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Games as Purpose


Disciplines > Game Design > Games as Purpose

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Games and gaming can be more than a pastime, becoming a major purpose in life, providing the player with significant meaning and a reason for existence.

Gamers who get into their games may find the game more real and more meaning than real life. This happens particularly in immersive role-play games, but can also happen in other games such as chess or football where the game and success in it become the driving purpose of the player's life.

When games become a primary purpose, players live to play. It can become almost an addiction and certainly an obsession.

Games can also help give purpose but not be all-enveloping. Many hobbies and pastimes can provide meaning in life without taking over everything.


A person with a menial job and humdrum existence finds little meaning in the outside world, yet every evening, they are Cynddylan the Warrior, leading a troop of expert fighters on dangerous missions.

A person who just enjoys chess joins a local club and plays online too. It is not central to their life but they think of themself as a chess-player, with connotations of intelligence and analytical capability.


We all seek meaning and purpose in life as a deep need to give us a sense of why we are here and that we are more than just a flash in the history of the universe. Some find it in religion, others in service, others in their families and children.

Games can serve this function too and are often designed with deeper meaning in mind. Simulation and role-play games are often in complete worlds that can shut out the real world. Even other games can be so engrossing that they exclude other perceptions and the game becomes the end in itself.

Purpose gives reason not only to live but also to act. When we have purpose, we have direction and motivation to get up in the morning. With purpose we have objectives and goals, we know what success means and we know what we must do every day.

As meaning-making is so significant for us, we easily find purpose in much of what we do, and when much of what we do is find games, then we will find meaning in them. When the game is also designed with this in mind, it becomes even easier for it to become significant for us.

See also

Meaning, Goals

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