I find this particular article very interesting. To many, games are just games. A mere form of entertainment to pass time. Children find them fun while parents think games are bad influence. However beyond everything games are more than just what we see on the surface. Different games have different appeals, each creating their own little world where players get lost in this immersive experience.
Background information from article:
Video games became popular in the early 1980s and it is a way in which children, teenagers, and adults encountered the computer. How we interact with computers influences our view of this world and our perspective on ourselves. Many deem games as a bad influence for children because while and after playing the game they act up and seem addicted to the game. By 1982, people spent more money on video games than on movies and records combined. Sherry writes that video games are windows into a new kind of intimacy with machines that is a factor of the new emerging computer culture.
I agree that video games have a kind of hypnotic fascination, it is a kind of “computer holding power” as the author said. Video games can be attractive for many reasons depending on the nature of the game. But one main idea which ties all video games together is that the video games are interactive computer microworlds. Each world has its own rules governing the game. These rules shape the nature of the game and its appeal to players.
For example, the game “Pac-Man”, which is the first game to be acknowledged as part of the national culture. Such a simple game yet there is so much more to it. Playing the game requires quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination. But what is more important is for players to figure out the rules that govern the way Pac-Man behaves and the pursuing monsters. A game which seems very easy to understand and play, yet mastering it requires a certain level of skills from the player. A good Pac-Man player will know to constantly alternate between offensive(eat energy cookies to eat monsters) and defensive(avoid monsters and eat the dots) to advance in the game. Although too many people Pac-Man might just be a video game, it actually might just be more similar to an intellectual game of chess than we might know. I feel that more than just playing the game, the key to winning and advancing is observing the patterns in the game and finding the set of rules which governs the game.
There are no limits to how a game can appear, the objects(items, characters, setting) can fly, accelerate, turn, change shape and colour, they do/be anything. The only limitation is the designer’s imagination and capabilities(which can always be increased through learning).
Video games are not limited by the rules which govern the real world, such as gravity and reality, hence it allows games to become a more accurate expression of the designer’s intentions and the player’s actions.
One such game which is a good example of how video games are not restricted by the real world is “Pinball”. While the actual game has levers that rust and the machine tilted to a particular slant because of the floor and other varying factors that differs every time we play, video games emit all these varying factors and the surroundings does not affect the game. As said in the article, “It is always the same, reacting almost spontaneously.” Another advantage for games like Pinball is that its video game counterpart records everything. Most importantly, it records the high scores and initials of those who played the game, something which the Pinball machine could not do. In my opinion, this is a huge appealing fact of video games as it allows players to leave their digital footprint behind and gain the admiration and recognition from those who play the same game. Personally, I think that it is a form of motivation to want to be better at the game and it also helps to foster a community with healthy competition among players. And because a video game can be programmed to have a variety of designs, it is possible for the game to respond to the level of the player’s skill – increase in difficulty as one progresses to the next level. On the other hand, a regular pinball machine cannot do this.
Video games provide imaginative worlds into which people enter as participants of the world. Technological advancements have allowed game designers to run wild with their imagination and they can do so much more than before. New graphics allow objects to be more realistic and a game like “poker” could simulate real players with different personalities like that of an actual game instead of just robots.
Another popular kind of video game – one of which I really enjoy are interactive novels. Instead of just watching a story unfold like that in a book or movie, players can now make their own decisions. Choosing the route, meeting different characters and encountering different situations. This kind of interaction creates an immersive experience for the player, giving players the choice of choosing their fate. Games like “Choices” and “Episode” are examples of popular interactive novels where players play as main characters in a story.
One of the most attractive parts of video games today is the fact that games give us a world which we can once only fantasize about.Things like magic and potions, hunting monsters and going on a wild adventure used to be a fantasy, but now through video games people can live their dream. One of my favourite video games which offer this kind of escape from the dull ordinary life that is reality is Maplestory. Not constrained by the rules in the physical world, players can teleport, use magic, tame ancient beasts, encounter weird items that do not exist in real life and go on wild quests. All these are close to impossible in the real world. But because Maplestory offer such an experience, people like me who look towards a life outside of this physical world turn to video games.
However enticing video games are, we have to recognise the danger of video games that is the fact that it is easy for players to get lost in a simulated world, especially one that is so real. To the point where some people cannot separate reality from a simulated world. Games offer the possibility of creating and working within an artificial world, simulating the behaviour of economies, political systems and society. Games like “Second Life” can simulate the reality so well that some people get lost in this make-believe world. In Second life, players can go to school, find a job, settle down and form a family, commit crimes and basically do things like that in real life. The appeal of such games is the touch of realness it has, yet player need to take responsibility for their actions in the real, because as real as the game gets, it is afterall “just a game”.
All in all, I feel that video games are not all that bad. It is not as bad of an influence like what some people say. We can partake in gaming, but we need to know the difference between a game and the real world. Too much of something is never good, there has to come to a point where we know how to moderate the amount of time we spent on games. However, it is good that games offer us a route for escape once in a while and break free from the rules of the real world.