While not my preferred genre of gaming, it cannot be denied that in the early 90’s with the release of games such as DOOM, first-person shooter games rocked to the top of the best-selling game charts and has remained there ever since, selling billions of games worldwide. But what is it that had made this genre so successful? It’s not just the first-person perspective, the three-dimensionality, the violence or the adrenaline of the fight or flight response, but rather how the first-person shooter combines these features that most games today encompass. The first person shooter game distinguishes itself from other genres by presenting a visual environment which generates feeling of nostalgia where reality falls away. This feeling of nostalgia eventually creates an absorbing experience that becomes self-reinforcing, inspiring players to come back to feel it again. If video games are about decision making, then first person shooter games takes this to a whole new level. What might be a very simple decision with time and refection becomes a difficult and stressful choice under pressure, one that stimulates players and ignites an intense emotional response.
Attaining this affect requires a balance of skills and challenges, an environment that creates a personal identity for the player and a strong sense of control. Control, compounded by first-person perspective, is the key to the enduring appeal of the first-person shooter genre. It plays into the idea that our happiness ties directly into how in control we feel. The more control we think we have, the more at ease we feel and vice versa. First-person shooter games give us the ability to control our environment, and our perception of our own effectiveness. Along with a sense of control and nostalgia, technology has allowed games to become more realistic making it easier for the player to lose themselves in the fictional world and make connections to the characters inside it. First person shooter games also have the added bonus of shooting, a compelling deviation from regular life that most people have never experienced. The violence is only one aspect of the appeal of shooting. It’s not that players want to be violent but rather they wish to have a way to release pent-up emotions and give in to base impulses in the form of adrenaline-generating decision-making.