“A game is a pastime with formal and predefined set of rules for the progression of a game session, with built-in and quantitative definitions of success and failure” (Juul, 2000). Games are often a time to enjoy a time away from the work people have, and a way to momentarily escape reality for a while. In the subject of games, they have been evolving rapidly as technology introduces more and more mechanics to play games in new and fascinating ways. Such innovation brought the birth of video games.
William Higinbotham created the first video game ever in 1958. His game, called “Tennis for Two,” was created and played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope. In 1962, Steve Russell invented SpaceWar!. Spacewar! was the first game intended for computer use. Russell used a MIT PDP-1 mainframe computer to design his game (Bellis, 2011).
The most prominent maker of video games would have be Nintendo. They are responsible for the creation of the iconic character of all video games, Mario. Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985 and is one of the finest games in that era that introduced video games to the world in an incredibly influential way.
People credited with making games like these are popularly termed as game developers. These video games often have complex programs to instruct how the game should react and operate. Major components or parts used to craft this intricate medium include music, art, programming, design and many miscellaneous and minute aspects. The industry of video games are built on the hard work of these game developers, resulting in eventually to the its worth of approximately 100 billion dollars (Goldman, 2010). The success of the industry is attributed to wide accessibility and highly entertaining value of the games. Video games continue to bolster and cause the industry to thrive and grow, garnering new investors and inspiring many to make games.
Video games have evolved in many ways. In each generation of video game consoles, the graphics are considerably better than its predecessors. Also, the expanse of genres grows as innovation utilizes different concepts and ideas. The interface between player and game has also been evolving, as it allows users to play these games in new and interesting ways. Such innovations include the analog stick, trigger buttons, touch screen, and motion control. These innovations continue to progress as new technology emerges.
However, many consider this form of entertainment to be extremely negative and have a detrimental impact on health and attitude. This seems evident as violent games emerges, and the potential for strain and injury arises. Regardless of these ideas, however plausible, there are many beneficial attributes to video games.
One such benefit to video games is the development of spatial ability and hand-eye coordination. In one case, video games may have the ability to train the brain to process visual information faster than without (Dingfelder, 2007). Additionally, video games have the potential to “train” the brain sharpening its perception and focus.
“We know that video games can increase perceptual abilities and short-term memory,” [Perez] said. They allow the player to focus longer and expand the player’s field of vision compared to people who don’t play video games, [Perez] added (Freeman, 2010).
A review published in Current Directions in Psychological Science also elaborates on the effect that video games actually can improve cognitive processing and accuracy (O’Callaghan, 2010).
Problem-solving is another critical skill that video games can teach players. In one way that players use problem-solving is in using strategies in decision-based circumstances (Bainbridge, 2011). Additionally, video games can used to reflect on life from a different perspective. Though many believe video games to be a way to “escape” reality, some think otherwise.
Those who continue to dismiss games as merely escapist entertainment will find themselves at a major disadvantage in the years ahead, as more gamers start to harness this power for real good. [McGonigal’s] research over the past decade at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Institute for the Future has shown that games consistently provide us with the four ingredients that make for a happy and meaningful life: satisfying work, real hope for success, strong social connections and the chance to become a part of something bigger than ourselves (McGonigal, 2011).
So, in essence, video games can positively enrich the lives of people to aspire for the better, by living out a perspective displayed through a fictional and interactive medium. Some may even say that video games teach players a variation of the scientific method, by causing the player to experiment and attempt to decipher a challenge (Thompson, 2008). As life inspires art, art may also inspire the lives of the player (Rudon, 2011).
There is also the consideration that video games are beginning to have a role in therapy and as a tool for mental health. Many people in attendance at hospitals as patients are likely to experience pain and depression. As of recently, video games have been gaining popularity as a medical intervention for suffering patients (Vedantam, 2009).
Video games also have the potential as a channel to release stress. Some would have people believe that violent video games have a tendency to cause children to be aggressive after playing them.
Cooper and Mackie (1986) found fifth grade girls to be more aggressive in one of two measures when playing a violent game versus a non-violent game. This data however conflicted with Graybill’s (1987) study of second though sixth graders in which he found no greater aggression when playing a violent versus non-violent game. Once again, due to the conflicting results, no conclusive evidence could be drawn to help support that aggression and videogame play are related (Kooijmans, 2004).
The results contrast each other, even as the conditions are identical. At a point of view, it would seem that the effect can vary from person to person. One explanation that may be of consideration, is that participants choose whether to let the material presented effect their thinking or not depending on attitude, morals and conscience understanding. Regardless, the nature of this medium also allows to expressively exhaust negative emotions through playing a game. Though, there is consideration to the excessive use of violence in games or in using repetitive violent actions, which may teach players improper behavior (Norcia, 2011). In such case, it is important to observe and use moderation in content such as this.
There are some who have noted other various negative effects. Some of which include various disorders, somatic complaints, attention problems, declining school performance, and the risk of aggressive behavior (Top 10, 2009). Though, much of this can be maintained and circumscribed by moderating what games are played and for how long. On the other hand, there are also a variety of good benefits present when playing all sorts of video games. Some of these benefits include, understanding concepts, teamwork, collaboration, passive education, critical analyzing and in some cases, economics, reading skills, social skills, and the concept to meet and exceed challenges placed before them (Schlimme, 2002).
Most games involve a huge number of mental tasks, and playing can boost any one of them. Fast-paced, action-packed video games have been shown, in separate studies, to boost visual acuity, spatial perception, and the ability to pick out objects in a scene. Complex, strategy- based games can improve other cognitive skills, including working memory and reasoning (Anthes, 2009).
Surely, the benefits outweigh the negative possibilities.
“Games are a medium. They’re not inherently good or bad.’’ (Anthes, 2009). This particularly true, for as a medium, they can be molded to be used as tools to either educate and improve a person’s abilities, or to corrupt with violent thoughts and vulgar messages. “The very structure of video games makes them ideal tools for brain training.” (Anthes, 2009). New findings continue to support the potential benefits and also of its negative possibilities. All in all, moderation is the key. If people can realize the great potential of video games, people can use it to improve the community. Regardless of what may be popularly perceived, there is a lot of incredible benefits that video games are able to provide.
Those who understand this power will be the people who invent our future. We can create rewarding, transformative games for ourselves and our families; for our schools, businesses and neighborhoods; for an entire industry or an entirely new movement. We can play any games we want. We can create any future we can imagine. Let the games begin (McGonigal, 2011).
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