Console games can seem like a great way to spend an evening with friends.
Console games like Wii seem to encourage this. They advertise the group aspects with family or friends, showing the fun that a party of people can have with these systems. Clearly with the new style intuitive controllers, groups of people of all ability can join in with the fun.
I have experienced systems like such as Wii with groups of friends in party situations such as new year. There is no doubt, they are great fun. However, I have noticed certain aspects when playing these games:
- Everyone is not included in the action – initially people watching are joining in, laughing and encouraging, but this wears off after a while and onlookers become bored.
- The noise and music make conversation difficult.
- The level of concentration by the participants is high and they become very focused on the game. This excludes them from the group and they can not participate in conversation.
- When the games are finished the atmosphere tends to be tense and hyper rather than relaxed and comfortable.
Before console games what did we do when friends came round?
- Board games were popular
- Conversation and discussions- sometimes heated!
- Playing cards.
- Dinner parties where the food was the evening and the meal spread out over a long time and filled the the time.
The biggest difference between an evening with console games and an evening without is the focus. When people are playing console games they face the screen, when the are not, they face each other. All psychologists know the importance of eye contact as part of the way we communicate, if we are not looking at each other we do not have a proper conversation.
The music and noise of the console games makes talking very difficult. When doing a board game, playing cards or a jigsaw, even with background music, there are no load distracting noises and everyone sits facing each other and conversation flows readily. The game or jigsaw is the central point to bring everyone together however, soon this becomes of secondary importance as the conversations generate the interest. The console game is all consuming and the people playing the game cannot participate in the conversation and the people who are not playing the game are not part of the experience. This creates a separation within the friends.
There is, of course a place for console games. The fun family games and singing games can create a very entertaining evening.
For a more fulfilling evening, I would recommend returning to jigsaw puzzles, board games or playing cards. By the end of the evening you and your friends will have put the world to rights and you will know your friends better than before. The evening will end with happy, tipsy, relaxed guests rather than tense, frenetic guests who have thrashed each other on the TV!
There is a place for both types of evening. There are good reasons why old style games and puzzles were popular and an evening spent in this way can not be replicated with a console game.