A new study confirms something I have long suspected: the thing that makes videos games fun and attractive is the sense of achievement, not the violence. In my school and in many others, concerned parents have voiced their fear that their children are spending too much time playing video games, which is allegedly a waste of time and, depending who you ask, possibly dangerous because of the glorification of violence. My own parents used to take issue with my spending so much time on the computer, too, really.
But what is often misunderstood is what actually makes video games so attractive – what, in fact, makes games attractive in the first place. Let me give you a definition: Games are sets of restrictive rules, designed to create an artificial challenge that requires specific application of skill to surmount. This is the same in every context, from video games through board games through roleplaying games through card games and parlor games. It should be no surprise that children like games – children are incredibly eager to challenge themselves. Anyone with marginal involvement in the video game world knows that a game has to be challenging to be considered a good game.
Gamers and game-players are all in it for the challenge. And children, natural born learning machines, are challenge fiends. They love a challenge. So it should come as no surprise that they really like games.