Why Gamers Can’t Stop Playing First-Person Shooters

Posted on December 4, 2013

In the fall of 1992, a twentysomething college dropout and former juvenile offender named John Carmack was hard at work in Mesquite, Texas, on a new concept for a video game. It would merge the first-person perspective of a game like Myst with the direct combat of the shooter game Wolfenstein 3-D and the multi-player capacity of Spectre, and it would do so in a more realistic three-dimensional environment than any game before it. The following year, Carmack and his five colleagues at id Software released the product of that vision: Doom.

What is it that has made this type of game such a success? It’s not simply the first-person perspective, the three-dimensionality, the violence, or the escape. These are features of many video games today. But the first-person shooter combines them in a distinct way: a virtual environment that maximizes a player’s potential to attain a state that the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”—a condition of absolute presence and happiness.

“Flow,” writes Csikszentmihalyi, “is the kind of feeling after which one nostalgically says: ‘that was fun,’ or ‘that was enjoyable.’ ” Put another way, it’s when the rest of the world simply falls away. According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is mostly likely to occur during play, whether it’s a gambling bout, a chess match, or a hike in the mountains. Attaining it requires a good match between someone’s skills and the challenges that she faces, an environment where personal identity becomes subsumed in the game and the player attains a strong feeling of control. Flow eventually becomes self-reinforcing: the feeling itself inspires you to keep returning to the activity that caused it.

As it turns out, first-person shooters create precisely this type of absorbing experience. “Video games are essentially about decision-making,” Lennart Nacke, the director of the Games and Media Entertainment Research Laboratory at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, told me. “First-person shooters put these tasks on speed. What might be a very simple decision if you have all the time in the world becomes much more attractive and complex when you have to do it split second.” The more realistic the game becomes—technological advances have made the original Doom seem quaint compared with newer war simulators, like the Call of Duty and the Battlefield series—the easier it is to lose your own identity in it.

Click on the link below to read the full article


Category(s):Addictions

Source material from The New Yorker


Mental Health News

  • Inequality as a disorder

    newsthumbEconomic inequality is one of the signs that foreshadows societal disorder. It can also negatively impact people’s lives and is highly associated ...

  • The Truth about Psychopaths

    newsthumbThis article talks about the common misconceptions people have about psychopaths and who they really are, what type of person they are and what drew ...

  • ADHD drugs worsen health

    newsthumbContrary to popular beliefs, studies have proven that drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are ineffective in ...