Video Games and the People Who Play Them Can Change Reality

Games have much more bearing on our reality than we realize

(Nic Laube)

As an interactive medium that engages the player’s sense of individuality, games are uniquely capable of changing the individual and forming their sense of self.

The Impact of Video Games on Identity Construction, a literature review by Charlie Ecenbarger of Ball State University, explores the role of video games in forming one’s identity. In it, Ecenbarger writes that “virtual environments not only provide a space for identity exploration and construction, but a place where players can immerse themselves into a different world.”

Though made, in part, to simulate reality, video games have the ability to provide a virtual shelter for the player. Through immersion and subversion they can enable us to change as people. They require total immersion in order to hold up, so it makes sense that, while immersed, the people playing these games would undergo development.

People shape society and culture, and therefore change reality. So, if video games can change people, that means, by extension, they can change reality.

Psychology aside, gaming has had a particularly remarkable impact on society as of late. For one, it has also led to dramatic changes in internet culture, with online personalities like Pewdiepie and Markiplier rising into prominence through video games. These internet icons, known as “let’s players”, have deeply impacted society through their contributions. They have become idols for the current generation, as television stars were in the past.

Many of these gaming idols choose to do good with their celebrity status, too. Just two months ago, Markiplier raised $500,000 for homeless youths through a 24-hour long charity stream. Though the stream involved no video gameplay, much of Markiplier’s reach came from the gaming community. As a result of initiatives like this, games are acting as a platform through which people can change reality for the better.

On April 15, the historical Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was damaged in a fire. People and organizations from across the world have banded together in an effort to fund the total reconstruction of the monumental cathedral, and amongst them is the gaming company Ubisoft.

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity has been widely regarded for its accurate recreation of the cathedral. In response to its immolation, the company has been giving away free copies of the game as a tribute, and even donated a whopping €500,000 to reconstruction efforts. Gamers across the world have been given a chance to go back and retrospectively experience the historical beauty of Notre Dame through this act of charity.

Games were originally made as crude, fun representations of reality, but they have become so much more than that. Whether the exploits of a hero helped you to become who you are, the actions of let’s players have impacted your life somehow, or the Assassin’s Creed: Unity giveaway inspired you to reflect on a piece of lost history, one thing is clear:

Games have the power to change reality, and so do you.