Why We Play

Wil Wheaton’s Quote of the Day from Friday is an excellent one. He quotes Gabe from Penny Arcade.

I realised I don’t play games for the challenge. I don’t need or want to be punished by a game for making mistakes. I play games for what Ron Gilbert calls "new art". I play to see the next level or cool animation. I don’t play games to beat them I play games to see them. Coming to that realisation was actually sort of important for me.

What’s interesting is that Gabe’s words are in response to Tycho’s earlier post on the subject which I find even more interesting.

Stars in single player are, for me, irrelevant. I’m sure this makes me a scoundrel. I only care about stars in co-operative multiplayer, where I see them as an index of our indomitable band spirit. I want a measurement of our unity. I’m playing the same game for an entirely different purpose.

And to me it sounds like that "different purpose" is to play games for the simple experience of it, something which Gabe seems to concur with when he says "I play to see the next level or cool animation". That’s something I couldn’t agree more with. At heart I’m an explorer and I love just wandering through a game seeing what there is to see and experience. For example, when I played World of Warcraft, I would just spend hours wandering the world, crossing mountain ranges, and exploring areas off the beaten track. It also why I enjoyed simple games like Zork so many years ago.

Another important thing that Tycho relates to is this desire to see a "measurement of unity". When he said that, I felt like a deep chord had been struck within me. We need more games today that relay, teach, and highlight the values of cooperation in a positive way instead of a negative derogatory manner where the end effect is that you almost don’t want to play games that require teamwork (i.e. Team Fortress 2). I’ve still got hope though. I mean games like Warbirds and Allegiance in the past relayed the positive effect of teamwork and didn’t punish you severely if your teamwork wasn’t perfect. That’s because even though you lost, the experience of the game was still enjoyable (and epic at times). Anyways I’m sure there are game designers out there that realize this and will take advantage of this in future games.