The fine line between games and reality
Updated: Nov 9, 2021
As a kid, my parents used to call me "An astronaut" since I used to be so caught up in TV shows, that I stopped paying attention to things that happened around me.
If you take a look at a kid watching TV, you'll easily notice that he or she is highly engaged with and often sympathetic to the characters. My nephews often shout to a character to watch out for lurking danger.
One would wonder, how is it possible? Could it be that kids don't differentiate between TV and the real world? Well, in short, they don't. Neither do you. Our brain does not distinguish between what we see on screen and what we see in the real world. To it, it's all the same; a sequence of signals that are being translated into what we think is sound and sight. Once you understand that, you understand why my nephews shout at their favorite cartoon and why adults can watch a Netflix marathon instead of living their lives. What we see on screen, to the brain, is just as real as a walk in the park.
This understanding is what governs the entertainment industry. It aims to keep your brain hooked for a better version of your own world. Computer games, work in the same fashion, but at a deeper level. A good computer/mobile game not only keeps you hooked while you play, it keeps reminding you that you have a challenge to complete that in which time is a factor (working on our FOMO), it shows you how well your friends are progressing (keeping you in constant fear of losing your hard-earned score, and most importantly, rewards you constantly for progressing in the game.
Progression is perhaps the foundation by which humanity lives. We, game designers, know it, and in the next article, you will learn how we use it to trick the human brain.