d likely agree with the comedian, but as it is they are sorely mistaken. I also very much agree on the point that good video games are meant to motivate you to finish. I would measure what makes a game good by that, for sure.

    Great post.

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