Monday, 11 July 2011

Josh Roberts Vs Videogaming Stigmas and People in His Office

I’d be horrified if my child spent all his time playing video games
That was the phrase that met me one day at work whilst researching the latest releases. Though initially I didn’t feel this statement to go against any of my own beliefs (As much as I’d like to, I can’t play games every second due to weak human needs; sustenance, basic hygiene etc), I did feel I should ask my co-worker to elaborate further.
“It’s not healthy being inside playing games” they said.

This seems to be a common misconception regarding the video game medium by those who have never played one. Despite the potential benefits to reaction time, hand eye co-ordination and puzzle solving skills; video games appear to the masses as the pastime of darkened room dwelling recluses. Though this can be the case for some (often myself included), most gamers fit this aspect of their lives around a healthy social lifestyle. 
My main concern with my co-workers argument was the hypocrisy of it.

Seriously, would this scene be improved if they were watching Britain's Got Talent?

Most people’s lives include/revolve around some form of entertainment, be it television, film, book etc. For some reason it is only the video game that is attached a stigma.
Why? It was recently researched that we, as a society, spend an average of 12 hours per day staring at a screen. Granted, this could involve a work computer; but even if we subtract the average 7 hour work day from this total, 5 hours of screen time remains. For most individuals this would involve the television. Why is this thought of as a healthier past time than playing a game? Both often require hours of involvement in a seated position.

My co-worker remarked that watching television is a social experience. I found this statement confusing. The vast majority of my video gaming experiences have been “social”. I often play multiplayer and co-op games with friends and of the times when this option is unavailable, I chat to friends through the console as I play. I know people who use there XBoxs like phones, using the free, inbuilt headset communication option to keep in touch over hundreds/thousands of miles. 

Portal 2
It's mentally stimulating and it can also be played co-op. What's the problem with that?

The game is the ultimate social platform. Taking McLuhan’s “Global Village” argument, employing modern technology such as online gaming, you can have meaningful social experiences with like minded individuals, regardless of physical boundaries.
Not to mention the benefits of online gaming’s removal of social, physical or racial boundaries that may impact upon an individual’s everyday life. In online gaming, everyone is the same. Everyone is kin. Brought together by love of the experience.

Parents encourage their children to read; it helps to re-enforce a necessary life skill the child will need to excel in life. But reading itself is a solitary experience. Concentration is required. One cannot engage with the narrative of a novel whilst simultaneously continuing social interaction. Yet the book is seen as a more constructive allocation of time than the game. This could be connected to my previous observation about the importance and reinforcement of reading skills. Though clearly this is a valid point, it insults the gaming medium by claiming they do not offer intellectual stimulation. As a long time player of games I feel I have consistently benefitted from my time, especially in regards to problem solving. Any player of “Portal” or the “Monkey Island” series will be able to tell of the frustration and eventual unequivocal joy of critically engaging their minds to complete a task. A mentality that should be encouraged; not regarded by parents with disgust.

It may be a children's classic, but you can't play international 4-player deathmatches  nosiree

This, as every argument does, revolves around ignorance. People who have never played games will always distrust the medium because their relationship with it originates from what they hear in the news; Video game related attacks/killings, addiction and its “constant attempts” to corrupt the youth. Gaming is an entertainment that should be regarded in the same way as that of television/book/film. It displays all the same ability to inform, educate and entertain as any other of the nation’s favoured past-times.
If nothing else can be gained from this argument, then at least I have proved that I am a nightmare to work with.