In the article “Video games, emotion and the sixth senses”, Eugenie Shinkle writes about the emotional and metaphysical effects video games have on us when we play them. A video game is a medium much unlike others. Whereas most content mediums are static (we simply view them and consume content), video games are dynamic and allow us to interact with them. Not only are we consuming content, we’re directly involved with the content. We can make choices and decisions that could also affect what direction the content will take.
The player of the game can make an emotional bond to the storyline and characters from the method of interactive content consumption. Technically, they are not playing a character, they are the character. When the character walks forward it’s the player who made that decision. The character, or avatar, becomes simply an extension of themselves; a virtual representation of their mental state. This is essentially new territory for the human mind to explore, as there really hasn’t been a time in history where we could have a nonphysical representation of ourselves. Using these characters we can explore our own feelings and emotions in a setting and story that may not exist in the physical world, which can slightly alter the neurological connections between different parts of our brains. We can be sitting on a couch, unmoving, yet have the same emotional experience in an adventure game as a human once did when hunting animals for their survival. We can have the same feelings as someone who’s being chased by an axe murder, although we don’t have to leave the comfort of our own homes. In this way, as Skinkle goes on to say, when we play video games we use fundamental parts of our brain in different ways, leading to an even further emotional connection and immersion within the game.
Skinkle also questions whether the classic controller is the best way to play these games. Some would argue that a more interactive controller, such as the Wii controller or Playstation Eye can further immerse people into their games and feel a deeper connection, as they are doing physical actions rather than just pushing buttons. Others argue that it doesn’t really matter at all, because the physical actions don’t necessarily translate to the same actions that would be done in real life. In Wii Sports, the action people use to bowl isn’t the same as the one in a real bowling alley. It’s a sort of simplified version of the real thing, which could lead to the opposite of immersion in the game. Whichever way a game is played doesn’t change the fact that video games have now become a huge part of consumer media and have inspired much innovation in the field of human-computer interactivity.