What is the allure of gaming? In thinking about this I wondered what things IÂ could do instead of playing games. When the weather is nice (and it’s not dark by 4:30pm – Pacific Northwest short days) I could be doing outdoor things. Being outdoors and exercising beats out gaming so there needs to be a balance for sure. We can’t have our kids playing games and not getting any exercise or interacting with nature or the real world. For fall and winter at least I have a treadmill (I’m from Miami, FL so 30 degree weather is more than my body can handle and since losing weight I am cold a lot). My kids don’t use the treadmill but both of them have PE at school so I’m counting on the school to provide opportunities for physical activity.
So what other indoor activities could I do when it’s dark and cold outside way before I even get home? I could watch TV. I could watch a movie. I could listen to music or the radio. I could read a book. All of those are passive in that I’m just a spectator waiting for the story to unfold by eagerly watching/listening or by turning the page. A game, on the other hand, puts me in charge of the story. I’m not just waiting to see what happens to the protagonist, I get to BE the protagonist. I can change the protagonist’s fate by how I play the game. That is so much more engaging and exciting to me. I think that is also highly motivating and engaging for kids. They get to be in control, something they seek more and more as they get older.
Games more than ever now have a cooperative component. It’s so easy for a kid to get online and start a game where they can interact and play with kids from anywhere in the world. When I first played games online I was, and pretty much still am, very shy. I mostly play on my own rather than walk up to a strange avatar and ask for help. When my own kids play online they are very comfortable interacting with others (which is why we need to monitor!). There’s a strong social aspect added to the interactive/being-in-control aspect.
This is the allure of gaming.