Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Nov 12, 2005

Why I am a Gamer

I was going to post yesterday (no, really I was), but I got distracted by an urgent game of Dungeon Lords, and it was so late by the time I finished that I couldn't manage anything other than to go to bed. Today, I'm running a Mutants and Masterminds game at seven.

I've come under a fair bit of criticism over the years for being an avid gamer as it's a "life replacement" activity, so I thought I'd address the reasons why I have this hobby.

Personally, I think the reasons why anyone games are largely psychological. For me, it was the fact that as a young child it was something I could do purely for my own pleasure. Being creative, intuitive, and intelligent, I was also fairly good at it. My successes elicited approval from the people I found valuable. So, to me, it's a very positive experience, very fun, and I'm more than willing to put up with the occasional snags and reefs that prevent me from enjoying it all the time.

Isn't this why anyone likes to do something? So why is it that gaming enjoys such a bad reputation?

One of the things I've had quoted at me was Ayn Rand's "Open Letter to Boris Spasky" (reprinted in Philosophy: Who Needs It) where she explains that playing games (particularly chess) can act as a replacement for success in reality. The important fact, though, is that while this can be true it is not caused by the game, but by the individuals involved in it.

For me, games have always been a way to escape from the things in my life that were unreal to me; various bitter frustrations usually engendered by my inability to fight irrational people and escape from their influence. All games were a way for me to push the boundaries of the tiny world I was trapped in and discover, in a sense, the real world waiting outside, the one where I can actually act, work, succeed, and enjoy.

An escape, in other words, not from reality, but to it.

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