Monday, January 21

Video Games are Addictive, TV Builds Character?

Janice Turner over at the UK TimesOnline wrote a fairly interesting article where she gives her opinions about the state of children and their media. She makes some relevant points about television, but it's that last moment when she talks about video games...

I really don't have much to say about the article, she makes some interesting points and talks about what her feelings are on children and technology. but some of it seems a little bit over the top like this little excerpt,

Technology boggles us with its unfathomable black magic: what if Microsoft used its power for evil and patented spyware that could suck our brains out through our noses? But our children with their instinctive understanding of new systems, stroll with happy confidence through the techno garden.
It's easy enough for parents to relate to that wordy statement I suppose, the whole thing seems a bit eccentric to me though.

What really made me want to write about this article was the following paragraph,
I refuse to buy them portable gaming consoles, Xboxes, GameCubes, PS2s. These are Satan's Sudoku, crack cocaine of the brain. Even the crappiest cartoon or lamest soap teaches a child about character, plot, drama, humour, life. Playing video games, children are mentally imprisoned, wired into their evil creators' brains. And they play them - beepety-beep - on journeys, over family meals, any minute in which they find themselves unamused.
I think I would rather have my child play Age of Empires and learn about history while having fun playing a video game, than to let said child watch Spongebob Squarepants for hours on end. I can guarantee that the things learned from AoE will better the child in life much more than anything a talking sponge would. World history, time management, and multi-tasking skills. AoE would even better a child's decision making process, should I build another Barrack and up my military or should I build more houses so my villagers can gather resources to upgrade my city faster?

Age of Empires is only one example of course, ryizzel mentioned to me Metal Gear Solid which I completely agree with. Throughout the whole game you can talk to Natasha who will teach you about the history of nuclear waste and nuclear war.

Heck, I learned my cardinal directions by playing The Legend of Zelda! The secret lies on the easternmost peninsula.

One final thing. Game creators are not evil, and children are not imprisoned in the games at any point. The common goal for a lot of next generation game developers is to break away the linear plot lines and enable the player to truly immerse oneself in the game by going wherever and doing whatever he/she would choose. Of course however, we would never want our children to actually enjoy a video game, they'll grow up to be losers working for successful game companies and making lots of money doing something they enjoy. God forbid.



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