In today’s fast paced society gaming has become a considerable part of popular culture. With an estimated number of 2,8 billion (in 2021) active players around the world, video games are a considerable competitor to other (lean back) media. Video games have come a long way since the first games emerged in the 1970s: today’s video games have become much more mature in its design complexity and storytelling; they offer photorealistic graphics and simulate reality to a degree which is quite astonishing in many cases.
Play & prejudice
Playing games still has to contend with a few persistent prejudices, that are often not completely true or even just plain false: board games might be considered stuffy or childish, role-playing games ‘nerdy’ and some video-games are either considered brain-numbing or inductive to violent behaviour. While any excessive (or bordering on addictive) gaming activities could be rightfully considered harmful, it is important to look at some of the more beneficial effects of gameplay. Various researches have demonstrated that play greatly stimulates the brain. This is because our brain likes it when things are ‘right’. Games are invariably designed in such a way that we know that in the end everything can be solved. So our brains know that somewhere in the apparent chaos we are sometimes faced with in games, it’s possible to organize things. And that’s why our brains work so hard when we play games in accepting this challenge to overcome any problem that the game poses us.
TIP: watch the TED talk about ‘Your brain on video games’ by Daphne Bavelier, a neuroscientist at the University of Geneva.