What if I told you that there’s an industry that’s more popular and more profitable than movies and music? What if I told you that that content category is gaming — more specifically, video games?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you would know that people can’t seem to pry themselves off their change to gadgets. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a desktop, laptop, or even a mobile phone.
It seems that the global marketplace for gaming continues to grow year after year. Even in the cryptocurrency platform, developers have started to pay attention to just how popular video games are, and This is why there is now such a thing as play-to-earn.
That’s right! You get paid to play video games. I’m talking real money too.
Games like CryptoBlades, Axie Infinity, CryptoKitties, and others are fast becoming popular. I suspect that it’s only a matter of time until larger, more massive games patterned after Call of Duty or World of Warcraft will make their debut on the play-to-earn platform.
Now that you have a rough idea of just how big gaming is, why do people love playing video games? Put in practical terms, don’t they have better things to do like raise a family, go to school, work out, hang out, or meet members of the opposite sex?
Well, it turns out that people love gaming for a wide variety of reasons, and these are hardwired in the pleasure centers of the human brain.
According to a comprehensive study published in the Cyberpsychology & Behavior journal in 2006, there are three components that motivate a person to play video games.
First, there’s a sense of achievement. A player feels good when they are able to reach the next level and the level after that. They are always comparing themselves with how other players are doing.
Next, there’s the social dimension. Most video games currently on the market enable players to get in touch with others. Either they work together in a group or for simple chatting. This keeps people in the community long enough for them to get hooked.
Finally, there is the immersion element. When you’re playing a video game, it’s completely different from watching a movie. When you watch something on Netflix, you are at the mercy of the person who wrote, produced, and acted in that movie.
It’s a one-way street. Either you like it or you hate it. There’s really nothing you can do to change what’s happening on the screen in front of you.
Not so with video games!
It’s as if you enter a world that you can interact with and ultimately change and to some degree control. This is what makes the video game experience so immersive. You not only see things, but you hear things. These all come together to create a very powerful experience.
This is not just a shallow phenomenon, mind you, because it impacts a core pleasure center in the human brain that is related to a sense of well-being. This can be summed up in a self-determination theory and how the psychological phenomena can be related to a passion for video games or even an addiction to them.
Self-determination theory refers to the human being’s need to be competent, autonomous, and related. All of these have an analogue in any video game.
When you first start out, you suck. Let’s just get that out of the way.
You don’t know how things work so you try things and you fail. But as you figure out the game, you become more competent. And this rising level of competence matched with a sense of exploration and adventure creates a mental state that truly immerses you in the game.
Also, when the challenges appear and they are well designed, they are just hard enough for you to want to keep trying. This is very important because the competence component of the self-determination theory won’t be satisfied if the game is too easy or too hard. It has to have the right balance for you to play the game to the point that you start to love it.
The next self-determination area affected by video games is the sense of autonomy. Everything is all about the creator and nothing about you.
Unlike in movies which as I’ve mentioned earlier are like one-way conversations, the only thing that you can control is whether you want to watch a movie or not, but other than that, the producer is in control. You’re not.
Well, when you’re in a video game, your sense of autonomy is reinforced because whatever decisions you make in the game will have an impact on your experience. This gives you a sense of control. With several choices available, this also leads to a sense of freedom.
It doesn’t feel like there is only one conclusion and only one way of doing things. This is an important component because, in many areas of our lives, we feel that we don’t have much choice.
In many cases, we feel that we live in a world we didn’t create, doing things that we couldn’t care less about, and basically living life that is far from living it on our own terms.
Videos games stand in stark contrast to this, and this is why a lot of people are attracted to them. You have a sense of freedom and control, and it is voluntary.
Put simply, you’re not forced into it, unlike a job or some sort of educational system or social structure.
Finally, people love playing video games because it allows them to relate to each other. It enables them to connect with other people and go through some sort of shared experience.
What if I told you that one of the best ways to establish life-long friendships is through shared experience?
Fraternities and sororities have known this for a very long time. That’s why there is such a thing as hell week.
When those fraternity brothers go through those 5–7 days of nasty experiences, they have something to talk about for the rest of their lives. They also went through a process that broke down inhibition and previous barriers or things that separated them, and they can connect and also depend on each other.
You have the same sense when you play a video game, especially if you play a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with a lot of people from all over the world. You learn to depend on each other. You also learn to stay connected and this gives people a social outlet.
Other Reasons Why People Love Gaming
Some people are in it for the novelty. There are just so many different games to choose from. If you get bored with one, you could try another.
You also get to develop a sense of competency and mastery over time — something that maybe they’re not getting or experiencing in their “real lives.”
There’s also a sense of risk-taking because every decision that you take has consequences, and what’s so awesome about a video game is that it is “safer” than the real world when it comes to risks.
Moreover, there’s the sense of competition because, let’s face it, a lot of people love comparing themselves to each other and when they see their name on that leader board, they feel that they’ve accomplished something, that they are somehow somebody. And this leads to a sense of excitement and accomplishment.
Finally, there’s a sense of escape, relaxation, and excitement about something you can control.