The power of the gaming experience: Can games affect people?

Games have power. They have the power to entertain, to teach and to spread light on issues that we face as people. What makes games so great is that it provides an active experience where the player is engaged with the medium, rather than just passively sitting, listening or watching. This is what makes the gaming industry the largest in the world! But with all of this engagement, one has to ask the question "What is this actually doing to me" because games affect people. Either positively or negatively.

There is a video on youtube about a guy dissecting his experience with The last of us. He says that he never wanted children. He thought that they were just crazy and little devils straight out of Hell! But then he played the last of us. (If you haven't played the last of us, buy a ps3 & PLAY IT! It is an experience worth having!)

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Anyway he says that upon seeing the relationship and the bond that the two protagonists Joel and Ellie had, it made him want to have a daughter. I remember watching that and thinking, "THAT is what games should do". It should be an experience that touches the player and leaves them changed after putting down the controller. That is the power of games.

Games can change people. Games can teach people. Games can broaden peoples imagination to what could be possible. And games can bring people together & provide memorable experiences.

So what are your thoughts on games and its power? How do you think games affect people? And are there any games which have affected you in some way. Id love to hear from you guys because I believe that this medium can be harnessed to convey messages that our world today desperately needs to hear.

Hope to hear from you beautiful people!
Stay safe and happy gaming.
Thanked by 2pieter BenJets


  • Hi @Eagan! Thanks for initiating this cool conversation! I'd love to see more of this sort of stuff on the forums.

    I'm totally with you on the fact that games have huge potential for deeply impacting on players and bringing about real change in how they might think or act. I think one of the most powerful aspects of this is how games can help instill and grow empathy in players. Games place players in the shoes of a character like no other medium, and this can really help people see things from different perspectives, empathising with people different to themselves, which is fantastic.

    If you're going to be at A MAZE this year, you should try check out the talk I'll be giving, which ties in quite well with this topic. I'll be looking at how the creations of others can inspire participants to become creators themselves. I see this as forming an ongoing dialogue, shifting through genres and branching out into ever more complex creative worlds.
    Thanked by 1Eagan
  • Generally called Serious Gaming - or Gamification (I prefer the former).
    Thanked by 1Eagan
  • Hi @BenJets! Welcome to the forum.

    I like what you said about how games can instill a sense of empathy in the player. Ive seen this in done in a few games. This war of mine is a games where you play in a war-torn environment. The player doesn't play as the ultimate hero who saves the day, but rather as the innocent bistanders trying to survive. I think this game can make one understand what the people in places like Syria go through, where wars put their lives in constant danger. It gives the player the ability to empathize with them; maybe not fully understand, but empathize.
    Theres another game that I cant quite remember the name of, but in this game I think you're foreigner trying to make a living by manning your own stall. You sell things to get money do that you can buy food & such. So if you get hungry you obviously have yo buy some food. Only problem is that you're a foriegner and you dont know where to buy food, so you consult the map. The map you have is in a different language and the game doesnt automatically tell where everything is. You can try to ask for directions but you dont know the language so you cant understand. This makes you feel truly helpless. It makes one get a glimpse of the life that some people lead. The people that were uprooted from their homes because of things like wars and such. The refugees in Europe. It makes you empathize.
    I could go on but I think the is point is made. You're totally right. Games let you walk a thousand miles in someone else shoes, to see things from their perspective. And in the process it grows empathize in the player. Also a perfect example of how games can get the player to see things another's perspective is Paper,please. You play as the person responsible for stamping peoples passports at an airport. You check to see if their documents are correct and if they are you stamp approved, else you stamp declined. You get paid for stamping correctly and you use the money to buy food and medicine for your family. Then laws get passed that make checking passport more difficult, theres more paper work. Then your child gets sick and you need medicine but you're not getting paid enough to buy it. Then a man says he'll pay you to approve his passport, another pays you to decline almost everyones, another begs you to let his wife through. All this puts pressure on the player. Is it wrong to take a bribe to buy your dying child medicine? These are things that the player will wrestle with, & its brilliant. It makes one see that good people dont do bad things for no reason. Its often their circumstances that drive to it.
    Lol but ya games are powerful.
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Hi @carteki. Welcome to the forum.

    Gamification! So that's the name for it. Thanks for that; I learned something new.
  • @carteki, I can't speak for Eagan, but in my post at least, I'm certainly not talking about Gamification or Serious Games.

    While they obviously revolve around the concept, Serious Games are definately not the only games that set out to impact on players. As @Eagan touches on, there are heaps of (for lack of a better word) "Not Serious Games" that can can have great impact. I can personally say that the games I make with my friends couldn't be further from Serious Games, but every one of them has been made to have some kind of impact on whoever plays them.

    Of course there are games that are about nothing more than having fun with them, but I think it's pretty false to say that Serious Games or work of Gamification are the only games that touch people.
    Thanked by 1Eagan
  • I think that all games have an impact on their players in some way. Some impacts are more unwanted than others. The player of your game gets angry because of something in your game like a bad mechanic or a glitch. Some games impact player by forcing them to feel what the character feels. Games like "Paper, please" do this. This can also be seen near the ending of "The last of Us" (won't elaborate lest I spoil)
    Then there are games that drive the player to think about its message. "The static speaks my name" is an example of this.

    But whether a game intends to impact or not, it still does. Some are unwanted, some are wanted. But all are impacts. That's why I think that with every game we make we have to ask ourselves what our games are saying about the world we live in. We have to think about what our games are making the player feel. Like I said, games have power and this power must be handled with great care if we are to make truly memorable experiences that leave the player better and not worse.
    Thanked by 2BenJets Elyaradine
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