Today is the Day Games Become Real

 Today is the Day Games Become Real

I want to share a secret with you. It’s up to you what you do with it, if you keep it to yourself, tell your friends, relatives or whoever, but I want to share it with you.

My secret is this. 

Games are real. 

Yes, that’s right, video games. For years we have been told that games are just fantasy, that the characters are not real, that the action that occurs in games doesn’t really happen in real life. But it does.

What am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about You.

You see, there’s this obscure and nonsensical notion that all of gaming is just make-pretend; that none of it is real. Yet the most important part of gaming is powerfully real. And the most important part of gaming is you: Your emotional, psychological reactions to games.

When you play Marcus Fenix in Gears of War 3 and you feel that sense of power and leadership. That’s real.

When you play Ryu and you feel like you could defeat any opponent that stands in your way. That’s real.

When you see a beautiful landscape in Uncharted and you feel free, as though you could go anywhere you wish and do anything you choose. That’s real.


Now I know for a fact that you, like me, feel positive emotional responses to games (it’s okay, you don’t have to tell anyone that games make you emotional. Don’t worry). But you do. You feel one of the five positive psychological rewards of gaming. And that’s good. That’s great.
What isn’t good is that you put that positive emotional response aside as soon as you finish playing. You see, this is how an average gamer’s gaming habit works:  

You go to work or school and sometimes you feel kinda weak and lame because you’re made to follow the lead of a teacher or a boss that you might not even like.  At these times, you cannot wait to go home and game so you feel that sense of power that you get from gaming (or whatever one of the Five Psychological Rewards you get from gaming).   

So later you go home and you play your game and you get your gaming fix and that’s great. After a couple of hours you’re feeling pretty rocking again and you can stop playing, if you want, because you’ve forgotten about work or school or w/e it is that was getting you down.  
But then when you finish playing you start thinking about work and school and you feel a little weak again.  
Then you go back to work / school and the whole damn process starts again and it keeps on going. Same shit different day, right?   

How do you get out of that pattern?  

You recognise that games are real.  
Your psychological  dependence on games is real: you need games to give you back the sense of power that life sometimes take away; that’s real. And your psychological response to games is real too: games really do give you back that sense of power. The problem is that you cannot play games whilst at work or school and so you must endure hours of feeling low when your boss/ teacher or whoever else gets you down. Thankfully, this is where the secret comes into play because, in truth, you can access those positive psychological rewards of gaming and that sense of empowerment at any time even when there is no game in sight.



Do this: Pretend you are performing the one piece of gameplay that makes you feel kickass. Here’s an example. I like to play Street Fighter on arcade stick. I use Ryu. I get a sense of empowerment by kicking the asses of scrubs online, and I love killing them with the traditional SRK > FADC > Ultra I. And in 5 seconds I can give myself that sense of empowerment that Street Fighter gives me simply by quickly performing with my hands the motion for SRK > FADC > Ultra.

Thanks to your muscle memory and countless hours of playing your favourite games, you have trained your brain to create a feeling of empowerment when you perform the hand motion  you perform when playing your favourite games. Here, doing the motion for SRK > FADC > Ultra creates a sense of empowerment even when I am not playing because of the power of my memory. And the same will be true for you and your own personal favourite gameplay moments. Go ahead and try it right now. Simply perform the motion with your hands that you would perform when playing your favourite game moment. You will naturally produce the same emotional response you feel  when you play the game.

So when you’re at work or school and the A-hole above you pisses you off. Just imagine doing Shoryuken, FADC Ultra, or whatever your personal fix of gaming is, and you’ll feel like your chilling online and kicking ass.

It’s amazing how beautiful the imagination can be!

More on Game Psychology

Psychology of RPG Games pt.1       Psychology of RPG Games pt.2           Benefits of Video Games           Video Game Characters    Psychology of Shooters            Why You Should Play More Games       Benefit of Adventure Games         Self Improvement Lessons from Gaming     Why we Play Games         Self motivation in Games         Gaming & The Purpose of Life     Games that make you feel Powerful   Games & Science   Action & Reward 


Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *