Video games, we have been led to believe, are about wasting time. It is a misunderstanding that players and game makers have railed against for 40 years. While movies and television are endlessly analysed and debated in the mainstream media, games are characterised as troubling, irresponsible or banal, the fatuous byproducts of the digital revolution.
But a growing number of theorists and designers disagree. This is, after all, an entertainment medium that worldwide makes $50bn a year, a medium in which an estimated one third of UK adults indulge. An emerging school of thought, drawing on cognitive science, psychology and sociology, suggests that our growing love of video games may actually have important things to tell us about our intrinsic desires and motivations.