Self-Knowledge Through…Video Games?!

avgnOne unexpected medium I derive self-knowledge from is video games, and I know what you’re thinking. “Marlon, this is just your way of justifying the countless hours you sink into video games by trying to add some kind of meaningful reason to it.”

Well…you see right through me like grandma’s underpants.

In all seriousness, though, I do operate from the philosophy that playing games reveals a lot about ourselves. At its core, it has a lot to do with respect. Here’s what I take in account when I play a game with anyone or flying solo:

  • Respect for the Rules
  • Motives for Playing
  • Respecting Opponents and Skill Levels
  • Respecting Your Emotions

Respect for the Rules

When you play a game, a basic understanding of the rules and gameplay is important in knowing what you can or cannot do. Some games, most especially ones that aren’t programmed into a video game, allow for more rule breaking. To what degree do you or your opponents abide by the basic guidelines and for what reason will you bend or break the rules? Is it to gain an advantage over each other or is it to have more fun?

Let’s take chess as a simple example. When your opponent is not looking, you can easily pocket some of their pieces one by one, creating the illusion that you’ve taken them already. (Don’t try at this early on in the game, or you’ll be in big trouble!) That would be outright cheating and takes away from the fun of the game.

Or you can break the rules for fun by making up movements different from the original ones. One time, my nephew was over and didn’t want to go home, so we made up all crazy sorts of changes. A Knight can stampede a whole line, and if a pawn reaches the other side, instead of changing into a better piece, they can go back to the start AND regain a better piece at the spot where the pawn landed.

Motives For Playing

“You suck, noob! I PLAY TO WIN!!!” Cries almost every person who plays in online competitive games.

Winning is fun, but if you’re too focussed on winning all the time, there are a variety of different consequences. Losing could hurt your ego tremendously, you might play so aggressively that no one has fun (not even you), or you can just as easily keep on losing and then going for rematch after rematch, trying so hard to get that win.

I had a phase myself where I had to chase down certain players in Ranked Mode when I used to play Soul Calibur IV and V almost every night of my life. I took it personally if I lost, and I’ll be damned to stay up ’til 5am finding that guy who RUNG ME OUT! DUDE THAT IS SO CHEAP!!!

Well, past Marlon, ring outs are part of the game and not against the rules.

Having this mentality sucked the fun out for me, and isn’t that the reason why we play games in the first place? To have fun? Once I started playing for fun, it didn’t matter whether or not I lost. In fact, my skills improved immensely when I started focussing more on having fun, but more on that later.

Your motives for playing a game reveals how much winning and losing really means to you. And in either case, can you accept either outcome with grace and humility? Or do you rub it in, pour some salt into those wounds?

A sore loser is annoying. A sore winner is even worse.

When someone loses and complains about how you’re cheap or the rules are unfair, that is obviously annoying. However, there are also winners who complain about the mistakes they’ve made even though they creamed you in the game. It’s like, “bruh, I’m not even half as good as you. What are you complaining about?”

The proper way to lose is accepting that you’ve made mistakes that cost you the game and that you’d better play better next time. The proper way to win is to say GG (if it really was a good game) and compliment anything good that the loser did in your match.

In the end, that’s all that winning and losing is all about: evidence of your skills or lack thereof. What you choose to do about that and how you feel about it is completely up to you. One of my favourite motives for playing is mastery, which I will cover in my next post!


Stay tuned for:

in Self-Knowledge Through Video Games.


One thought on “Self-Knowledge Through…Video Games?!

  1. Interesting, I agree with you Marlon, video-games can be a source for self-knowledge.

    I have also found video-games stimulating my own growth in self-knowledge through the stories, metaphors and plots they present. Many games are not simply point and shot bad guy, but also deal with deep and profound philosophical topics. Like love, greed, power, economics, bravery, corruption, growth etc etc etc…

    Fiction in general I think can be very conducive to spark growth in self-knowledge.

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