Why Gaming Matters


Humankind is inherently attracted to games. As play is an important aspect of childhood, which adult did not look back yearning for those years? What needs emphasizing is that games, just like humankind, have evolved.

Let’s go back a couple of thousand years. One of the most well-known games in history has been chess, which is still widely enjoyed. It shares some characteristic features with other games of yore. Namely, despite all the fun and complex strategies, it was static.

In static games, figures, characters, and the setting haven’t really changed. Sure, in chess you have a few options on how to move, but a rook will remain a rook.

It is no surprise that the concept of development wasn’t represented in such games. Virtually, it did not exist. Up until the industrial revolution, humankind stagnated. Life expectancy remained at a stable level, economic growth flatlined, and making profit was more or less frowned upon.

This all changed in the late 18th century, which marked the beginning of a progress hitherto unknown. Trains bifurcated the lands, chimneys sprang up, whereas mass production and mechanization made various goods widely available and much cheaper than before.

The morality of profit and ambition changedright there and then. Work and having aspirations to do better became virtues, while investment, expansion, and experimentation ensured growth. Development started to be deeply ingrained in our way of thinking.

This concept caught up with gaming a bit later. Board games, for instance, were rarely more complex than assuming throwing dice and moving the pawn forward (or backward).

Now, in the age of the renaissance of board games, we can play with multiplayer strategy games, developing nations, chosing economic systems, resolving issues through trade and diplomacy, and investing in the future. We may also immerse ourselves in role-playing games, where character development is essential.

Market economies instigated a paradigm shift, which has been well reflected in games. Still, the progress of gaming was further reinforced by a different aspect of the markets, namely, the demand.

Gamification is a well documented psychological trick to make tasks more enjoyable, learning more fun, and to get people to use apps. People yearn for likes on social media, earn points while shopping, and so, they want to achieve a certain positive feedback, and through this achievement it is inevitable that they will return to the given platform for more, to achieve some goal.

Apps and video games are monetizing on this. The latter became so complex that now economists can actually research the economy via games.

Just imagine how much time it took thousands of people to develop a complex game. From the storyline to graphics, to modelling, through physics, and the socio-economic aspect of a virtual world. All this has created jobs for many people, and given delight to many more.

And while people enjoy playing games, they are subconsciously learning about growth, development, and the economy.

Mate Hajba
Free Market Foundation