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Games as Real-izing


Disciplines > Game Design > Games as Real-izing

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Games can seem as being played in a world separate from reality, where imaginary and conceptual events have no bearing on the daily world of a game's players.

Yet games and reality are deeply intertwined. Games often are created as a reflection or metaphor of reality, re-creating tensions that can be tested in a relatively safe environment.

Players also take things from games and use their learning in their non-game lives. Games can hence teach us about ourselves and other people and the general ways of things.

In a reversal, games can also become reality when the player becomes so involved in it that reality fades, albeit usually on a temporary basis.

In either case, games create reality, 'real-izing' it, bringing it into existence.


An amateur football player learns much about teamwork, sharing and playing to strengths. The more they play, the more this becomes 'normal' to them and they become more collaborative in their outer work life.

A role-player becomes so engrossed in their gaming that they play for many hours at a stretch. When working for a living, they yearn to return to the more vivid reality of the game.


As humans, we have a given set of motivations and ways of behaving that permeate everything we do, including games. Games designers should be aware of these and design games accordingly.

It is perhaps a higher art to design games that, rather than whiling away a person's time, help to transform them into a better, more effective person. If life's difficulties can be found in some way in the game, then this can provide a safe environment for players to err and learn with minimum real cost.

Games can also be a place to take life's frustrations and work them out or otherwise expel them relatively harmlessly. Physical games such as football can be a way of providing this therapeutic release.

Games can also be a substitute for what many people would call 'reality'. Yet we cannot escape reality and create it for ourselves wherever we are. When outer reality is painful, the escape that games afford can extend to become a more vibrant and desirable reality, even to the point of displacing the outer world as a place where the person can find a more satisfying purpose.

See also

Meaning, Games as Learning, Games as Therapy, Games as Purpose


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