Effects of ‘Gaming’

We’ve been reading the book Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson for Media Theory class. The book discusses how much our culture has changed, and that things such as video games are just another way of learning that is actually making us smarter. The general consensus of our class seemed to be to disagree with the book, claiming that “gaming” is simply gaming and nothing more than an escape that is unproductive.

I think this can be looked at in different ways. Gaming can definitely be taken to the extreme were it’s unhealthy how much the person spends time with video games. Personally, I don’t play video games often but I view it as an escape, just as other people might find in music, television, magazines or a book. Today’s release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 influenced me to write about this topic now. A friend of mine on Twitter, tweeted the following:

Of course, there are the running jokes that guys can get obsessive with video games. And there are definitely a few of my guy friends who I know waited in line at midnight at Walmart last night to buy the game. Yes it’s true that some of the people who bought MW3 today will spend a majority of their time holed up playing the next week or so, but is that the end of the world? The place where I differ from a few of the opinions of my classmates is I don’t see how this is really THAT much of a problem. Sure, it’s fun to joke about the obsessions with these games, but for the most part I don’t see guys that play the games really letting it take over their lives, or thinking it applies to their lives outside the game. I’d say there are games that may not necessarily make them smarter as Johnson says in his book, but I don’t see these games as hurting them either. It’s simply an escape and time spent doing something simple that they enjoy.

On top of video games being an escape, I think there is some truth to what Johnson says in his book. We really can learn some things from gaming, even if it is subconsciously. A point brought up in class about FIFA was a great example of this. Consciously, you’re playing soccer against a friend, but subconsciously you’re also learning the business side of owning a team, including things like finances. So I wouldn’t say playing these video games are necessarily a direct and intentional form of learning, but that’s not to say there isn’t some learning involved!

The competition that stems from sports video games was brought up in class as a negative aspect. This I have a problem with. Maybe it’s my extremely competitive nature, but I don’t see how competition is a bad thing. Everyone could use a little competition now and then to help better themselves, it’s healthy. Of course, it can lead to fighting, etc. but I think that depends on the individual person. Competition is something we will face no matter what in this world, it’s a fact of life. I think sports video games can be seen to the kids as just something fun, but the way it brings out their competitiveness helps them for the future to compete to be the best that they can be.

I think this topic that Johnson discusses in his book is really situational. It completely depends on the person and their situation. Some may be able to learn from gaming. Others can be hurt by gaming, while some simply view it as an escape; nothing more, nothing less.


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