Exploring the correlation with happiness and video games

AUGUST 9, 2020

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How’s it going everybody, Adrian Simple here from The Gaming Observer for Sunday, August the 9th. Today, we are going to talk about video games and happiness. I think we’ll have a lot of fun, let’s start the show.
 
Before we get into it here, I just wanted to say thanks for your patience with the show recently. As you probably know I have a new job now, however I also ran into some health issues recently. Nothing to worry about, it’s not unfamiliar territory, but if you don’t hear from me it’ll probably be for one of those reasons. Anyway, what I wanted to talk about today was the correlation between video games and happiness. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I started working, because I haven’t really had time to play games, but when I do, it brings me a lot of joy. So what is it about video games that does that? 
 
I pushed this question to the Discord server and the most common response was that it’s a form of escapism, right? This idea that life is tough, and we can forget those problems by escaping into a different world. Jason here mentions that he loves games for the same reason his wife loves reading; it’s a trip to a different world where you experience things that you couldn’t otherwise. And you know, that’s something you could say for a lot of entertainment mediums, right, there’s reading, movies, television. But I think there’s such a strong connection with games because it specifically involves us. We are controlling something in the world, we are involved some way as a person. Matt here actually mentions this specifically, saying “…games provided me with experiences I would probably never have…I dreamed of being a secret agent after watching 007 movies, so I got to experience that…I was a mediocre goalkeeper in school, but in FIFA I could be the great attacker who scored all the goals.” And I think the more that developers can lean into that with their design, or even the more we as players can lean into that with our own playstyles, the more effective that escapism can be. Jason also shared an awesome quote here which I’ve never heard, it says “I dont play games because I have no life, I play games because I have thousands of lives.” You can be anybody, you experience anything…I really connect with that.
 
Something else that was mentioned a lot was the childhood experience with video games, where we are growing up with these experiences, and learning how to live in the world with video games being a part of it. Crimson said that they started as a kid with reading, because of their immersive experiences, we just talked about that. But when they found out that video games allowed you to be a part of the experience, that brought a lot of joy. Here’s what they said “Even if the story was barely there or the language prevented me from understanding it, my imagination did all the work.” And who has a better imagination than children, right? The other here comes from Ricky, who had a really powerful story to share. He got a Playstation 1, and his first allowance of 15 dollars. His dad took him to the flea market, and he picked up a JRPG called Grandia, that’s a pretty well-respected game. And here’s what he said about reaching the end of it, “I climbed this really tall wall in the game, and it was month-long affair to get there, but the moment I got to the top, it was transcendent. It was the perfect answer to a question I never asked. I fell in love with the game, and spent more time with gaming since.” Having an experience like that at the age of 6 or 7, that’s going to be formative. And it makes a lot of sense why gaming in general could bring so much happiness after that point.
 
The only other thing I want to talk about here is I guess what you would call the practicality of games. For example, Vaderag mentions how the versatility and variety of the gaming medium is what makes them happy. “With reading you need to be fully involved, movies you need sound, but games can be played with distractions, no sound, full involvement, or with other people.” And that’s something I can definitely resonate with, I personally love games because of how many different ways I can play them. And especially the last one, with other people. Phatom said that’s what makes him happy, “the best of part of video games is all to do with connecting with friends in an environment that everyone is comfortable.”
 
Folks, I wanted to talk about this today to remind you that video games are here to make us happy. You might be someone who gets angry, or depressed, or anxious when it comes to video games, or content creators, or any other entertainment medium. I want to encourage you to take a break, identify where that is coming from, and then revisit with a positive mindset. I created The Gaming Observer to celebrate video games in my own way, and I hope that I’m able to make that happen for you as well.