Why We Game

in Gamer Thoughts

So the other day, before a we had a meeting, I was having a brief conversation with Mark, who on top of doing some great work working with designers on games we publish, writes some awesome articles for us over here at the blog, and we stumbled in on an interesting subject.

We were discussing the Borderlands series (I think I was mentioning wanting to grab the Handsome Collection), and he mentioned he didn’t think it would have been as fun playing solo. Which confused me because I almost exclusively played it solo, and consider Borderlands 2 one of the best games of the last 5 years.

Krieg doesn't need another player, he has the voice in his head to talk to.

Krieg doesn’t need another player, he has the voice in his head to talk to.

The part that was interesting about this is that we both play games for very different reasons. Which surprised me even more, because we had very similar opinions on a lot of design ideas, though I know we have disagreed on some things in the past (I believe I have a lot more love for traditional RPG mechanics than he does for instance), it never seemed like as broad of a gap in reasons to play as I thought.

Video games, for me, are a way to retreat away from social interaction. A way to recharge from having to deal with other people. Now, I like people, I just find them all a bit tiring. Things like MMOs, it just feels like stress to me to have to work on anyone else’s schedule.

Mark on the other hand, sees video games as a way to connect to other people. He likes multiplayer, even when playing single player games he will often stream the game for others to see. And of course, he loves just talking about games (to be fair, I love this part too, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken this job).

I did get to see a good peek at the PC HD version of Resident Evil while he steamed it. It looked awesome.

I did get to see a good peek at the PC HD version of Resident Evil while he streamed it. It looked awesome.

And other people I’m sure, play for many other reasons. They play for challenge. Or just to hear a good story. Or any combination of other reasons. I’m sure we all have a myriad of reasons, and sometimes, we can have conflicting reasons for why we play different games. When I sit down to play Sudoku on my tablet, it is absolutely for different reasons than I pop in Saints Row the Third.

And I feel like this is something we really need to be thinking about when designing: Why do we play? Why do other players play? Can we somehow use that information to make our games better? To be honest, I’m not really sure how to use the information this conversation brought to the forefront for me. I don’t really have all the answers. So why don’t you join the conversation below. Why do YOU game, and how do you think thinking about the reasons people game can improve our designs?

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  • Claire Lanham

    So, I mostly play single player, just as a way to relax and chill out. I like to engage a game, experience the world someone’s built and learn the story by myself, without anyone else there to colour my perception of it.
    But sometimes I do play multiplayer, and when I do it’s to hang out with buddies, and enjoy a game with them, and see the story from their point of veiw as well (I only like co-op multiplayer, I enjoy working as a group to take down the ‘big bad’). So, it’s kind of… a little of both.
    But mostly single player, because multiplayer is do darn hard to schedule as well!