Games. They're fun. Most of the time. Why do we play them? I found myself recently asking this... not because I wasn't having fun; because in changing the way I play games, I started having a lot more fun... and also feeling guilty, but we'll get to that later.
After recent occurrences with Dark Souls and Dishonored, I’ve established that generally I play games for the story. Sure, it’s generally saving some form of world from some form of guaranteed annihilation but regardless, saving the world is generally an interesting enough pastime. "But Dark Souls barely has any story (unless you look for it), and the story for Dishonored was ‘good’ at best!" I feel you thinking. Well, it’s the fact that I’ve gone back to play these games again because the mechanic is fun that has brought it to my attention that I usually play for the story. Experiencing the same story over and over again isn’t as fun as teleporting on top of someone to rain down all forms of death is.
I regret the amount I haven’t experimented with games before tiring of them. I wish I had tried to pull off some awesome kills in Dead Island (which I finally completed with my friend last weekend!), such as actually learning to use the analogue controls instead of pissing myself at the jumping animation for about 5 minutes every single time we started playing. Granted, I could never get to grips with the analogue controls as I play with the Y-Axis inverted but it’s just an example. I didn’t take the time to make the game as much fun as it could have been.
I found Minecraft incredibly fun, until I ran out of ideas for things to make. After making a fully automated slaughterhouse (inspired by JJ) from gathered resources in Survival mode, I couldn’t think of anything else to do with the game, so perhaps it is my own creativity that limits my enjoyment of some games. I’d love to play with Gary’s Mod, but what the hell I’d do I don’t know.
I find Dark Souls fun due to the honour system that the hardcore have brought to it - I invade people’s worlds to kill them and set them back a bit (as many, many people did to me)... but whenever I do, I will make sure that they’ve seen me so we can have a fair fight. Then when they backstab me whilst I’m bowing I’ll get somewhat over excited about the whole dishonourable thing, but I also find that fun as I’ll often get to beat them down. After giving a beat down I’ll frequently feel bad and join a co-op covenant to help some people and redeem my soul.
Borderlands 2 is something else that is played for pure fun, despite actually having a bit of a story in this iteration. Not a session goes by where neither me or my co-op partner aren’t on the cusp of incontinence related embarrassment due to the writing in that game, but a lot of our enjoyment has stemmed from the enemies of this game. One specific enemy and his variants to be precise - the Goliath. Finding a Goliath is like finding a spindly headed pot of fun for us. As I’m sure many of you reading this will know, if you take the head off a Goliath, some tiny head grows in it’s place and the Goliath enters a form of Berzerker mode, attacking anything and everything. Simply dodging this monstrosity and getting them to kill their former allies is entertaining enough, but the most fun that can be drawn from them is getting them to fight one another. I can remember it now, we ventured out the back of Ellie’s scrap yard to find a lone house. Upon approaching, a Goliath emerged so we took his head off. Then another one did. And another... and another. After watching the Goliaths demonstrate the theory of natural selection, we were treated to something that neither of us expected - a Midget Goliath.
All I can say is that Borderlands 2 is yet to make me laugh quite as much as it did when showing me a Hulking Mass of Meat fighting a Raging Midget Goliath. Yes, the attack animations are pretty lame but my god. Fucking. Hilarious.
Dishonored compelled me to play the game in it’s different ways, providing both stealth and action orientated entertainment... but it also made me feel bad. I’ve never felt bad about ending the virtual lives of enemies before, especially when they belong to a religious cult that runs a city with an iron fist. I won’t spoil much as I’m sure not everyone has had a chance to complete or even try it yet, but all I can say is... when I got to the end of my “action” (read: killing everything) playthrough, the cliche thought of “What have I done?” crossed my mind.
So... why was I writing this again? Oh yes. Why do you play games? How do they make you feel?
Is it for fun?
Is it for the emotional experience?
Is it to feel like a badass when you save the universe from guaranteed extinction?
Or... is it simply because it allows you to do things that most of us will never get to, or want to have to, do in real life?
Let me know in the comments below, I’m genuinely interested!