Gamers know their way around lots of PC, console and online games. They expect there to be traps, dead ends, and prison cells. These dungeons usually are disguised by bait that lures the gamer into its lair. It's not discovered that they've traveled into a trap until they are inside and guarded from escaping. The way to get out of these dungeons is by cheating. Anyone who plays by the rules of the confinement remains imprisoned. The challenge is to find the loopholes in the propaganda, possible escapes and ways to effectively game the system.
A dungeon in a game resembles lots of what happens in the "real world": think classrooms, cubicles, committee meetings, social obligations and traffic jams. The rules being played by are confining, stifling, uncreative and overly conformist. They invite breaking the norms. They provoke non-conformist behavior. They ask for cheating.
Non-gamers may jump the conclusion that gaming breeds anti-social monsters. Jumping to this conclusion over-generalizes one facet of gaming and ignores the rest. Games involve far more than escaping out of dungeons. Most of the levels and challenges offer authentic challenges and multiple ways to win. Games offer a tangible progress, a sense of accomplishment and greater confidence for facing future challenges. Game designers know to not make the gamers feel permanently trapped, defeated or powerless to escape. The designers also go one better than offering cheap trills, contrived victories and shallow gains. The narrative, suspense, and significance of outcomes must run deep enough to gain acceptance of the gamers.
Gamers also form communities of cooperation. They compare experiences on getting out of dungeons and advancing to the next level. They share cheats, clues and strategies. This altruistic behavior does not dilute their competing against the game itself. They are teaming up against a common enemy. Each pulls off a personal victory with a little help from their friends. Competing and cooperating work well together, just like cheating and gaining competencies.
Gamers have the sense to defy senseless requirements, to escape limiting traps, and to creative valuable victories together. When these become social norms among us, the world will become a better place as a result.