There’s a cliche that narrative games are about power fantasies. But maybe the satisfaction comes from having a sense of control that real life doesn’t afford us.
An interesting article on the reasons we play games from the Guardian. Well worth a read!
I’ve always explained to my parents, who absolutely think TV is just fine as it is, that the magic in gaming is the ability to affect things. You watch a movie and sit there for two hours. Your main dude wins or does not, dies or does not, you then sit through a bunch of commercials and after a while something else to which you have no effect comes along and again - you sit there waiting to see what’s going to happen.
Take a good game and, suddenly, a world opens up in which you either are the main guy and you’re trying to save this-or-that or you get to choose what kind of a main guy you wish to be and sometimes, just sometimes, you get to choose not to save this-or-that but do it completely differently.
Obviously, computer games are a bit limited in that regard as they are always scripted above a certain point, so table-top gaming is even better, but there are games in which you feel like you have near-full control or at the very least your choices have direct influence on your game-life and that’s what makes it so great.
That’s also the reason why I don’t like games like MoH (only played the 1st one) or Bioshock Infinite. To me, they feel like a facade of openness layerd above a tunnel. Meaning - there’s no REAL choice, you just run around following a predetermined path.
They still don’t get it.
Although, my mom did enjoy Tetris, which is probably the definition of freedom and a metaphore for life