Whether it be Call of Duty, Battlefield, Battlefront, 1942, Metal Slug, Red Alert, Halo, Advance Wars, Metal Gear Solid, Wolfenstein… well, you get the point. There are A LOT of video games based on war and many of them are ultra popular. But why? Why do we like when things go “boom” so much? While there probably isn’t one absolute answer, we’re sure these couple of reasons are what gets people so entrenched in the war category.
#1: It’s Fun to Work as a Team
Sure, a war might not be the friendliest subject matter, but because war is often times found in the “this team vs. that team” mentality, war games are cooperative by design. Take Call of Duty for example. One of the most popular franchises of all time has gotten that way because multiple generations of friends have gotten together for the same cause: to get more points than the opposing team. It might be a simple common goal, but it’s one that people can communicate about (a more personal affair when you can physically hear someone’s voice), develop strategies to overcome and, most importantly, make more friends while they’re accomplishing it. It all comes down to socialization. According to an article by Gamasutra, one of the five categories of appeal in video games is socialization, and because of the way online war games often work, they create one of the most social environments in all of gaming. Even if being social means we have to put up with that guy who won’t stop team killing us.
#:2 We’re Adrenaline Junkies
If we take a step away from war games for one second and just look at how popular games like Tetris, Street Fighter, Burnout, League of Legends or Guitar Hero are, we might notice one common trait: all of them require fast reflexes at high levels of play. War games are some of the fastest out there and require not only a high level of strategy at times but also quick reactions.The player who can find enemies the quickest, reload exactly when they run out of bullets, sprint at the exact right moment and aim in the most precise locations in the shortest amount of time often excel above the rest; and it’s this need to always get faster and more precise that drives us to play more and in turn get better. As it turns out, this need for speed also comes with its fair share of positives according to IFL Science and their article on how playing video games is good for the brain. Enhanced hand-eye coordination, reaction times and spatial awareness are just some of the benefits of playing games. Maybe our brain just craves this training through the extreme speed war games have to offer.
#3: Showing Off Is Life
Who doesn’t like the feeling of besting an opponent? Whether it be through luck, skill or a hefty combination of the two, competition is often the driving force behind war games. An article by developer Plarium tells us that it’s not just about beating people, but also how we were able to do it and who we took down in the process. If you’re not competing against the other team to win the round, you’re competing against your teammates to have the highest kill/death ratio. And now that everything is being streamed, replayed and uploaded to YouTube, the cool things we do can live on forever – and if they’re cool enough we might even get our 15 minutes of internet fame. Bottom line: we want to prove ourselves against other competitors and look good while we’re doing it.
#4: War Makes a Compelling Story
For as brutal and disheartening as war can be, it can also be something that inspires hope. Good vs. evil, the little guy vs. the big guy, the bully vs. the “won’t be bullied anymore” – war tells a story of rising to the occasion when we’re needed most. It’s where heroes are born and villains are all powerful, and often times it’s where the line between those two things gets blurry. Chronicle.com put it bluntly in their piece on the fascination of war when they said: “war is hell—and it’s a helluva story.” If nothing else, war is drama and people want to be part of that without actually having to live it because it’s much easier to stay composed when bullets aren’t actually inches away from hitting you, no matter how crazy your little brother said his last game of team Deathmatch was.
So whether it be that you like to get together with your friends and dominate whoever logs on or you have to always be moving your fingers and challenging your reflexes, we like war because it makes us feel something visceral. Or maybe we really do just like to see things go “boom”.