Since video and computer games have become mainstream, the way we look at our leisure time has drastically shifted. If we go back a few decades, people would have to sit down and watch television or read a book. These were just passive forms of entertainment in which the director or author led the individual along. Then computer games entered the market, giving us a more in-depth way of spending our free time. Whether on the computer or the console, these games have reshaped how we perceive entertainment in so many different ways.
A More Hands-on Experience
Now that video games have hit the market in a big way, people are more used to an interactive medium through which they can relax and unwind. Instead of just letting the director lead you through his or her latest movie, you can actually take control of the character and decide their fate. This has become even more complex than simply leading a pixelated figure to the final goal. In games these days, there are often multiple endings which are decided by your individual choices as you play. Thus, the increased popularity of the gaming culture has made us spoilt, no longer satisfied by passive entertainment forms. Rather, the interactive nature of a virtual world is infinitely more rewarding.
Drawing You into the World
This interactivity also gives designers the opportunity to create a story that really spans ages. Originally, video games could be played for up to 50 hours to get every single goal. Today though, we have online MMORPGs in which the storyline can be extended indefinitely. As new packs are added, gamers can continue to enjoy the world in which they have invested so much time and effort. This is vastly different to a book, movie or television show in which the story eventually ends. Even if the video game concludes at some point, you can always bet that the designers will come out with a sequel sometime in the future, especially if that game is popular.
Truly Global Entertainment
When watching television or a movie, the audience that you can enjoy these pastimes with is very limited. After all, you can only fit a few people into your living room. Even at the cinema, it is only feasible to enjoy the film with a small group of friends. Video games, on the other hand, can be experienced by playing with thousands of people around the world. The best games design will always include some online content so you can compete against opponents everywhere from America to Korea to Italy. This feature can be found in any genre of game, including:
- Massive RTS games set in the past, present or future
- First-person shooters for fast-paced, intense competition
- Racing games which each person vying for first place
- Arcade style titles that are just a fun way to burn time
- Platform games where you team up with a partner to win
With a little imagination, almost any designer can include some kind of online content in their games. In fact, this is crucial since it is here that the longevity of the game really comes into play. Since we are now used to experiencing our favourite titles with thousands of people worldwide, the comparatively short time of a two hour movie or a twenty hour television series really does not cut it anymore.
Gaming Anywhere at Anytime
Another perspective that has changed is that we do not have to be in our living rooms or at the movie theatre to be entertained. With the boom of the gaming culture, portable games machines have become ever more popular. These devices can be switched on in any location, allowing us to enjoy some amazing titles whenever we desire. Thus, we bring our entertainment with us. In fact, some gaming machines can even allow us to watch movies or listen to music, giving us the perfect audio/visual system. Thanks to the creativeness within the industry, we are now truly spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment free from the boundaries of space and time.
This ingenuity has also led to other hardware developments designed to make the gaming environment even more immersive. Motion sensors allow us to physically move the controller or even our arms and manipulate the virtual environment on-screen. 3D displays create a more realistic visual image, letting us enjoy this media even more. These advances have changed how we entertain ourselves, causing our perceptions to shift with regards to our leisure time. The good news is that these developments will continue forever too, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the gaming industry. Whatever sort of creations they come up with next, the way we view our free time will certainly change for the better.