Video Games

July 17, 2007

I was just reading an old copy of the New Zealand Listener and was surprised to learn something very insightful. I’m pretty sure it was an accident because not only does the Listener sets the limits in New Zealand for acceptable leftism but the author in question, Russel Brown is a case study in what happens to the integrity of a radical young person as they pursue a career in journalism. His column is almost not worth reading anymore but read it I did.It started off rehashing the old ‘are video games turning our kids into murderous zombies?’ debate with quotes from an Utne Reader article pointing out that the average IQ has continued to rise while an entire generation of gamers has been produced. It also pointed out that the murder rate has declined in the same time. So far, so respectable liberal.

But then, apparently unwittingly, Russell dropped this little bombshell;

Whether you find the content of video games inoffensive or grotesque… their structure teaches players that the best course of action is always to accept the system and work to succeed within it

I’m not particularly excited about video games and haven’t paid much attention to either Ran’s or Jason’s thoughts on the matter but I don’t remember seeing anything like this. (It’s times like this that Jason usually pops up waving a link but I’ll press on).

The article then goes into yes-but mode. And rightfully so, as it points out that there is plenty of opportunity for hacking and modifications and that these considerably increase interest in the video games in question.

As usual it’s hard to know whether the sum total of experiences here comes out on the side of training people to stay within the system or training people to hack the system but it could be something worth considering for anyone building a game to teach about the perils of civilisation.


One comment

  1. I must admit that at first I thought that comments on Gaming were fairly pointless. Then I read Ran’s game theory post and it altered the way I view a few things. It also meant I don’t dismiss things as offhand as much now.

    Posted by: Kemo | 07/21/2007

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