Games as Survival

Posted on August 24, 2010


Right now, as gamers, we spend almost 3 billion hours playing online games a week. You might think that is way too much time to be playing games, let alone only online games, but actually the opposite is true. 3 billion hours is nowhere near the amount of games we should be playing. Crazy? Hear me out.

Games give our life meaning. Historically, people have turned to games for entertainment when the going was rough. Thousands of years ago, Herodotus wrote about the Lydians (existing roughly around 12BCE) who survived a famine by playing games. The Lydians would make their food supply stretch by alternating days of playing dice games with days of feasting. This lasted for a good 18 years.

In today’s uncertain economic climate, literally millions of able-bodied and able-minded youths are either unemployed or underemployed. This makes perfect sense when you stop to think about how many college graduates work at places like Starbucks.

Many of these unemployed people have turned to video games as a cheap means of entertainment that allows them to feel the sense of achievement that they’re not getting in real life.

The conclusion is both simple and indescribably sad. Games give our life the meaning it otherwise lacks.

Games such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, or Counterstrike give gamers a system that they can distinguish themselves in. Not only this, but there’s a built-in community for these gamers to interact within.

Don't get sad, you can still play Madden.

Games are a sort of quick fix for the pains of modern life–they won’t solve anything, but it will sure make life a whole lot more bearable. If history is any indicator, things are going to get a whole lot worse before things get any better. But, on the flipside, at least the games will be good.

Jane McGonigal describes this theory in much greater detail in this video:

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