The following report will outline three concerns and three benefits that wider society feels gaming is having people.
Positive impacts of games on society
Technological advancement & Revenue in I.T companies
There is no denying that computer gaming has come a long way since the early eighties. Gaming has had a large impact both on the culture of societies and technology. One example of a technological advance directly related to gaming would be the continuous development of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). This is the processing unit that is dedicated to processing game data. As games continue to get better both graphically and in other areas, the power and number crunching requirements keep going up. It’s this that has helped in keeping tech companies producing more efficient, fast computer components. New games help to set new standards by which companies can compete with one another to produce the best hardware that consumers will want to purchase. In fact if gaming was not around it is possible to assume that we would be many years behind in advanced processing ability in hardware because this advancement only comes with the need to run the software and it is games that are the most resource intensive applications by a large margin. As the software of games improves they will require more resources from the computer’s hardware to run them at a higher/smoother frame rate whilst keeping them looking good and allowing many interactions to happen at the same time on the screen.
Gaming has creating an entire sector in the I.T industry dedicated to the production of dedicated hardware and software and allows greater competition between companies to produce the best hardware.
Simulation games & hand-eye co-ordination
Some games do have the ability to improve some aspects of a person’s physical being. For example the Wii gaming platform may help some people with its Wii Sports application, where you have to practice your hand-eye co-ordination to bowl in a bowling game. It is this same hand-eye co-ordination that is required whilst bowling in real life. There are other simulation games that people use to improve their ability to fly planes and drives vehicles. In fact some applications are designed specifically for their ability to help people practice things virtually and see improvements in the real world. Commercial aeroplane pilots will spend many hours in a virtually simulator practicing how to fly a plane before they ever get in a real plane, this is because a simulated version of the flight is very safe, no one will be at danger if the trainee pilot makes any mistakes. It is also a cost effective way of training people in early stages, although granted it isn’t a complete replacement from learning in real life it is a big advantage.
There are also some very fast pace “twitch” first person shooter games that can improve a person’s responsiveness. For example after playing a game called Quakelive I have noticed I am a lot more aware when driving my car and my reactions feel a lot quicker. This is because of the intense concentration and reaction times that were required in the game to beat good opponents tend to stay with me for a while after I’ve finished playing. Similar games could be produced to improve a doctor’s awareness and co-ordination before he/she performs surgery on a patient.
Strategy games help decision making
Strategy games are designed so that the player doesn’t just take control of a character and race through the game doing things instinctively (which is a lot of fun) but allows the player to take the time to think of a strategy to beat the game, plan moves in advance to ensure the best scenario plays out for future preservation. For example War games like Command & Conquer require the player to command potentially huge armies. The player must think of what units to produce, where to build basis, how much food is required for his/her troops, how much electricity is required to keep the power stations running, plan reconnaissance and attack strategies to defeat opponents and how to re-act when something doesn’t go according to plan, for example when his/her base is attacked without warning. It this kind of thinking that can be very useful in the real world when it comes to management in companies. Games like this will help the player work out what kind of tactics generally work and what doesn’t, what order to do things in and the best way to re-act when things don’t go right for them. It’s better to make these kinds of mistakes in the game, learn from them, and not repeat them in a similar real life scenario.
Negative impacts of games on society
With the advances of gaming graphics, storytelling and interaction within games, they have become far more engaging. To the point where it isn’t uncommon to find that you could easily play a game for over 3 hours non-stop without noticing the time going by. People are feeling content with the interactions that they are having with the characters in a game and the achievements they are pursuing in the game that they prefer these goals and interactions (which are generally a lot easier) than real life ones. It’s because of this that people will prefer to stay at home rather than go out and meet with their friends or spend time with their family. Effectively making themselves social reclusive. Not because they have psychological issues keeping them from being able to socially interact with people in the real world, but that they simply choose to have the make believe interactions in the game.
With the advancements in data transmission technologies in the past decade this has led to the ability for games developers to blur the previously clear line between clear social isolation and being able to play a game in apparent isolation but instead of the interaction being with Non-player characters in a linear style role-playing game, players are now able to not only play with their real life friends, they can meet thousands of new real life people through the game, each person being represented by a character on the screen. Because of the invention of super-fast fiber broadband real life people can seamlessly voice chat and type to communicate whilst sharing in the adventure posed to them in the game world.
This is perhaps one of the subjects that is most debated. Does playing video games make people violent in real life?
One study performed by scientists from Indiana University tested a group of 22 men. Half of the men were told not to play violent video games for 2 weeks whilst the other half were told to play at least 10 hours of violent video games per week. After the 2 weeks the scientist performed tests on the brains of the men and found that the men that played the video games did receive alterations to their brains but when they stopped playing the violent games the brain went back to its normal state. (DARRALL, 2011)
Although this study and others like it do appear to prove that playing games will cause alterations to your brain activity – they don’t necessary link that alteration to being the cause of anti-social behaviour. In fact doing any kind of different activity is going alter the brain activity in different ways.
Violent video games have been used on many occasions to be a major benefactor if not the main cause of some very well-known acts of criminal violence. Perhaps the most famous case being that of the columbine shootings, where two teenagers were thought to have played a lot of violent video games before going into their school and shooting dead 15 people.
I don’t believe that video games can make someone kill another person. I don’ believe that playing violent video games is any different from watching a violent film or watching a boxing fight. I believe it will always be down to the individual as to whether something will affect their decision to perform an act of violence. I don’t believe violent video games will turn a well-mannered, even tempered person into an aggressive, violent one.
It is true that the majority of people play video games for pleasure. Games are designed to give us enough of a challenge to keep us engaged, they tell us stories, take us to places we’ve never been to and allow us to do this whilst just sitting on our couch. Games are being developed so well now that they are keeping us engaged for longer and longer periods of time whilst we try to achieve the next little step towards getting a good item or piece of armour. We become addicted to the pursuit of fictitious items and characters and goals and will in many cases spend real money to help us achieve these goals or purchase in game items. Certain types of games do become addictive. So much so that we would rather take the day of sick from work to play the latest Call of Duty game. We won’t eat properly for 2 days straight and won’t interact with our family, instead preferring the in game interactions. It is true that you can have too much of a good thing. Too much of that good thing could take its toll on a person financially, socially and in their health and well-being.