Wives and girlfriends used to worry about their men spending late nights at the office or disappearing on suspicious business trips, and your biggest threat was the new attractive secretary. These days, it seems like she’s been replaced with an Xbox or gaming PC as the biggest competition for your man’s attention! So what is the fascination with online gaming, why is it so irresistible, and more to the point – how can you get in on the action?
What is online gaming?
Most of us have fond memories of playing Nintendo, those colourful early PC games, or visiting the arcade at the local shopping mall. Pokémon, Super Mario Brothers, Pacman and Tetris were childhood staples for many – boys and girls alike. In today’s connected world, these games have been taken to a whole new level, where players can participate with other gamers from across the globe. With ever more impressive graphics, a stream of new consoles, gadgets and gaming paraphernalia flooding the market – these games have become big business, and they aren’t just for kids anymore.
Some of the most popular genres include first-person shooters, strategy games and what are called MMORPG – or massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Large online communities develop around the games, and the rise of eSports has even seen the best players rewarded with fame and fortune. That’s right – you can now actually make a living playing video games if you’re good enough. The world’s top players can rake in millions in prize money, and earn the adoration of legions of fans as they do so. There’s even a vibrant betting market around the online tournaments, just as with traditional sports, where enthusiasts can back their favorite team or players. Some providers like this website allow fans to compare casinos which are offering bets for their favorite online game like the ever popular Counter-Strike title.
What’s the big attraction for guys?
There are many things that make online gaming popular, and why people (and men in particular) seem to be so attracted to them is really quite fascinating. At its most basic level, we enjoy games because they reward us with dopamine, the feel-good chemical that our brain releases when we’re making progress towards a goal. The graphics, story line and shared experience of a community all work together to make the game seem more real – and that makes the rewards feel more real too.
Online gaming offers an escape from the daily grind, the chance to be a hero, a way to combat stress, and even the chance to socialize with peers that don’t have any preconceived ideas about you. By taking on the role of an avatar (the character you choose to play as in a game) you activate what are called your mirror neurons. These are the same parts of the brain that allow you to empathize or put yourself in someone else’s shoes. In a video game, you almost literally ‘become someone else’ – and as you make progress through the game, your brain rewards you for solving puzzles and problems, improving your skill set and getting the better of your opponents.
There’s also evidence that participating in online games can be an effective form of stress relief, allowing you to take your frustrations out on virtual opponents, and achieve a sense of accomplishment which might not be as easy to obtain in the real world. It’s not that hard to understand why men find them so engaging – after all, they’re designed to be – but like any activity that distracts you from reality, moderation is key. Problems start arising when the online game starts becoming more important to you than your real-world activities or relationships. The good news is that isn’t as common as you might think – for the vast majority of guys, online gaming is a harmless if somewhat time-consuming hobby. And if you can’t beat them, join them…
Why girls are getting in on the action too:
There’s been a longstanding notion that it’s mostly males who enjoy and take part in online gaming, but it seems that isn’t quite as true as once thought. It’s now believed that female players now make up almost half of the online gamers, and they’re starting to rise up the ranks too. While there’s still a lot of prejudice around female players and their perceived lack of ability, that view is shifting quickly. With the rise of professional female gamers like Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, Katherine “Mystik” Gunn, Ricki Ortiz and Marjorie “Kasumi Chan” Bartell earning the big bucks in major competitions, the playing field has really been levelled.
So the next time you find yourself competing with a video game for your man’s attention, try getting in on the action! You might just find a shared passion, or at the very least, get a better understanding of where he’s coming from.