Video Games and the Experience

Video games have been a part of the technological boom beginning in the mid-20th century in a little lab of MIT. During the expansion of video games into the daily culture of the average person, groups of scholars, players, and people who never played a video game have stepped forward to describe the overall experience. A game has multiple components that offer an experience for the player. This creates a lasting memory on that player about whether a game holds replay value or rejection of playing the game ever again. Some attach to the idea of that a great experience is linked to great game design. Others focus on the competition of the game that creates the experience. Experience is the center of all gameplay and the player creates that experience.

At MIT in Massachusetts in the 1960’s, a small group of computer engineers created a small game that represented tennis, that later was represented by the game of Pong. This represented the mutually accepted beginning of video games. Pong provided an experience that was very different than the story arcs and visual graphics that are present today. It offered a supplement for the competitive behavior in human nature. There has been a link made by scholars of the amount of interactivity and enjoyment that comes back to the root of competition in video games[i]. In Pong, there were two lines that moved up and down based on the players’ control, and a ball that would go back and forth between the lines. Though it does not seem like a competitive game in today’s terms, at the time, it was a completely new game available to those willing to pay for the game.

Games can be seen through any age category for any type of competition. Normally seen typically stronger in combative video games, competition can be seen with any game type. This provides a large platform for both ages and genres of experience, making games of any kind an experience for any person. Vorderer stated specifically for combat games, “Facing the two key components of the situation, i.e. the available possibilities to act and the arising necessity to act, the player will try to resolve the task by performing the appropriate and effective actions.[ii]“ Vorderer is a scholar heavily focusing on video games and their affect on the human mental environment. He connects the player acting on a specific event and the player understanding the necessity for the action, in order to define an experience for the game.

Does the player need to make the experience, or is it the responsibility of the game designer to create the atmosphere to entice the player enough for a forced experience? An engulfing game can easily create the need to continue playing in a positive manner by story alone. Games are slowing becoming an interactive movie all their own. Some huge name companies like Bungie, Microsoft Studios, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Rockstar, and many more have billions of dollars to invest towards new games for the sole purpose of making expansive worlds that take the gaming world by storm[iii]. Small companies take on these giants and created a world all their own to take a specific group of players. Those small companies are creating the term “Indie Games”, and are actually succeeding through making experience a focus on game design outside of a storyline. They use a focus on textures, sounds, and other aesthetic values. Both the larger companies and smaller companies focus on the aspect of game design in order to create an experience for the players without relying on them to create an experience.

Experience is something that video games rely heavily on in order to create a lasting impression. Most seek out being the best they can be, while other games sink to very depths of being considered the worst game ever created. All of these games can expect a communication between the game designer and the player, but sometimes, this can be done through different responsibilities. Is it the player to create the experience through competitive nature? Or is it the sole responsibility of the game designers? The competitive side of human nature means a strong experience left behind. It means the player will continue to play and even make the game have an even stronger replay value, which allows the competitive streak to kick into full gear. Either way, game designers and players will continue to make a lasting impression on each other and will rely on each other with the experience of game play in video games for the future.

[i] Vorderer, Peter. “Introduction.” In Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006.

[ii] Vorderer, Peter. “Playing Computer Games: A Sequence of competitive Situations.” In Explaining the Enjoyment of Playing Video Games: The Role of Competition. Los Angeles, California: Annenberg School for Communication, 2003.

[iii] Donovan, Tristan. “A Library in a Fish’s Mouth.” In Replay: The History of Video Games. Great Britain: Yellow Ant, 2010.

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