Sudbury·VIDEO GAMES MATTER

Why do we play video games?

Sudbury’s Aaron Langille says he believes he grew up in the golden era of video games.
Aaron Langille is a professor of computer science and game design at Laurentian University in Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Sudbury's Aaron Langille says he believes he grew up in the golden era of video games.

"I tended to befriend the kids at school that had consoles," he said.

"These were very rudimentary, Atari, ColecoVision, things like that. I always made sure I was invited to their birthday parties."

Langille says his first console was a Nintendo Entertainment System.

"I remember … video games became fairly important, fairly quickly," he said.

"It was something that I sought out. It was something I enjoyed and I was always the kid that would try and make an excuse at recess to stay in and play the class computer."

That love for video games has been continuing for Langille, as he's now a professor of computer science and game design at Laurentian University.

Langille is certainly not alone in his love for video games.

"It's safe to say that if you're walking on the street and you're in between two people, at least one of them is playing a video game," he said.

Langille says his first console was a Nintendo Entertainment System. (Liam Britten, CBC)

"According to the [Entertainment Software Association of Canada], we've got about 52 per cent of all Canadians have played a game at least regularly enough to meet the survey requirements."

That means 18 million Canadians play video games on a regular basis. Langille said the industry employs 20,000 people across the country.

"We're not strictly in the entertainment end of things anymore. Video games are starting to have a more meaningful impact in people's lives."

"The fun part about my job is I get to play games for homework," he said. "I get to play games and say I'm preparing for class."

Why do people play?

Most people play video games for a simple reason: they're fun. Langville said it also gives people the experience to be in control of a situation.

"We do this in video games through things like boss fights," he said. "We do it through completing a level and you sort of raise your fist in the air, you hoot and holler a little bit and you feel in control of that situation."

He adds people also feel the need to be autonomous.

"Often at our work situation or at school, somebody is telling us what to do," he said.

"In video games, we set those parameters."

And games also provide a social aspect, Langille explained.

"With relatedness, what's happening is we are contributing to a group effort or other people are contributing to our efforts," he said.

CBC Morning North will continue to feature stories about video games as part of the series Video Games Matter.

With files from Markus Schwabe

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