This is a post I have been wanting to write while I was still completing my first year of university. I know this must seem like a strange pattern of subjects to write about, but as a games design student, I attended lectures on game design and the history of video games and can expect to attend more in the next two years, and I felt a strange insight about video games from these lectures in relation to human nature, Luciferianism, and my own desires and beliefs.
To get started on this post, let me tell you about some important reasons why people play video games. Here are the reasons as I have learned:
- The desire for challenge: A common motivation for playing single-player games, but is not limited to solitary gameplay. Video games have a way of forcing players to think actively and try a number of solutions in order to overcome problems and beat the game. Players can also go through learning experiences and benefit from them, even if only within the context of a game. People enjoy the learning process in games so long as it’s fun and helps them attain some kind of mastery. Often times, people define themselves by the challenges they face and overcome, and in a way video games fulfill the desire of humans to test themselves, face adversity, emerge as victors, and attain mastery.
- The social experience: This is especially true with the rise of both casual gaming and online play, but even back in the days when playing video games wasn’t usually considered a valid social activity, people could still come and visit friends to play video games with each other, often in competition with each other. Multiplayer gaming has always been endearing ever since its early days, and the chief reason is the opportunity to interact with and compete with other people. It’s important to remember that human players are less predictable than artificial intelligence, so human players provide a different kind of challenge than playing against the game alone.
- The solitary experience: While some players like the experience of playing video games with other people, other people prefer to play by themselves. They may be seeking a dynamic experience that they can engage, and in this regard video games are unique in the ability to provide a form of interaction with the medium itself that simply can’t be obtained from reading books or watching movies.
- The emotional experience: This is something that people who play video games sometimes want out of games for the same reasons as the solitary experience, and something that video games have become much more capable of in different ways, and the emotions evoked from playing video games can be just as strong as from other media, if not more so. This is because video games are simply more immersive and more personally involving than other media. Unlike other forms of artistic media, you as the player are centrally involved in the experience that you have chosen to invest in.
- The desire for bragging rights: Competition is an important part of why we play games, and not just video games either. The desire to win respect or brag about your achievements is also a part of playing video games, just as it is with sports. In the days of arcade gaming, kids could work towards getting the highest score possible to show to others and earn respect and the right to brag about it, and when fighting games got into the arcades, kids would learn to execute special moves within the games that required the input of complex sequences of button commands, and when they learned to do so they could show it off to their peers. Showing off has always been a part of playing video games with other people. It provides a sense of accomplishment and pride, which also induces a significant sense of self. Hell, where would hardcore gaming be today without it? In online and mobile gaming, that’s the reason leaderboards exist. In the seventh generation of console gaming, the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Steam let you earn achievements (termed trophies in Sony’s consoles) on your account for completing certain objectives or challenges, and these also serve as a form of bragging or showing off to others. It’s not just about getting certain achievements, but also about how many achievements you get.
- The desire to explore: Exploring new spaces is a key reason for playing video games, particularly single-player games, and is the most important element of adventure games and role-playing games. This gets taken to a whole other level in games like Minecraft, which let you create a world of your own within the game and explore it. However not all games let you explore fantastical settings or simulations of other parts of the world. In general, games as a medium can let you explore any environment that would usually be inaccessible to you, even in a familiar setting, and it’s that desire, to see what the unknown might be like, that games also thrive on.
- The desire to fantasize: Video games offer a form of escapism for most people from the world in which we live, and because they can be more immersive than movies and books and allow the player to get involved in the world they present, they have the power to really bring the player into a fictional world and allow them to fulfill fantasies within that world that they might not be able to in real life. Games allow people to engage in various forms of activity that the bounds of their social environment would normally never allow within a safe environment and without any negative consequences for the player. Some games put the player in a historical setting (or at least loosely historical) and allow the player to make choices that differ from the actual historical sequence of events, which would also alter our reality if they actually occurred, and in general allow the player to see history from a more fantastical viewpoint or potentially through their own eyes. Not all fantasy fulfillment involves violence or exotic settings: in a basic sense it means letting you do things you normally wouldn’t or can’t do even in familiar or real-world settings (like with skateboarding games for example; I guarantee you they can let you do things that no skateboarder can ever do in real life). Another aspect of fantasy fulfillment is content creation, particularly character creation. Games that let you create a character of your own let you truly extend yourself into the game and view the game world from your own eyes.
Good, properly designed video games grant the player the sensations of enjoyment, pleasure, involvement, wonder, challenge, accomplishment, mastery, and victory. From a Luciferian standpoint, these are all not only valid sensations, but they are all cherished, just as much as they might be in Satanism, or for that matter any truly life-affirming philosophy. I feel Luciferianism particularly prizes individual mastery for the self, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with video games inspired mastery in the individual.
Now, I’m not going to settle simply on why people play video games. I’ll tell you what I know about game design itself. Game design itself isn’t for the faint-hearted and the path of game design will challenge the commitment and intellect of potential designers. Making a good game, let alone a great game, means you have to understand why people play video games, why you play video games, and what players expect when they’re playing games, and how to design a functional, structured, and consistent game world, and you’ll also need to learn things outside of video games as well for the sake of design. You also need to overcome adversity not just in the actual workload, but in dealing with other people. For me, group work can be a horrible thing to deal with in game design. In fact, a lot of times I feel it could one day turn into a death sentence for my ambitions in that line of work. But I feel that there’s a balance to be cultivated: you have to realize that one person can’t design a great game alone (at least a game that’s going to sold anyway) and that you will have to work with others in order, and since you’re working with others then you’re working on a project that everyone has to be interested in, but you can’t give in to pure group mentality all the same. I feel a skill worth cultivating might be the ability to work with other people and communicate with them while still not being weighed down by the when others lack the effort and instead focusing on your skills, your talent, and what you feel you can do within the group to make something great. Understand that you have a role in designing the game, and it is your talents that contribute to the whole, without feeling sublimated by the group. I suggest trying to think of it as though you are a member of a band: in a band, you’re in a group of people who have to work together in order to make music, but your talents are important to the band all the same and you’ll be recognized for your talents, and if you were any good then it’d be you those talents people seeking to do your thing will have to learn from. It’s a balance that I guarantee most people might not see themselves achieving, especially if their among the people who just plain hate dealing with people, and I don’t even know if I will prove to be good enough to cultivate that, but if you want to be a game designer you have to learn this. If you’re a Luciferian, then take this as a form mastery, and embrace the glory that comes with that success. I feel a Luciferian can also greatly appreciate the learning process, the balance the individual has to achieve between remaining an individual and dealing with the group (and the challenge of keeping that balance), and the thought that they are creating something that stokes the desires of the individual and inspires their imaginations. Even if not everyone who plays games will think deeply about the motives that drive them to play games in the first place, we may inspire others to become game designers and lead them to discover this themselves, or better yet we may teach them ourselves.
I’d also like to go an record stating that the true talent of game designers is exercising the powers of order and intellect to create a structural game world governed by rules of play and bringing that world to life with the chaos of creativity and imagination. It should be obvious what we try to bring together by doing so, and I feel that in Luciferianism we strive to do the same thing. And in our future careers, we will enter into a world that reflects the natural world: a world ruled by competition and ambition, where designers must try and come out on get their work seen, bought, and played in order to succeed and make a living. I think survival in that world takes knowledge, talent, creativity, and the same burning desire that motivated the history of the industry as a whole: ambition. Throughout the history of video games, companies have started out with the goal of making money by creating video games, and they have survived by trying to do something of their own, something unique, something different from what everyone else was doing, because they really wanted to make video games and because they knew that doing something different meant potentially gaining a competitive edge over every over company.
The history of video games also has a few lessons to teach in general outside design: it enticed me early in my course because it showed me the exciting power of competition that fueled video games as a medium, with different companies each rising to become a dominant force. It almost felt like reading about historical warfare. But the early days of video games were also full of lawsuits, with different companies suing the other companies in for various reasons (often over copyright infringement, and other because some companies feeling the other companies were unfairly cutting into each others’ profits). I devoted a whole report to the subject of the legal battles that frequently happened between video game companies from the 1970’s right up to the early 1990’s, simply because I was enticed by the themes of competition and conflict that such legal battling between early video game companies represented to me. It’s important to remember, however, that these were tumultuous times for the games industry. Companies we know today, such as Nintendo, Sega, and Activision, were butting heads at each to come out on top and suing each other sometimes for petty reasons, costing all these companies a lot of profit in the process and generally creating a hectic climate for the industry. In fact, all the heated legal rivalry that happened in the early 1980’s was one the important factors that eventually led to the notorious video games crash of 1983 that almost destroyed the young video game market. Thinking back, the moral of that state of affairs is one I’m quite familiar with: that competition is a force that drives us all forward, but if it’s uncontrolled then it can go haywire and lead to disorder and turmoil. In Luciferianism, we see greed, pride, lust, indeed all the natural drives that are feared as sinful as natural motivators of the individual, but we also know that we cannot let them become unbalanced and destructive so we embrace the power of order, reason, and honor within ourselves reign in and bring balance.
I don’t know if I’ll still end up on the path of game design in the future even after having written all this: it is a hard road ahead and I have a whole 3-year course to survive before I can feel I’m good enough. But I do feel like this understanding may turn out to be an excellent solution to the challenge of coping with the course as it gets harder to deal with and complete.