The word video game is often associated with entertainment, leisure and fun, but for many of those who study the field, video games are more than just a hobby.
According to Giuseppe Romano, who presents his theory in a work entitled Mass Effect (Lupetti –e Editori di comunicazione, Italy, 2014, 14€), video games are real worlds with their own particular characteristics, laws and unique capabilities.
There are countless categories of video games, and the author provides examples to distinguish the subdivisions. But at the bottom, they are playful and narrative environments, into which is woven a content, exploration and the construction of a story.
For Romano, video games present a “poetic navigable space”, which coincides with a representation of the gamer’s creative experience.
He explains how video games have all the effects of a game, and retain all the characteristics of a game, but that they also have a particular connection to the narrative world.
Video games inherit something from movies, TV, theatre and literature. They result as innovative, with respect to each of these areas, in aspects that are presented and examined in his text.
In a particular way the author develops the theme of video games as persuasive games, and he focuses on the involvement that characterizes them. He also explains that, as an interactive means of communication, video games can reach a certain level of empathy that is never reached through other traditional means.
Due to the high level of participation, Romano emphasizes that the video game world must take into account the distinction between good and evil. The gamer, who is living firsthand this represented reality, experiences this distinction in a certain sense. It is the gamer who is committed to pursuing an objective, not the character on the screen, even if he does this through a virtual dimension; he uses his intellectual skills to solve puzzles, to escape, to hide, and to retrieve objects. This identification that the player feels with the character is there, whether the end goal of the game is good or bad.
In Mass effect Romano also speaks about the strong impact video games have on a social level. He discusses the changes that are linked to the rise of the digital age and the context of new media that has permitted video games to emerge on the market and to become a significant cultural and economic reality. The author also points out the marketing strategies and advertising messages that are related to the unique product that is the video game.
Romano’s work proves to be, as a whole, interesting, full of insight, and accessible, both to those who are engaged in the field of social communications, as well as to those who are passionate about the subject or scholars who want to know a bit more about the compelling and controversial world of video games.