16 May 2012

Why do we Game?

Although this question may not have plagued the world's greatest philosophers it can still provide an insight into human behaviour.   

When I put the question to some Gambit members I got various responses. The most common of which was that it forms a basis for social interaction amongst like-minded people.

Simply put, gaming forms another medium for us to interact with others on a face-to-face level.   

This aspect is relatively straight-forward as it can be applied to a vast range of hobbies and interests; stretching from football to economics to garden gnomes etc. etc.

The second reason for gaming was that it provides mental exercise.

As mentioned in a previous article, gaming can provide an educational experience. It can teach us lessons about winning and losing whilst allowing us to develop analytical skills. This applies to a whole range of games whether it be Chess or 40K.

Gaming also provides experiences with regards to consequences and can help us learn about greater issues. For example, Axis and Allies teaches us about planning ahead through a historical scenario.    

I recently came across an interesting forum post which asked whether gaming is a continuation of the evolutionary process.

This may seem a bit surreal to many readers but, to me at least, it is a valid question.

Young animals 'play' to develop skills that they use in the wild to either hunt or evade. As humans have evolved our role as hunter gatherers has diminished but our scientific and enquiring process has grown. This, in turn, has moved most of us away from physical prowess to adapting to career life.

The human brain is one of the most complex and fascinating entities on the planet. From an early age it is constantly processing information which is then given further 'training' at schools. Establishments which seek to provide us with skills for use in later life.       

The argument isn't that if humans didn't play games we would die out. Rather that gaming can act as a conduit for certain skills to be channelled and developed.  

Take numeracy for example. Most table-top games involve a degree of maths to function. From the buying of units to how much damage a player is going to take, a gamer is actively participating in a skill that will benefit them in life. 

In 2004 USA Today published an article about Magic the Gathering and its impact on children. In the article, most parents agreed that the game had helped to improve their child's mental skills and vocabulary.
They also said that the game helped children to develop money management skills.  
You can read the article here: USA Today MtG  

This does not just apply to MtG and links back to the educational process mentioned earlier. Whether it be the word 'galvanic' on Galvanic Blast or the meaning of the Harelquins employed by the Dark Eldar .

Another reason that was touched upon was escapism but this subject deserves a greater discussion.

Once again I hope that this article has proved informative and got your mental cog(native) in gear.

Please be in-keeping with this article and feel free to share your thoughts about this subject as it is through reasoned discussion that we can learn best.

John of Team Gambit  

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