Although we gamers are labelled as lazy and “without a life” persons, it is a truth that there are many positive aspects of gaming. We will briefly see the pros and cons of the gaming life now a days, going from the origin of games to the future of games and gamers.
-A short story of electronic games-
It’s known, that the electronic gaming era started in the 80’s, with awesome classics that were so pixelated that one could barely see what’s what.
Games such as Pac-man and Mario brothers in the 90’s marked generations.
In reality video-games exist since the 1950’s, but back then, they were confined in laboratory facilities for research and development proposes, gaining popularity only in the late 70’s with it’s glory years in the 1980’s, with the first arcade games.
With the current generation of games, there are already 8 generations since the 1980’s.
The first generation video-games started with the holly classic, Pong, created by Allan Alcorn from Atari as a training simulation, that turned out to be the first internationally successful game and the base of all consequent games in that era.
Other titles such as ‘Gun fight’ and the unforgettable classic ‘Space invaders’ were also created in that time by a Japanese game developer named Tomohiro Nishikado, under the patent of the Japanese company Taito.
Many other titles came after this three major classics, such as Donkey King, Galaxian and Mario Brothers in the 90’s, games that marked the childhood of many of us and the life of many of our fathers that are still able to enchant the mind of kids now a days and create a whole new generation of gamers.
-Purpose of games-
Games were made not just to make people spend money and time, but also as a way to test reflexes, cognitive and motorial skills.
Titles such as Call of Duty, DOTA 2, League Of Legends, Battlefield, FIFA, Tomb Rider Lara Croft, Metal Gear Solid, and Need For Speed, say it all.
Games are an indirect training method to life situations made in a non-dangerous way of learning, were the user can experience the many possibilities in the game without hurting himself.
Yes, learning is good and putting it in to practice is even better right? Not in this case. Many games are not advisable to practice although they teach you ‘useful’ things. If your question is ‘why?’, just think about titles such as Burnout and Mortal Kombat.
-Games vs reality-
Let me explain the number one reason why games are awesome.
Games are simulated realities. In them, we can do and create what we cannot in real life, or can, but it will turn out to be illegally and most probably get us killed.
There are games that actually simulated things, such as the epic title ‘The Sims’ that help us project a life plan, and enjoy it, or just survive in an jungle full of monkeys that will steal our food.
Simulators are frequently used to train real life professionals in their careers, such as aircrafts piloting, helicopters and even space shuffles.
Games are excellent tools to test products or projects and study the outcome without risks involved.
We should remember though that games are alternative realities, and they will not affect reality itself. That means that if you get to master Tekken or Ninja 2, it does not mean that you can actually fight.
Games are there to give us a notion of things, sometimes in detail, and that is why they are excellent learning tools, for they combine entertainment with practice in a way that the user has an expanded experience time with low levels of fatigue.
There are already platforms that take ‘alternate reality’ to another level. For anime fans, I will say, ‘Sword Art Online reality’, were you can actually ‘live the game’. But as the anime showed, they can, maybe, present deadly risks if not well developed, or just not well used. The platform is named Rift, developed by Oculus VR released in 2016, used not only for games, but for the diverse entertaining proposes such as movies and conversations.
Games are awesome, but too much of anything can damage you, and at the worst case scenario, kill you. It is not an unknown reality that games have already killed people, or better saying, people killed themselves, or others because of games, or by playing too much and confusing reality, or by playing for a long time and having an epileptic stroke and so on. However too much reality also kills. A balance is needed, but if you are a hardcore gamer, visits to reality are needed from time to time.
Games help us exercise the creative side of the brain and sharpen our senses, and although this is good, too much of it will do damage.
Every human being needs it’s dose of harsh and cruel reality, normal reality, for we were not born in a game station. We are real, we will always be, and as humans, we have the natural need to interact with reality, explore and get knowledge.
Ok, it’s is a hell of fun to explore without leaving your room, but the sad truth is, nothing beats reality, even if it’s inside your head. Nothing beats exploring, touching, smelling and sensing. Seeing and reacting to a programmed environment has it’s limitations and sooner or later you’ll know so well the scenarios that you can actually accurately predict the outcomes, unless it is online, of course.
Every game has a limit, and when we reach it, we get bored.
-Male brain vs Games-
It is an undeniable truth that majority of gamers are male, and actually there is a biological reason why men never win this fight against video-games.
According to a research made by the Stanford School of Medicine, men present a natural inclination to games and related activities. According to the studies taken, men show more activity in the areas of the brain related to the reward system when playing games than women. The experience was taken as it follows:
A group of 22 individuals, equally separated by gender, 11 men and 11 women, was asked to click on 10 moving balls before they hit a wall on the screen. Successful players were rewarded with territory. The participants were not told about the benefits of clicking in the balls.
Although all participants quickly figured out the objective of the game and displayed similar motorial skills, men figured out which balls earned them more territory, which were the ones closest to the wall, and gained significantly more territory than women.
The scientists recorded all brain activities, and it was found that in male participants, a region of the brain called mesocorticolimbic centre, (responsible for the reward system, which regulates the release of dopamine, mostly know as “the love drug”) This area of the brain is also responsible for the important roles of motivation, learning, memory and movement. Other areas showed also great activity, such as the nucleus accumbens (responsible for the reward system by the release of dopamine and serotonin, the last one, responsible for the inhibition responses), the amygdala, (known as the emotional centre) related with reactions such as fear and pleasure and the orbifrontal cortex (related to mood, drive and responsibility traits, defining the persona of a person) that is critically linked with memory, reward and decision making mechanisms, defining the social and emotional behaviour.
In men, the brain activity in these areas increased proportionally to the territory won, which did not happened to the female participants.
-Games and society-
According to a report published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, video games and other media that depict risk taking, increase the likelihood that people will take dangerous risks in their lives.
However, we have to see two aspects in this statement above.
Firstly, yes, this is an unconditional truth and we cannot deny it. Games tend to make people take dangerous risks. But isn’t that what life is all about? Taking risks? Dangerous or not?
Honestly, every action and decision carry their own risks, and every risk carries its amount of danger that even if small can be lethal in a way or another. It’s all about the circumstances were decisions are made, and these change every second.
Games may increase the chances of bad behaviour, or rebellious behaviour, but it is such behaviour that is essential to a heathy society, if used wisely.
Games increase the chances of people beginning to take risks and enjoy live making the best out of it. I am one case of this, and allow me to say that I have played the most brutal and violent games, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Street Fighter, Call of Duty, Splinter Cell, and so many other titles. However I have always dreamed to become a writer and a musician because of The Sims, a game that may not look like, but it has its contents of violence, sexuality and brutality, and here I am, writing this article to you. I am just one of the millions of examples possible in this world, and I must say that the nicest persons that I have known, the most original and brilliant are nothing more and nothing less than hardcore gamers.
“A weapon is not dangerous at all. It is just an object. The real danger lies on the intents of the person using it”.
Education is the real danger.
A child well educated will never present danger to future society, even if she plays the most mind disturbing games.
Games are stress relievers, and there is no such thing as dangerous levels of calmness.
The second part of that truth is that it is also an undeniable fact that if games are taken too seriously, they can become dangerous, specially if those who play present unstable minds due to education, traumas or stress disorders.
There are cases that mark and show the nasty side of compulsive gaming, like the man in Florida that shot his neighbour over a missing PS3, and that of the teen that killed his brother because he passed his high score on Flappy bird.
There are people that are addicted to games as there are people addicted to sex, alcohol, books, coffee, music and so on. Everyone has an addiction and that’s the truth of it. We humans have a dark side and everyone has that button that others should not touch for the sake of their own lives. Everyone judges, and most of us forget that we are not perfect. As always, we should think twice before pointing a finger, because mirrors exist, and karma is a bitch.
I will finish this article, by presenting an opinion about gaming from another source, quoting the words of a man by the name of James ‘The boy Scout’ that commented his opinion on an article about the use of games in education.
– “One of the reasons why I have such confidence in this type of teaching being the future, I that kids may actually WANT to go to school for longer periods of time. I for one would love to see this future so kids, teens, young adults and adults will be more experienced in their jobs. I think kids should start on this process after they finish the sixth grade so they are old enough to be realistic in deciding on what they want to be when they grow up. Starting on the eleventh grade, the students could begin playing games based on their choices. Each student would receive an individual assessment based on how well they play the game, at the end of the test, students can move on and be paired with others that are studying the same topic.”
By Júlio C. Carlos.
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