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Author: Gaming Is Mature And Helps Us "Pursue Our Passions"

Most adult gamers view video games as a mature mass medium, one that can go toe-to-toe with other entertainment venues like movies, music, and books. And in fact, the benefits often go beyond mere entertainment.

However, we usually don't get a lot of support from the academic community, as we can all find countless studies concerning the negative effects of the hobby. It gets a little tiresome after awhile.

And so, in the spirit of feeling better about ourselves, we turn your attention to Ian Bogost, a "leading videogame scholar and award-winning game designer." He says games "are increasingly used for purposes other than entertainment, yet they often get entangled within debates about their benefits or dangers." ...yeah, so we've noticed.

Bogost has penned a book- "How To Do Things With Videogames," in which he cites the limitless possibilities offered by interactive simulated realities. Bogost is also a professor of digital media at Georgia Institute of Technology and a founding partner at Persuasive Games LLC, and his goals include:

  • Documenting important historical and cultural events
  • Educating both children and adults
  • Promoting commercial products
  • And serving as platforms for art, pornography, exercise, relaxation, pranks, and politics.

Interestingly enough, Bogost claims games can actually be motivational and inspirational. He says that a diverse array of titles can help people "pursue a variety of goals and passions." And the more we utilize games "in various aspects of human activity," the less ammunition the naysayers will have.

From our standpoint, we firmly believe that those who say gaming has no benefit haven't played a video game since 1976.

Tags: video games, game culture, game market

8/31/2011 8:14:54 PM Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (14 posts)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:43:48 PM

I definitely agree about the motivational part. I remember playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater and then it always made me want to go out a skate.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:53:04 PM

Thanks for sharing Ben. I just looked for the book on Amazon and bought it for under $13. Looks like a good read.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:43:46 PM

nothing about the platforms for pornography?

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:50:43 PM

I truly get tired of the arguments of the maturity of videogames. Yes, some are immature just like you'd find in other mediums. When you have a medium with increase variety, you'll have access to everything. Videogames and videogaming is art.

Kudos to the author

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Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 12:16:49 AM

FYI, I can see your picture. I know you mentioned in a different article that you were having trouble uploading a picture. The picture I see is yellow and black.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:14:50 PM

I know Singstar and Rock Band inspired me to perform more and actually pick up a real guitar and learn how to play!! And the pro keys mode of RB3 taught me how to play John Lennon's Imagine on a real piano!!!

War FPS' (like Battlefield) can be a great example of leadership and teamwork, and how good strategy can often win wars over brute force alone.

Certain games can teach or inspire many people to try something new in reality, but in the end, it all comes down to the game itself, what it promotes, and what the player is aiming to achieve by playing said game.

Playing drivel like X-Blades doesn't really help anyone or teach anything. Heavy Rain, however, was a great example of showing how all actions have consequences, like in reality. Your choice could effect someone else in some way that you may not know.

Video games are very broad in definition these days. We've now come to a point where we can't just focus on video games in general being good or bad, but we must focus on certain genres or individual titles having positive or negative effects on players of a certain age or frame of mind.

I say to all gamers, choose your games wisely.

I personally lean more to party games like Singstar, Rock band and Buzz since they're great for when friends come over. I love RPG's for the great story and fantastic gameplay mechanics that allow me strategize and plan how I approach certain difficult scenarios.

As I get older, I find this recent trend of games containing emotional and relational conflicts to be of greatest interest to me, and I can only hope that these baby steps into this genre will result in some fantastic mature games several years down the track. Heavy Rain was a great start, Catherine interests me and I am really looking forward to Quantic Dream's next project.

Such a shame that immature teens are the most catered to in this industry. We older gamers like some love too. :)

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:23:58 PM

Gaming can be good for just about everybody and every thing involved when implemented properly. It really is time people (outsiders)stopped focusing on the negative possibilities.

I think interactive digital content is the future of training and education. God knows the old education systems don't work any more.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 8/31/2011 11:26:16 PM

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:33:20 PM

It will eventually become a normal thing. We have to realize that as a form of entertainment videogames are still rather young. I know neither of my parents grew up with videogames and thus are alienated by the entire industry. As we gamers grow older and our children (ha!) are involved with games at an early age things will change as the % of people not playing or knowledgeable of videogames will decrease.

Just look back at certain cultural things that have been frowned upon back in the 1950s and now are common place (wearing baseball hats indoors, profanity, sodomy). You get the point.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 1:51:56 AM

He's got a great point, but gaming is still primarily entrenched in the idea of being a medium purely for entertainment. It could indeed become informational and educational and I like that idea.

And indeed, they can be inspirational. Whether it be the art styles, the stories or the hobby itself, we've seen films and novels based on or inspired by video games, as well as plenty of fan art. It'll be a good future methinks.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 3:45:46 AM

as one very wise man from the simpsons said.
if it feels good, do it!
or as bart said, hell no live fast, die young, and leave a bit fat corpse!

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Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 3:48:24 AM

i agree games can be inspiritional. maybe even educational. it's all about going to new worlds, and immersing yourself in them. there are many immature gamers out there but there are also many mature gamers.

i tell you what i have heard things on xbox live and psn that literally made me have to pick my jaw off the floor. that group of people on fps shooters sure do not come accross as mature.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 4:42:53 AM

I saw the title and thought the piece was going to be on Jane McGonigal and her book Reality is Broken.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 11:47:05 AM

Well, I agree that games can be a powerful medium. RPGs especially have in the past provoked a lot of discussion on occasion. It's funny though, to a great extent you get out of it what you put into it.

A game like Modern Warfare could tell us something about the futility of war. It could, but does it? Uncharted certainly had some points to make in Among Thieves. Sometimes though the points being made are subtle and obscured by other elements of the game, because of course it still has to be a game. Obviously Heavy Rain managed to pack in a heavy story with lots of small elements and side plots that say things about who we are, and illuminate parts of the human psyche that we might not be comfortable with.

A favorite of mine in terms of deeper messages is Xenosaga. Xenosaga is fun in this context because the majority of people look at it and see the pseudo religion, the nods in the direction of various 'christian' elements including gnosticism. There are clearly very heavy messages about human enlightenment, and the larger questions about why we exist, and perhaps whether we eve deserve to exist. But below that heavy, and sometimes ponderous message there are personal messages about redemption, and character.

Perhaps the deepest messages relate to the main character and her personal history, and how that has affected her psyche. Fans of the game could spend days discussing these things and still not come up with every angle and interpretation of the game. Just the one central character - Shion - beings an entire philosophical and psychiatric discussion all of her own. Her story has elements of abject emotional distress, manipulation, abuse, and the complex damage that these things can do. Her character is a near textbook case of dissociative identity disorder, mood disorders and ingrained emotional dependency. She's a complex riddle in a complex story that is made more complex by the writers of the game obscuring the entire thing in a science fiction future world with shadowy groups all apparently converging on the same events.

The thing is, I don't see that kind of multi-layered story telling and message being done in games today. I'm very happy that games like Uncharted and of course Heavy Rain, exist because they bring some of that grown up thinking, complex and deep story and message. But they are the exceptions, not the rule.

The one point about documenting historical and cultural events is a good one. Games are a great way to encapsulate things, but as with everything, it's important that we remember that a game is not a documentary, and despite many historical accuracies in games there is plenty of artistic license. That said, This point reminds me of the feeling I get when watching a decades old VHS recording of a movie or TV show I made in the 80's. You see the commercials, the trailers for the news, even news flashes sometimes, and it's like a visual time capsule of the age. In some ways, I think games can be like that. They can give you that flavor, the pop culture taste of the age, but like those recordings, the actuality of the news and topical events is missing.

For example, watching a topical satirical comedy from that time, I remember the events, so I get all the jokes, but someone who wasn't there, will miss a lot, and in many cases get an incorrect understanding from the comedy, simply because it's referential and fully of parody and sarcasm. In other words, they're like a fun-house mirror that distorts everything, rather than a high grade optical mirror that accurately reflects. I think that is how I see games, they too are the fun-house mirror that can reflect things, but clearly the reflection is bent around the game.

Last edited by TheHighlander on 9/1/2011 11:54:08 AM

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Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 12:49:33 PM

You're right we did already know this and thanks to a book like this hopefully more naysayers will to.

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