Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why we play video games

I love sports. This is not a secret. I love to try and play sports, but - shock of shocks - like 99% of the world, I'll never be good enough of an athlete to play at the top level. Kicking around a soccer ball in the backyard pretending to win the World Cup, or taking a free throw and imagining it's to seal Game 7 of the NBA Finals for my hometown Blazers; these sort of moments are dreams, and will be nothing more.

Or, hell, the dream of being able to play like this:

On my to-buy-and-read list: the biography of Pistol Pete, called "MARAVICH."

I can't do those moves. Certainly not in a game, and I'd probably pull muscles I never knew I had stumbling over myself trying even one of them on a playground.

Video games can help you live the fantasy, live the dream. I'm not going to pretend that spending time learning a sports game is even equatable to the hard work athletes have, but damn if it isn't satisfying to pick up a game, improve, and win virtual championships, titles, score goals, dunk a basketball, throw a long-bomb touchdown pass. It's armchair virtuosity at its finest. Make-believe to the nth degree.

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