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Life and Computer Games October 7, 2008

Posted by Wilz in Gaming, Society.

This video, and the video the speaker shows about halfway through the talk, perhaps expresses best my own thoughts about computer gaming right now. The strongest comment from his student that jumped out at me was his comparison between real life and game violence.

As creativity, curiosity and joy in learning is ‘school-ed’ and ‘examination-ed’ out of our children and youth, and as their interest and sense of relevance for life, society and the environment is pushed further and further away through the ridiculous levels of book and classroom schooling they are forced through even at tertiary level, what surprise is there that the virtual world becomes the most comforting getaway.

Perhaps it is only fortunate that geeks are inherently chaotic good in alignment. For so far, most games I know of lean towards the same.



1. alex - October 12, 2008

With games like 2nd life that gave ppl an option to literally live in the virtual world, game addiction is a significant threat. With the reality governed by laws and morality, the virtual world is has none of those. It`s idealistic to hope that game will take on the role of shaping a positive mind.

2. Wilz - October 12, 2008

Make sweeping statements much? Lol. I don’t even know where to begin to respond to that.

3. alex - October 13, 2008

then don`t. Accept that it`s the absolute truth. Mwahahahahaha!

Not a new opinion. Rather generalization of what people felt about game. The effect of games on human behavior is still in a very gray area. If it`s true that people’s action is reflected by the games they play, I believe there are more negative outcomes then positive, considering that among the popular games we have GTAs and the likes of it.

Statistic that points only a small fraction of games are violent should not be used as a license to say that it`s completely ok. Even if it`s 3% (I can`r remember the exact percentage) it is a significant enough number to be afraid of. Imagine 3 out of 100 students exhibits Columbine shooter`s behavior.

Games is still best to be left in pure entertainment sphere :)

4. Wilz - October 13, 2008


1. Generalizations suck – at one time in the past, most people in the world felt that the Sun was God. What people feel is a terrible indicator of truth.

2. “If it`s true that people’s action is reflected by the games they play, I believe there are more negative outcomes then positive, considering that among the popular games we have GTAs and the likes of it.” <— there’s an overwhelming body of research that demonstrates that real life activity has very little correlation with entertainment/virtual activities. Your belief remains just that. A belief.

3. He did not say that games are okay based on the “small fraction are violent” statistic. He said that games are portrayed as violent, which is not representative of the industry. Don’t misrepresent other people’s intentions in presenting information, especially not to yourself. It’s one of your trademark habits.

4. “Games is still best to be left in pure entertainment sphere :)”

Even if that is everyone’s intention, it will never be true. Games have already overtaken movies & music as the largest entertainment industry on earth (in terms of revenue). Games started out being made by geeks for geeks, and was based on mainly gaming mechanics and its representation through graphics – like Pong and Pacman. It has become much, MUCH more than that.

Like any form of entertainment, it becomes big because it addresses human issues. Great paintings, movies even music are loved because it speaks to and affects human thoughts and emotions. And games have even more power over these things because it involves one as a participant, rather than only show something to one as a spectator.

It is VERY important that gamers and game makers are interested to push their sphere of influence towards positive ends than negative ones, than to ignore the whole thing and “leave it as pure entertainment.”

5. William - October 13, 2008

There’s no such thing as pure entertainment. You can’t draw a line and say “alright this is for funz only” and expect the audience to compartmentalize that specific experience in some depths of their minds.

Every time there is information transfer in any medium you get an altered state of mind, and how you process that information greatly depends on your past transactions. For example, how do you deal with a rant on the internets which you don’t agree with:

a) Do you collect your thoughts and put forth a counter-argument?

b) Do you start writing a response immediately and perceptively go off-tangent?

c) Do you arbitrarily create nonsensical bullet points just for the heck of it, or to portray reasonable language and typing aptitude?

d) Do you recycle an obsolete internet meme and hope that you “bring sexy back”? And at the same time experience an epiphany that perhaps even reiterating overlord welcoming messages is a meta-game in and on itself?

If you are still reading, the electronic interactive medium is no different from past technological breakthroughs which allowed us to propagate information more freely. I doubt you would confine radio or television to “purely entertainment” just because they contain (Protip: the horror genre) violent material now, due to the advantage of hindsight.

Yes games are different because they require participation, and that confers personal experiences with the medium. But that is a good thing, as it seeks active feedback as opposed to the idiot box.

Playing the columbine card here is not only old, but also erroneous because if some kid decides to go on a shooting spree just because he played counterstrike, it’s a tangible sign of bad parenting and societal values. It is also a dire sign of stress or emotional starvation. I am pretty sure we do not blame movies and crime dramas for creating murderers and serial killers. Anymore, at least.

Heralding Second Life as the reason why games are a bad influence is akin to saying every city on the planet is like the shadiest parts of Las Vegas and everybody is on a hedonistic bent to devalue everything we hold dear.

So if gaming is here to stay, why not embrace it, understand how it could positively affect us and our children and gently push towards that direction. After all, i’m pretty sure nasty bad guys are already doing it to spread violence and STDs. Like you know, the internets.

6. alex - October 13, 2008

Whoa. *drowns in language superiority

No. I did not meant to misrepresent him (even though now I looked back it seemed I did). I`m trying to explain why despite only a few games have violent content, ppl still link games and violence together. Primarily because games like GTA have significant amount of players and rather popular.

I`m not trying to scope this entire issue down to just a handful of games. i.e 2nd life, GTA even WOW. That`s just taking it to the extreme. But this are games that matters enough to have people research on them and hence its reasonable for me to quote them.

And to further extend to a case if (note IF) there`s indeed influence of violence being pass on, having even that small fraction of games of this genre will cause the negative benefits outweighs the positives ones. I could be wrong. Clearing up the misrepresentation and perhaps responding to that idea helps. Character assassination doesn`t. It only makes further discussion a horrible pain in the ass.

Societal perception is not necessary an indicator of truth. But if the guy up that can make the effort to clear things up, don`t you think it`s better than just brushing it away. :)

I like William`s take on this one. But, I`m more confused now than I started. The first thing question is to what extend games have an effect to real life behavior. Wilz said that there`s plenty of research that points real life activity has very little correlation with entertainment/virtual activities. Yet at the same time, both conceded that it`s impossible not to be influenced at all .

I`m not sure how one can learn to absorb only the positive influence from the game but at the same time reject the negatives ones. (We`re not even talking about addiction here.) Also, my concern is, will future violent game paves way for the more educational ones.

7. Tsunemori - October 13, 2008

Games, just like any other hobbies and activities, have different effects on different people.

There are people who enjoy just watching soccer, and also those that love playing it. Some only do it for fun, and some get to hyped up that they would resort to violence when provoked. Same with games; some play it casually, some obsessively. And as the saying goes, too much of something can’t be good for you.

It’s a common story to hear about someone who played an MMO for 3+ days straight, and getting terminally ill or even died from neglecting their health. I’ve read stories about people getting stabbed over in-game items, and also of couples who end up meeting and marrying each other. As lame as it sounds, games can often be yet another social aspect to many, and for some, a major one. If stamp collectors can get together to talk about stamps, then gamers should be able to socialise with each other because they have something in common.

So yes, games do have influence, because it is yet another form of media and entertainment. As William said, games can be even more engrossing and immersive than books and TV because it involves the player to interact with the “world” of the game, and often the NPCs with built-in AI that can respond to your actions.

And you see, if comics can make you laugh, and movies can make you cry, and books can change your life, so can games make a major impact on someone.

Point is, the problem lies on each individual, not the actual game itself. Playing FF7 might have had an impact on me, but some people might find the game/story stupid and boring. Likewise, some might love playing Golf with all their heart, but to me it’s one of the most boring sports ever invented. Replace FF7 and Golf with any other hobbies/activities, and you get the idea.

I just know what I enjoy, that’s all. I just hope I’d never prioritise gaming above the more important things and responsibilities in my life.

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