Push Start

Written by: Athena Lim (19-A4)

Designed by: Athena Lim (19-A4)


People consider video games another avenue to escape from reality, and for good reason. Of course, you’ve heard the usual pitch: video games cause violence, are addictive and a waste of time. All these people have likely heard it too.  If the claims hold true, why do people, despite this, play video games?


Percentage uncertainty: 0%

A game, in essence, is programmed to do specified, predetermined tasks; a character will always respond to certain stimuli in a certain way, enemies will have pre-set abilities, et cetera. Walkthroughs can often be found online, allowing players to find out more about the weaknesses of that upcoming boss, and even spoil a surprise encounter that might happen. In contrast, reality brings with it the daunting uncertainty of human interaction, with a single unplanned factor snowballing into a huge problem without warning. In a way, video games allow us to take a step back and do some risk assessment: while we may not always be able to change other factors, we can predict them and prepare accordingly. Does spotting questions count? In any case, you didn’t hear it from me!


The world is your oyster

The freedom to rewind time by saving and reloading the game is an obvious safety net, with no cost for doing so most of the time. Of course, this is a good chance to learn from mistakes, for most games involve a specific strategy which can be applied in real life, such as studying methods. With the mid-years approaching, it’s wise to know whether mindmaps or audiobooks, for instance, work better for you. I personally like rewriting notes more than re-reading them. One has the luxury of time in the player-centric world of a game – the plot simply will not progress until the player does. Alas, the real world isn’t half as patient, and deadlines are a thing we cannot avoid; perhaps a reminder to study for our lecture tests, and Mid-year Examinations?


You’ve gained 100 experience points! Level up!

Most games have an experience system, where doing the most menial tasks will eventually net you enough experience to ‘level up’, and many challenges can be overcome through ‘grinding’, the potent mixture of brute force and endless time.  In reality though, you’d likely make little headway if you work without a plan. Everyone has had that moment when our brains felt like a leaky bucket, our hours and brain cells seeping away when studying. Work smart, not work hard, as the adage goes, and remember that your time is limited.


Double or nothing.

Hard work pays off, remember? The sense of accomplishment from finishing a hard level, for example, is certainly a factor in their popularity. The risk-reward system is a huge pull, sure, but how much is the risk? For some games, it is simply a matter of in-game currency, which may take time to earn, but is renewable nonetheless. Though taking any risks is up to our own discretion, we can certainly agree that the rewards are much better, considering that losses can be recouped easily, whereas a missed opportunity in real life is often just that, with little to no chance of a similar one. Some games play on that, extending their reach a little further into the real world, offering (marginally) better chances for better in-game equipment in exchange for a taste of our wallets.


On the other hand…

Video games aren’t all doom and gloom, for they do offer an immersive way of experiencing a story. As such, while video games may be a pretty bad representation for the twists and turns of life, it is those differences that draw people to playing them. The rich backgrounds of some role-playing games, for instance, with blossoming communities of like-minded individuals creating and expanding upon that world, such as through fiction or art, is a powerful pull for some, and an invaluable chance to live an impossible dream vicariously for others. Strategy too plays an important role, precariously treading the line between being easy enough to grasp readily, yet intricate enough to engage long-time fans and the competitive scene (Though it largely depends on the genre and intended audience of the game – for instance, Pokémon, which appeals to both older and younger fans, has a much gentler learning curve than other games).

No matter what games you play, I’m sure they’ve had some impact on our lives, and it is up to us to sift through and learn from them.

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With great power comes great responsibility.

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