Games are addictive. We could do whatever we wanted in games without any consequences, whether it is killing other people in an Massive Multi Player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), hijacking a car and killing people in Grand Theft Auto or simply shooting at whomever we see in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). We can be whomever we want, from an assassin fighting for a noble cause to a top tier soccer manager or even a powerful clan leader in an MMORPG, games offer us a way to be someone of achievement and status, something most of us can never hope to achieve in real life.
Games offer us an escape from the harsh reality. Games allow us to live in our fantasy. Games allow us to be free and without consequences. Games offers us the recognition if we do well in it, just like in real life. But this is what I think is the most appealing factor in game – that we can succeed with much certainty. We can keep trying and trying, and one day succeed. If I cannot clear a mission or a dungeon, I simply try again and again until I cleared it, no matter how many times I died. If I make a wrong move, I can restart the game. I can even save or pause a game and read a guide or two before attempting it again. If I try hard enough, success is guaranteed.
The safety net against failures and certainty of success is one of the most important aspects of every games. If I die in an MMORPG, the worst that can happen to me is the dropping of loot and experience points. If I grind enough monsters, I am certain to level up. But failure in real life is not so simple. You lose money, you lose opportunities, you lose respect and sometimes relationships (family ties, friendships, romantic relationships). You do not get to redo, for there is no save games to turn back time. You do not have the power of ‘hindsight’ like that of restarting a mission and knowing what will come next. Unlike MMORPG where you definitely can level up after killing a certain number of monsters, there is no guarantee that studying a certain number of hours will mean a particular concept is burned into your brain, nor any confirmation that putting a certain number of hours at work will mean a promotion. Your party members do not suddenly turn around and PK (player kill) you during a boss raid, but your bad-hearted colleagues could flip and sink you while working on an important project. A boss successfully taken down would mean a variety of loot ‘fairly’ distributed among the party by luck, but completion of a project does not necessarily mean credit and reward is distributed fairly in accordance to merit. This, is the harsh reality of life which everyone of us knows.
That is why games are so appealing.
Many of us are nothing and nobody in real life. Real life is not entertaining. The path to success is met with many roadblocks, be it ‘natural’ or man-made. But we are living in the real life. We are not living in a game. Even if we are the guild master of a powerful clan or in the best team of a game, we still have to come back to reality. A minority of gamers could cash out their success in games to the reality we live in, such as the pro-gamers who win the DOTA championships. But whatever the case, there is without a doubt we live in the reality and have to come back to reality. For those who can cash out their success in games, good for them. But for the overwhelming majority of us, nobody is going to care if you are a famous character in MapleStory.
Games are appealing. I was playing 12 hours a day in my late teens and early 20s, burning through a good part of my youth. I do not regret it, though if given a chance to go back in time, I would not have done that. To me it was a rite of passage, something many guys would do it. For the girls, drama is their equivalent addiction. Either being a pretty girl chased after by a prince charming, or an ordinary woman fighting her way up towards success, or living the fun high school life we can only dream of, these drama or movies satisfy the psychological need and cravings which can never be filled in real life.
We are living in reality. As much as we tried to live life as if it is a game, or to work towards a future just like in the movies, things do not always turn out the way we expect it to be. But despite this, we have to face the world we are in. We have no choice. We may escape temporarily into games or dramas to de-stress for a bit everyday after work, but that should not be the world we are living in. Reality may be harsh, but that is why we need to work and achieve success in reality. If not, till the day we die we will forever be suffering in this reality so many of us hate so much. Furthermore, as you age, for how much longer are you able to play games or binge on dramas? As I grow older, there are times when I jump into games for hours each day. But each time, after less than 2 weeks or a month, I stop playing and go back to work on my reality. There are times when I just told myself I wanted to continue playing games like what I did in my teens, or even if it is 2 hours everyday, to keep at it for the longer term. But I realised I could not. I believe there are other adults who can keep at the games for prolonged periods of time, but is that really the best for you?
Face what you do not like. Work hard at it. Turn it into a reality you like. It will not be easy. But it is far more terrible to continually live in a reality till the day you die, knowing you can do something about it but choosing not to.