I have spent a lot of time in my life playing games which amounts to many thousands of hours. So, what kept me hooked in? What is in it for me? Why are these games both amazing and deadly at the same time? That is what I am going to discuss with you now.
A quick history
While most of the time I spent playing games was on DOTA 2 & Age of Empires II, I have played and completed lot of other games as well like FIFA, NFS Most Wanted, GTA Vice City, Spider Man, Project IGI I, Project IGI II, Hulk, Transformers, Age of Mythology and even old games like Road Rash, Mario, etc.
Of all these, I played DOTA 2 & AOE II online competing with a lot of people and having fun almost all the time.
Why all these games interested me…
I love to be competitive. I love computers and almost anything which comes with it. I love adventure, suspense, story and almost anything nerve chilling. I sometimes prefer to be with myself more than with others. I love being rewarded for achievements and I preferred getting punished for failures, it brought a sense of desire to win in me.
These games gave me everything I wanted but took one important thing away from me. TIME!
So, do I regret playing these games? My answer to that is NO without a doubt.
So, what did these games give me?
- A way to quench my thirst for competition in things that I liked.
- Helped me divert myself from things that I wanted to forget, and trust me when I say this.. I had a lot to forget.
- A way to interact with people in various geographies.
- Kept me always occupied without even giving me a sense of loneliness.
- Changed the way I think and sometimes, I even applied the concepts I learnt in this virtual world in the real world and it really did work out well.
- Helped me understand how to strategize, lead, organize and adapt to scenarios and most importantly brought patience in me.
- Made me a team player and be selfless and work towards the goal rather than worrying about the noise in the path.
So, how are all these games able to provide such an amazing experience?
- Rewards You are rewarded for every good thing you do and you are penalized for every bad thing you do. This makes the arena more fun and competitive for everyone.
- Matchmaking When you play online games, you often don’t know your opponents, their skills or strategy. This makes it more interesting and most of the times, a good mutual learning experience. This helps you face anyone, anytime, anywhere.
- Goals You are always given goals to achieve in almost every game and your victory is based on the goals you achieve. Everything else on the way is noise and you need not even bother about it. So, even if you mess up badly, you can always have some way or the other to achieve your goal. So, this keeps everyone motivated to stay till the end.
- Penalties Almost all good online games have penalties if you cross the line. This enforces qualities like being good to your team mates and the opponents, staying till the end of the game without abandoning in the middle, avoiding malpractices, etc. and this helps in keeping the environment organized and good.
- Knowledge, Skill, Strategy & Execution This is very important in almost every game. You need all 4 of the qualities in a team to win. Lacking even one of them can cost you a lot. You need to have knowledge about the game and its scenarios, have skill to use the tools provided to you, be quick and develop a strategy to win and most importantly, work as a team to execute the strategy which was formulated.
- Trust You must trust your team mates to do the right thing at the right time. Else, you are doomed most of the time. Most of these online games are team games and you need to bet on your team mates to win.
- Time Management You have to use the time given to you wisely. You must know what to do, when to do and how to do. In most of these games, you should keep a close eye on the timer which will give you an idea on when to attack, when to defend and when to build up. There are peak points in most games which tells when you are strong and when you are weak. You must build your strategy based on this.
- Morale Like in the real world, your opponents will try to bring you and your team down to the ground, and it is the morale of the team which wins games. You have to keep both your and your team’s morale up all the time, and motivate them, no matter what the situation is. You can even come out of a defeat, if you believe in winning.
- A creative environment The virtual world is endowed with creativity since everything is made from the ground up by people like us with brilliant minds. It brings in more and more creations which all of us really enjoy. Some games also allows people to submit their own creations to be used by the rest of the community which also helps the creators in getting some much deserved income.
- Money, Fame & Fans While this may not be for all, people love watching professionals play and they really fall for them. Games have started giving a viable career to opt for if you are good enough with good money based on your skill set. Some game companies also conduct huge tournaments around the world with insanely large prize pools to attract people to the game. But, I would say this is just an outcome and not the reason why I mainly play games.
So, what is the difference between a real world & the virtual world?
- UNDO-ing actions The important difference between a game and an actual life is that, you are afraid in the real world when doing something because one single wrong action can completely change the direction of your life and you may not be able to undo it. But, in the virtual world, if you loose, you can always try again if you have the thirst to achieve your goal.
- Rewards Unlike the virtual world, you may or may not be rewarded for your actions. There are not many rules to govern these. So, you may tend to loose motivation.
- Unclear goals While you know what to exactly do next in a game, you may not know that in your real life since you are the one who sets goals in your life while the goals are already set in a game and all you have to do is work towards it.
- Opinions & Noise While you can ignore opinions and noise in the virtual world, it is often difficult to ignore them in the real world since they can have serious consequences in your life. Your thoughts are often polluted and sometimes, you are not sure if you are living for the world or yourself.
- Biased & Opinionated When we come to the virtual world, there is no room for bias since all the rules and rewards are predefined and it is the same for everyone while this is not the case in the real world where it is full of bias and most often the right people are not given the much deserved rewards.
So, am I playing games even now? I stopped playing games some time ago since I had to consider a lot of things.
- INCOME We need a stable income to survive if you are not a professional. Even if you are, you may not be in form all the time. Income here is dependent mostly on your wins and is not a fixed salary unless you join some really good teams. Still, you have to regularly prove yourself to stay in there.
- TIME Since I wanted to do a lot of things in life, just sticking to a game was eating up a lot of time leaving very less time for other things which I wanted to do. So, I had to make a decision asap.
- PRESSURE FROM PARENTS & RELATIVES We live in an era where most of the parents and relatives are not supportive of your thirst to become a professional gamer. Its difficult to make them understand and I hope, we will understand the scenario better when we become parents ourselves. They consider gaming as an addiction and compare that to being an alcoholic while I considered it a passion and there is a thin line between both. They want their child to have a good income, and come out of the idiot box as they call it.
- CHANGING NATURE OF GAMES Some games changed the environment from being competitive to support newcomers. They made it easier, reducing competition, changing ranks to grades, etc. which I did not personally like. People have to face the hard truth that life is never going to be easy till they face the challenges head on. So, I would recommend games to change back to the way they were.
- HEALTH & FITNESS Staying hooked in front of the computer can be a huge toll on your health since you are spending a lot of time without physical exercise and I had to come out from that
- ANGER MANAGEMENT I noticed that as time went by and I became more and more serious with gaming, I started shouting at anyone who tried to disturb me while playing affecting their emotions. I never meant that but I was often pissed off when people disturbed me in the middle. So, I had to fix myself as well.
So, my final conclusion?
While games are good and can help a person in various ways, we must be able to balance the real world and virtual world. Games must help us in the real world and not be a hindrance in our regular life.
So, I would suggest everyone to try their hands on in one game or the other but have control on it. If you get addicted, the only way you are going to truly come out of it is by self control.
I left playing DOTA 2 many times before, got back again within a few weeks and left again and I am happy that I have left it for good now and I clearly see a path toward the future.
And to parents, you must understand that gaming is not a crime. You just need to make sure your wards have the proper time management to do the same.