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Video Games as an Entertainment Medium

(WARNING – THIS IS A RANT)

In a lot of ways, video games are socially associated with a lack of maturity, a childish activity, and a “waste of time” among the general public. It has gotten much better over time, but still people find that other leisurely activities are a better use of time. Why is that? Are video games not activities just like any other, where as long as you enjoy spending time on it, it is not considered a waste of time?

Traditionally, entertainment mediums have been one-dimensional; you were shown an experience that you could not impact in any way, and the only action required on the consumers part was moderate attention. Watching movies and TV shows are a prime culprit of this – staring at a screen not interacting with it in any way is somehow socially more acceptable than interacting with an on-screen experience. Video games require thinking, hand-eye coordination, and attention. TV shows and movies only require that you watch, not interact. Video games require you to create the experience around you in a multi-dimensional way, rather than only experience what has been created for you in a very one-dimensional way. Multi-dimensional entertainment mediums are the way of the future, and while traditional one-dimensional sources will likely never cease to exist I believe that certainly they will look for more ways to interact with their audience.

Virtual reality is finally advancing to the point of true realism, video games are becoming more life-like in their visuals and mechanics, and the vehicles the aforementioned entertainment mediums are becoming more advanced. Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and even smartphones are now capable of displaying nearly every form of entertainment options at the consumers fingertips. Gaming is at the forefront of this, particularly the Xbox One although the PS4 also has suitable capabilities. With the Xbox One, you can interact with what you are watching, launch any major entertainment through any major app, and even watch that entertainment while watching or playing another form of entertainment. Not only that, gaming on one of the current generation consoles allows you to access a variety of features like broadcasting gameplay for others to view for their pleasure. Truly, video game consoles provides a mutli-dimensional experience in a multitude of ways.

More than meets the eye – It can do practically any entertainment option you want.

 

Last console generation, there were over 85 million of both the Xbox 360 and PS3, and over 100 million of the Nintendo Wii sold. How is this not a mainstream thought yet; video games are an entertainment medium like any other, and in some cases are powerful than the rest. The current generation (regarding the Xbox One and PS4) is outselling last generation by over 40% according to statistics by VgChartz. That means that we can expect over 100 million Xbox One’s and PS4’s in the homes of consumers during their roughly 10 year lifespan. That provides an opportunity for a lot of video game sales and, more importantly, a larger overall impact in the entertainment marketplace.

An interesting demographic to take a look at – people of all different demographics play.

Judging video games as a waste of time is a Jurassic way of looking at the medium; it is the same word as saying watching hockey is a waste of time for a fan of Hockey, it has no footing. People can enjoy what they want to enjoy and should not be criticised for whatever entertainment option they prefer. I believe that this avenue of thought trails back to the days of video games being primarily a thing for young kids to play without having friends, or to enjoy something without having to be physically adept at something, say, being on the high school football team was considered “cooler” than having the high score on Space Invaders. Although this thinking has been diluted in time, there is still remnants of this train of thought in public opinion and it is evident in a lot of people in the 30+ years range. Why play video games when you could be watching golf? Because I prefer to interact with my entertainment rather than observe it. Not to knock golf – I love golf. And sometimes I would rather just observe than interact, but I find that video games are much more rewarding than a one-dimensional entertainment experience. And most people who begin to play video games quickly realise that in most cases it is a more functional and interactive experience, certainly not a waste of time.

So when people ask me what I did last night, I am not embarrassed to say I went home and played video games for a few hours, because to me it is the exact same thing as going home and watching TV or Netflix for a few hours. The only difference is that my form of entertainment allows me to interact with it, otherwise it is an entertainment medium like any other. I intend to play video games my entire life, and though my available time for them will continue to shrink as they have been in recent years I will always enjoy my time interacting with entertainment in a way that frankly cannot be copied. I am proud to say that I have enjoyed some of my free time experiencing an entertainment that was not simply shown to me, but one that I played for myself.

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