I suppose it must be a given that anything created by a culture is demonstrative of that culture’s values and attitudes, but to make a statement that a medium is expressive of a worldview suggests to me that the expression is somewhat specific and significant. What does WOW really say about society? That we like fantasy? That being part of an online community is fun? That we like to talk and escape reality and have attached out emotions to certain characters? That whacking monsters with a club is fun, especially when it lets us whack bigger monsters? Among the profound social messages found within GTA is that we are indeed a people with aggression to vent, and that it is possible to enjoy the fantasy of wrongdoing without becoming criminals. I’m not sure I would really label those as worldviews and values. Games don't tend to have anything to say.
The reason for this is likely the lack of intention in the game developing community. It has only been in the last ten years that game consumers have been adults in large enough numbers for games to be marketed exclusively to adults. It almost never occurs that a game is designed without entertainment being its exclusive purpose. There have been only a few games that have the express purpose of conveying a specific idea to an audience, while being entertaining at the same time. (I can only think of a few examples of this, including Oregon Trail, America's Army and educational computer software. More games may be added to this list soon, however.) What becomes thought provoking is analyzing what we are entertained by. The developers create something that is enjoyable, and it is the sociological puzzle of discovering What is it about this game and these characters that holds our attention and imagination is worthy of debate, not the message of the game itself. There is no message in the game itself. Even the most subtle and sophisticated games are designed to be entertaining alone. What becomes exciting is to see what variations of graphic interaction are indeed enjoyable, and what they tell you about yourself. In fact, video games have more in common with pornography than they do with film or literature. They are designed to tap into our hedonic enjoyment of experience without compromise. This becomes increasingly true as games become more adult. And this is indeed their value. They allow us to express our desires and explore what excites us by giving us control over our entertainment.
What becomes unique in video games that is different from any other medium is the intrinsic interactive nature of them. Where as immersion and experience are facets of most other art media, they are seldom the primary objective of them. A truly wonderful video game need not have any story, any characters, any anything except some sort of kinetic interaction. Of course, this is true about games in general. The most significant difference between Tetris and solitaire is the equipment necessary to play them.
The unique aspect of video games that is unmatched by any other medium is the ability to provide the enjoyment of a game, the enjoyment of interaction, with the enjoyment of narration. Arguably the most awesome video game of all time is Super Mario Brothers. Even when discarding its cultural and historic value, Super Mario Brothers couples interaction and narration that is simple enough to be absorbed quickly, and varies both enough to be surprising and continually engaging. Its incredibly basic platform gaming enables any player to understand its rules immediately, and allows for a large degree of play variation. Whether it’s navigating enemies’s behaviors or numbers, or dealing with a level’s design or movement, the game seldom repeats an obstacle long enough for the solution to become automatic and mindless. Similarly the narration, the environment look and character appearance, is abstract enough to be universally surreal and familiar enough to be immediately endearing. Simple graphic design means that minor color, enemy and architecture motifs add an unexpectedly large emotional element to what is essentially a meaningless kinetic puzzle. While the game is addictive and wonderfully entertaining, it is the emotional attachment to the world that has allowed the franchise to endure.
Such is the truth with all video games. Whether it is the emotional attachment to the gameplay or the game environment, it is emotion and not thought that draws us to gaming. We play so that we can feel, not so that we can think. This is perhaps the most unfortunately assumed aspect of gaming, because for us to think and feel together makes us better people.