Over the past couple of months video games have again caused some negative attention. Mainly due to the correlation between violent games and real life violence, but I see some good in being emotionally invested in a game. Inspired after reading the books The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy as well as Halo and Philosophy I look into this subject a little deeper.
Video games, unlike other forms of media immerse us in a different way. And this point may sound familiar to you. And it’s true when we see something on screen whether it can be funny, scary or other we sometime feel real emotion. That’s why some people really felt sad at the end of Final Fantasy VII. Or they really feel creped out during the eye poking part in Dead Space 2.
“Philosophy, Zelda, and the AHA! Feeling.” The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy p. XV.
Let’s face it. In order to beat a game we need to learn. Whether that might be a new control configuration, or how to beat that boss in, you guessed it, Zelda by watching Dan’s guide. It’s true, you might not know it but through either watching the video it’s self or by hearing his commentary on it we figure out how to beat that boss.
But what does this have to do with emotion. Face it, when you face a hard boss you get frustrated, but when you yourself run out of ideas on how to beat say Invisible Swordsman form Twilight Princess you go looking for the answer.
The felling of frustration helps you grow as a person. And when you finally conquer that boss you grow and learn within the game, by referring back the example above, you get the Spinner soon after. Getting this tool can be seen as gaining knowledge within the game itself. Because the Spinner can be used to get through rooms in dungeons and find secrets in and out of them. But you also gain some knowledge yourself because when you are faced with a new challenge in the game you have a new option in the form of the tool you can use to beat it, and if all else fails you can look up how to do it.
“Possible Worlds” Halo and Philosophy p. 84
In a game like Halo as most of us might know has checkpoints, so if you die you go back to that point in the game. And in Halo in least the checkpoints aren’t too far apart. And on Legendary difficulty when you have to deal with two hunters and a bunch of other enemies it can some times suck. Because you might get close to finishing off that last hunter and get screwed over by a suicide grunt. (The ones with plasma grenades). It’s easy to get angry.
But why do we get angry? Is it because we have to face those hard enemies again? But lets step back a take a look at something, when we die and have to go back and try again but, “each death represents another possible world” (p. 85) And when I read this I saw the authors point. It might sound weird but the way I see it is each time we die we have a chance to make it right, to change our strategy just enough to beat that one hunter and reach the next checkpoint.
I don’t always see anger as a bad thing, it’s an emotion that can make us think long and hard and in turn help us grow. So next time you play a game and get frustrated think about that.