Empathy and Videogames

I love the opening of chapter two because it describes a scenario familiar to most individuals, “….children clopping around in their parent’s loafers or pumps, imagining what it would be like to see over the kitchen counter.” While this description is pleasurable because of the image it evokes, it is also thought provoking because it is summarized with, “these roles fulfill power fantasies.”
I found this interesting because when we play videogames, we are being compared to these children who are trying to walk around in shoes that are too big for them to fill. The big difference is that children eventually do grow into those shoes; their dreams are fulfilled in that way because they do eventually attain the more powerful role that they tried to fill as a child. In videogames, however, most of us will never fill the shoes we are playing in, so what does that say about us? Are we content just always dreaming and never being able to really achieve that power position in real life?
I am not sure what the definite answer to that question is, but I do think that reality does not offer enough opportunity to grow into powerful positions, so game players might settle into the dreamy fantasies allowed in videogames, creating complacence in everyday life.
Keeping this in mind, do you think that videogames make people content in real life because they can go home and get their power fixes on their videogames, or do you think that people turn to videogames because they cannot fulfill their power fantasies in real life?

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3 thoughts on “Empathy and Videogames”

  1. I think this post is very fitting to an article I just read in a psychology course. It was by Gabriel and Young and entitled “Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis” and the study was to see if people became what they read e.g. a wizard in Harry Potter or a vampire in Twilight. While the study used books I think that video games or any sort of medium could apply, especially video games. The study states that assimilating into what we’re reading/playing fulfills our need to belong. The study also showed that parts of the brain enacted when reading about a specific activity overlap with imagining and actually doing an activity. So I wonder if we’re being too critical of games by stating that they don’t actually achieve what we want in life. If while playing we get the feeling of saving the galaxy or rescuing the princess just as much as we would by actually doing it, could it be argued that we are literally fulfilling our power fantasies?

  2. I think that you raised a very intriguing question about whether people play video games to exert power that they otherwise could not express in real life. Taking into consideration games that involve using guns and violence, I definitely think that people will take their inner anger and frustrations out on a video game. Due to these individuals hopefully having a moral conscience, they should be in the mindset when playing the video game that they know that they cannot commit the crimes that are exemplified in the video games in real life. So going and blowing up a building or shooting the enemy would not be considered a moral thought or action by any means to have in reality, but in the fantasy world that video games provide, bringing down the bad guys could simply be a way to release personal tensions in a safe and moral way based on whatever issues are going on in reality.

    As well, a way to think about this question that you posed would be that people who often do not come across as having power or maybe live life in the shadows of others could use video games as a way to exert their inner power that they typically do not express. So that really shy person who tends to let people walk all over them rather than just standing up for themselves, could potentially display a sense of power through a video game where there is no living person who can put them down. He or she may not feel overly comfortable expressing power or standing up for themselves in day to day life, but through a video game they could let themselves unleash quite a bit because it is a fantastical world with minimal consequences.

  3. I found this to be interesting too. Wouldn’t life seem to be so much easier if we were to walk around in the streets and while we walk, coins that hover in the air would touch our heads and be our money to keep? I truly believe that video games offer a fantasy that real life cannot fulfill. Even though these games sometime provide false hope to us, I believe that these games provide us different strategies to tackle real life situations. We rarely would pass a level on our first attempt on it so we have to keep trying until we succeed. This mind set can be used in real life so that people will not feel discouraged to give up on something that they would like to achieve.

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