Gaming, the end of the world, or the way to a better world?

I guess we all play(ed) our share of computergames? I know I did, although I’m sure I started later than many of you (when I was young there weren’t computers, let alone computergames, can you immagine that? :smiley: ). Aren’t they fun? Isn’t it a great way to relax? And since the birth of internet gaming, you don’t even play alone!

But it’s not always fun. Sometimes people (especially young people, but not only) can’t control their playing habits, and get addicted. A survey from the University of Rotterdam found that 12000 Dutch teenagers are addicted to online gaming (1). They play day and night, neglect school, friends, they escape from the real world and prefer the virtual one.

And then, last week I read an interview in the free newspaper ‘Metro’ in Rome (2) with Jane McGonigal (3).
In her book “Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world” she exposes the theory that hapiness can be achieved through the experience of video games. In the interview she says that playing video games provokes positive emotions: optismism, curiousity and the will to achieve ambitious goals. This effect lasts for 24 hours, and therefor can be used in the “real world”. Games can make a better world.
And she’s serious, on her website she even talks about nominating a game designer for a Nobel Peace Price within the year 2023 (4).

Gaming, the end of the world, or the way to a better world? What are your thoughts?

(1), article about Dutch game addicted youth (Dutch language)
(2) Metro Roma, 2011-05-03, Article on page 8 (Italian language)
(3) Wikipedia page about Jane McGonigal
(4) Jane McGonigal’s website

As a gamer, programmer, and wannabe game developer, I’ve seen both the positive and negative aspects of gaming.

I think, overall, gaming has a largely positive experience for many of the reasons you’ve stated. Along with that, if you include simulation, you can add on top of that training for a variety of things from flight simulators for pilots, training for firefighters (YouTube - Firefighter Training Simulation I) and police officers ([url=]YouTube - Driving Simulator for Police, Fire, Ambulance) and more.

I also read an article a while back about how surgeons who played video games were also faster and more accurate surgeons: Studies: Video games can make better students, surgeons - Considering that surgery is also quickly progressing to computer-enhanced, these video game skills will become even handier ([url=]Robots for Real: Surgeons and Robots Scrub Up - IEEE Spectrum).

However, what you said about the negatives are also true. I personally have several friends who were online gaming addicts (though luckily they’re passed that). I ended up creating an account on WoW due to one of them, who I could often only get a hold of by going in and chatting with her. It can be very debilitating and just as real as any other addiction.

I think parents should monitor their children’s video game playing habits and limit them to only an hour or two a day (at most), but otherwise, I think video games are great and will continue to help shape our future.

Children’s minds are very susceptible to computer games and should have their game play time limited before they turn into zombies or couch potatoes.

Most video games are designed to be addictive using various methodologies though many of them have positives if used in moderation. Though like was mentioned some people suffer the tendency to become actually addicted and attached to their game.

That’s slightly worrying Christian that one of the only few ways you could talk to one of your friends, which I assume you knew in the physical world was via having to interface with a game. Even if it was an ‘online friend’ only it’s still worrying.

Absolutely. Although lots of parents use games (like TV) to keep their children quiet, even while traveling (Gameboy and PSP for example). I remember years ago we went to visit Amalfi (Italy), and on the stairs of the church in the main square there was a bunch of children sitting around one of them that had a Gameboy, watching him play. While the parents went around to look at all the beauty of Amalfi.

But Robert, what do you think about the ‘games can make the world a better place’ theory?

To an extent (controlled or limited use) some may consider it can make the world a better place. Conversely some people of weak mind can end-up far too influenced by such media they forget how to interact with people or develop serous social behavioural problems. My connection is a little too slow to deal with the site in question though.

Parents tend to be the main culprit nowadays and even adults seem to get quite addicted. I am sure you have seen children younger than 10 regularly playing with mobile phones for example.

Depending upon the age of the Child they might not have appreciated the architecture of a church or cathedral. Though I know my family would have interacted with me and taken me around the building not just dumped me.

But it makes you wonder sometimes how lazy the parents are? “Just give little Johnny a portable game, dear, and he’ll stop his whining”

When I was four; I was playing Chess and exercising the grey matter and interacting the a real human adult opponent not sitting alone playing electronic games.

Albeit when I was young, electronic games were mainly early coin-ops or very primitive.

Oh, another thing to note: Ratings.

This is something that drives me nuts because parents completely ignore them. I’m a huge supporter of the ESRB ratings (and their international equivalents).

I actually work for a technology summer camp (now as their software developer at their main office, but for the past 3 seasons as an instructor at a location) and I can’t tell you how many campers I had that were under 10 that had played games like Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament 3, Left 4 Dead, etc, most of which are rated M (Mature - 17+).

Those ratings are there for a reason. While I don’t always agree with the exact rating for a particular game, I think in general they do a pretty good job at indicating what they are. Yet parents completely ignore this, either because they don’t care, “they know what’s best for their child and won’t have anyone telling them what to do”, they want to be the “cool” parents, etc.

Parents need to enforce the ratings. Letting a 15-16 year old play an M game. Okay. Letting an 11 or 12 year old play a T (Teen - 13+) game. Okay. Letting a 7 year old play an M game… not freaking way.

While I don’t believe that video games necessarily make kids violent (if it really was the case, we’d have school shootings twice a day), I do believe shooting and gory games can have an effect on especially young and susceptible minds and can play a factor in developing negative traits.

And churches/cathedrals have got what exactly to do with this conversation? Nothing, so let’s keep anything religious out of this.

There are a number of issues here and a lot of study has been done on the effect of games on kids with surprising results. Game playing has benefits, it trains children to handle multiple information inputs and make them better at making fast decisions, they become more decisive, and sharper BUT it has disadvantages too, children who play a lot of games expect instant feedback for eveything they do so they quickly become bored in a traditional classroom.

I’m quite sure the government have no problem with 10 year olds playing Call of Duty, after all, we need the next generation of cannon fodder kids who think war is cool and glorious and can’t imagine a world without it because they’ve been inured to it by games.

Robert was talking about architecture, culture that is. Not religion.

I’m quite sure the government have no problem with 10 year olds playing Call of Duty, after all, we need the next generation of cannon fodder kids who think war is cool and glorious and can’t imagine a world without it because they’ve been inured to it by games.

Let’s keep politics out of this, it has nothing to do with the topic.

Gaming can lead to tragedies if users are over-addictive (the end of the world). On the contrary, there is an example of playing game to lose weight (to a better world). So, good or bad, all depends on how we use it. Here’s the source if you would like to know the details.

Didn’t need to specify churches and cathedrals then did he. My point stands.

You’re quite right, lucky I didn’t bring politics into it. My point that governments (of any political persuasion and therefore this isn’t a political comment) won’t mind young children being trained to be soldiers when they grow up or at the very least being trained to think war is acceptable. If you don’t think that war games are part of that then perhaps you should be questioning it. Call of Duty, toy guns, toy swords, it’s always been about raising the next generation of soldiers.

A valid point about the effect games have on children and nothing at all to do with politics.

Like some others have stated, I worry about generations of humans becoming obese because their preferred (and possibly only) activity is a FPS game. I think game designers are starting to “get it” with the fitness games that make you move, but at age 20 I was doing 100-mile rides on my bicycle, and I doubt that any amount of Wii would mimic that.

There definitely need to be supervision and limits to gaming.

I avoid online gaming exactly because of addiction. It is enough that I spend countless of hours on single-player video games. But they are finite and there’s always the end. In worst case you’d spend some 100 hours (I think the most hours I’ve played a single game was 200) on it, then never pick it up again or pick it up scarcely. With online games, there’s no end, you might as well spend the rest of your life at it. The prospect of that is enough to scare me off.

As far as positive emotions, I can confidently say that I’ve gotten all of the aforementioned (optimism, curiosity and the will to achieve ambitious goals). In fact, some games are responsible of single-handedly fueling me enough to achieve certain goals. Such as GTA has helped me find motivation to finish certain projects. The associations of gameplay with completing tasks still bring back those emotions, that took place years ago. So they can actually far exceed the 24 hour time frame given correct circumstances.

Granted, I can say the same thing about some books, movies, or songs. It is not unique to video games.

As far as the negative effect, other than worse vision and sometimes too much time wasted, I can’t say much more. I don’t have children so I can’t comment much, other than to say that I was playing video games since I was 13 or less, including violent games, and look how I’ve turned out! :shifty:

That’s how I grew up! Though portable games were simple hand-held electronic games. Kids would crowd up and watch others play even if those games were something as cool as Tetris (I still remember the thrill of that one)!

I’d agree that physical activity or rather lack thereof has a lot to do with obesity, but it first goes down to nutrition. If one sits at the computer all day but doesn’t eat much at all (which is easy to do when gaming has all your attention for hours), they’re more likely to be skinny. So gaming isn’t a sufficient condition for obesity (or necessary for that matter). I wouldn’t worry about it becoming the main cause of obesity of generations.

I have to say that I’m addicted to addictions… When I can indulge myself, I’m an addicted reader… yep, addicted because I can ready one book after another. Also, I’m addicted video game player…fortunately for me, I don’t have time to play but I would.

If I had the time, I’d be addicted to TV series: House, Criminal Minds, CSI… Sheer addiction.

So I quite understand why this is a bit worrying.

My nephew is only 7 and he’s obsesed with playstation. He doesn’t play often because he knows that he has to do his homework first, and that he can’t play if someone is watching TV. Still, he always asks.

The reason he brought up cathedrals is because guido mentioned the kids sitting on the steps of a church. Nobody is bringing religion into this argument.

I think php_daemon hit the nail on the head with the risk of online games… they don’t end. When something like a new RPG comes out, I will play it for quite a while each day until I’ve beat it. However, with an online MMO, if I were to apply that same amount of playing… I’d never have a life again. =p

I think online games carry their own risks that are similar to regular games, but have differences that make their impact have a potentially greater negative impact.

Oh, I should also add that I’ve been playing games since I was 4 or 5. =p

I think Video Games are great for children for numerous reasons.

  1. Problem Solving - Video Games often present puzzles that must be figured out. The smarter the kid, the easier these games are. Practice makes perfect.

  2. Responsibility - Parents must hammer down that fact that they are just playing a video game and it is not okay to replicate what you see in video games, movies, or television. It’s not real life.

  3. Time Management - If kids like playing video games, that’s fine, but they still must manage their time properly. Finish homework then you can play video games. 1-2 hours of video games, followed by a mandatory 2 hours of studying and the rest of the night is free. With a mandatory study time limit, the kids do not rush through homework to get back to video games. Rewards for high grades can also be given to allow more gaming time and to encourage proper use of the 2 hour mandatory study session.

I grew up playing video games, and it has provided countless hours of entertainment. I don’t know where my life would be without video games or movies. Of course there are extremist who doesn’t have a life outside of internet or video games. I think the important thing is to balance out. We have to live a healthy life, no matter how much games we play or don’t play. There have been evidence that playing games for young children also improves their problem solving skills and hand eyes coordination. Then again, it’s all about check and balances.

Are games addictive? Yes!
Can the addiction be dangerous? Yes!

However, of all the gamers I have known (and I knew lots) - most of them ended up as “normal” people, started families, etc.

I think in most cases you just grow out of gaming. I am 30 and even though got an Xbox, I rarely play it - the games lost their magic to me. And it happened to many of my hard core gaming friends from the past.

Besides, as an addiction, gaming is the least harmful one. All you can end up with is bad sight.


Agreed, obesity is about eating too much and if anything is to blame for that it’s our new consumer culture where kids are encouraged to consume from the day they’re born. Greed is the reason for obesity, not computer games.

Why is it that people don’t regard playing games online as a perfectly acceptable leisure activity that constitutes you having a life? Why is someone sad because they play online games? Have you ever watched people watching TV, they’ve usually disengaged their brain and might as well be sitting there drooling, I’d rather be playing a game anyday.

Life is what you choose to spend doing and if you enjoy playing games then that’s absolutely fine, I’m not going to accept anyone judging me and finding me lacking because I play online games rather than drool in front of a TV, that’s ridiculous. How much physical exercise I do or don’t get is completely irrelevant.

As far as I’ve read and if my understanding is good nobody said this. What has been said is that onlines games never end, you never finish playing them and they’re highly addictive.

It is an Ok leisure activity as you keep it under control. Regarding having a life, interacting with people is important for the human being. We’re social animals. While I love online interaction in any form (including chatting, 3D worlds, etc) there are lots of information that you’re missing from someone that you can’t see. After all, you only the avatar! It simply doesn’t have the same quality.

Yet, that doesn’t meant that online interaction (online game or not) is bad. It may be if it is your only way of interaction with other people.

You and many other people :slight_smile:

We’re expressing opinions. Where did you get the conclusion that someone was judging you?

I don’t see online interaction all that different from offline interaction. Social interaction is social interaction no matter what form it takes. The only difference is distance, and if your online friends are relatively near you physically, you are likely to meet them in person eventually anyway.

What’s more, some relationships can only exist online. Hence, not only does online socializing doesn’t take away anything, it adds to socializing in general. The question then is do you even need to “keep under control” something that only has a positive impact? :stuck_out_tongue: Not to say there aren’t any hazards, but offline socializing isn’t exempt from it either.