How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Games as Discovery
Playing games can be done as a means to various forms of discovery, including self-discovery, other-discovery and exploration.
Games can lead to self-discovery as we find out how well we cope with challenge, difficulty, winning and failure within the game. In this way we can find both strengths and also aspects of ourselves that need improvement.
When we are playing with others, we also discover something of their personalities. In the same way as discovery about ourselves, these can be surprising, pleasant or maybe not so enjoyable.
Discovery can also be an integral part of the game, for example when there are lands to explore and treasure to be found.
A chess player discovers that they are good at short, fast games but lack the patience to win at long games of attrition. Their main rival seems good at the long game, which makes them irritated (which itself is another point for self-discovery).
A video game role-player goes on long missions of exploration and discovery in strange new worlds. They enjoy not just the discovery but the exploration and search.
Exploration and discovery are natural human motivations. The alternative of staying at home and not taking risks or finding new things is not good for evolution, which is probably why we feel the excitement of exploration and joy of discovery.
By providing situations where we can discover ourselves, others and things of value, games feed this need.
For discovery to be optimally pleasurable it needs to be spaced out over time and effectively act as a reward for effort. If things are too easy to find, then they are not valued as much. If they are too hard to find, then players may give up in disgust.