Issues

There has been, as long as they have been in existence, a crusade of sorts against video games. A very specific aspect of this crusade is focused on a very specific type of video game: those that promote and feature a great deal of violence. Now, it goes without saying that these video games are quite popular with the game-purchasing public. It seems that almost every game manufactured, distributed, sold, and played features some variation of the “space marine” focus, where players take control of grizzled strongmen out to eradicate a certain specific type of enemy, usually a grotesque and tyrannical species of extraterrestrial. Now, the popularity of such games goes without saying. Franchises such as Halo, Gears of War, and of course the terrestrial war games in the Call of Duty series, have set records upon release and have come through to great critical acclaim. This trend does not appear to be reversing or changing anytime soon.

However, there has been some debate as to the true impact of these games. Yes, these games feature a great deal of violence and gore, highly stylized and unrepentant. However, is there really a cause for concern here? Do these games and games like these have an impact on players, especially the younger demographics? There are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue, as is expected. However, opinions and feelings are not sufficient: you must back up your points with facts. A recent Supreme Court case regarding video game impact on young players has demonstrated the use of evidence as a powerful argumentative tool in this debate. For more information, please visit Psych Central.


Recent Developments

There are certain industries that live or die by the critical and commercial reaction to their products. Now, you might be thinking that this is true of all industries, whether or not they pander directly to the customer or not. You would be right, that is the case. However, we are talking about specific industries that deliver goods or services directly to the customer, and whose operating habits are dictated by the consuming habits of the general public. The entertainment industry is a prime example of such. Their successes or failures are directly impacted by the shopping habits, popular opinion, and good faith of the consumer base and the general public. Should anything shift, as a result of a news item or a major cultural event, the entertainment industry would need to adjust accordingly in order to stay afloat. However, it seems that some factors regarding entertainment are rather surprising.

Video games, much like music and commercial films, are rated based upon content. Certain age groups are barred from purchasing certain titles without the consent of a parent or guardian. That is the nature of the beast, and has been for roughly 30 years. However, a recent undercover operation by the Federal Trade Commission has yielded some surprising results. When undercover teens attempt to purchase movies and music with Parental Advisory Labels, it was found that only 13% of the teens were able to purchase PAL games, as opposed to 64% buying advisory-labeled music and 34% buying DVDs of a higher rating. For more information, please visit The Hill.


Connectivity

It seems that the true aim of video games in this modern era, the ultimate goal, is to achieve a completely immersive experience. Think of the last game you played. If it was developed and released this past decade, there is a good chance that it can be thought of as a playable cinematic experience. The visuals are all hyper-real, with completely realistic shading, environmental response, and accurate renderings of human (or alien) movement. The world of gaming is slowly becoming an analogue of our world that we have complete control over. Sure, this might not have been entirely what video games set out to be. They might have been thought of, originally, as fun little distractions from everyday life. They certainly still hold that distinction, yes, but the reality is that we are getting more and more advanced with the way video games not only tell as story but allow you to have a say in how it ends.

As it stands, video games can and often do recreate the very basic aspects of everyday life. There are simulators for dancing, eating, clothing, fighting, playing music, and virtually anything that you could ever wish to do in the physical realm. As well, you might expect that video games will soon embrace social media, as consoles such as the Nintendo Wii promote a social gaming experience. You would be right. Facebook and other social networks have a presence in the gaming world, sure. However, a familiar face is likely to change the game for the better. With the release of “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception,” we will see a video game integration with Facebook and YouTube the likes of which have never been seen before. For more information on this move, please visit USA Today.


Something New

The world of technology is a world of constant change. Nothing stands still for very long, and indeed it is a dangerous thing to be in stasis for any appreciable period of time. Things can change quite often and sometimes without a warning of any sort. In this industry, that is to be expected. The way technology changes, as well as the frequency with which it changes, dictates the way we as consumers and users of this technology react to it. As well, it very much dictates what we buy, as well as our overall shopping habits when it comes to technology. What is in style and top-of-the-line one day can very easily become obsolete within the span of a few weeks. That is just the way things seem to work out these days. The best we can do is hold on and hope that we do not miss the cool new toys coming our way.

Video games, as part of this crazy world of technology, are as well subject to its rules and conventions just as any other gizmo or gadget. Nintendo released the Wii video game console in late 2006 to a great deal of fanfare. The wireless controllers and motion-capture technology were a first for home consoles, and there was a fantastic critical and commercial response. Now, it seems that Nintendo sees this a perfect time to change the game up a little bit. There are rumors floating about that say that this June’s E3 convention will see an announcement from Nintendo of a successor to the very popular console. Further rumors state that this new console will feature controllers with built-in high-definitions screens. For more information, please visit USA Today.


True Benefits

As a medium of expression and entertainment, video games are still very much in an infancy stage. Where film has been around just around a century, and music and literature of course an invention of a completely ancient time, video games are only a few decades old. As such, it is only recently that we as a society have been able to embrace video games as more than a recreational activity. We can now, with no real inaccuracy, see video games as the creative outlets they truly are. They are developed by creative minds and crafted in such a way as to promote an interactive and immersive experience. Detractors have said that these games are nothing but mindless fun, silly little things that kids play sometimes. There have even been those who insist that video games with violent subject matter inspire people to promote violence and act in a violent manner. It seems that there might still be a ways to go until video games are seen as fully-legitimate art forms.

This might help a bit. Several tests and research studies have been released stating that video games can and do have a positive effect on cognitive processes and other factors of a mental nature. For instance, it was found that players of action-based video games are 60 percent better at noticing minute and small changes in their environments than their non-gamer counterparts. Gamers are also found to be 25 percent better at making decisions in a changing environment, such as while driving. It is certainly an encouraging sign for the gaming community that these things are indeed true. For more information, please visit the KY Post.


Catching On

There is a certain pattern apparent in the world of media. This applies not only to the different types of media that we encounter in our lives (such as video games, movies, books, what-have-you), but also to the things we experience through this media. When it first shows up, whatever this object might be, it is not all that well understood. It is an alien, strange thing. Eventually, a familiarity of sorts sets in. You get a little bit more comfortable with the presence of the object. It is no longer something yet to be understood. Over time, this familiarity strengthens, which is when we are subject to the very best that the object has to offer. At a certain point, it becomes a ubiquitous part of the social and pop culture landscape. There is a certain legitimacy there, when it is fully recognized by a large portion of the community. In fact, this is occurring right now.

There has been a debate in the past few years as to whether or not you can refer to and consider video games to be works of art. Many believe not, that these are simply recreational tools and nothing more. On the other side of that coin, you have those that argue that video games are indeed completely creative and artist endeavors worthy of full merit. Each side has its points, as with most arguments in a modern context. However, the proponents of video games as works of art may have a little more clout these days. It was recently announced that the Grammy Awards have expanded the nomination criteria for four categories. Now, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will recognize excellence in video game scoring and video game soundtracks.


Greater Good

It is truly inspiring and humbling to see what technology can be capable of. Yes, we have all these wonderful devices meant to entertain us, to help us manage our lives, and to help us stay connected to one another at all times. These are fascinating little objects in their own right, sure, but there is a bigger picture here. We are talking about technology that has a profound effect on the lives of others. Medicine advances just as quickly as all other branches of technology, and is responsible for the well-being of millions of people the world over at any one time. This technology has a direct influence on the everyday lives of people, allowing them to function at a normal level and indeed allowing them to function at all. We have come a long, long way from even five or ten years ago, and the future promises that we will be able to do things that were only possible in the most fantastical science fiction stories.

Of course, that is not to say that the technology we already possess cannot also do great things to help people. Take video games, for instance. Yes, it may seem a little far-fetched to assume that video games might actually be anything more than fun distractions or hobbies. However, it is true that we can utilize certain aspects of gaming to help improve or even save lives. A recent review of 12 medical studies by a Toronto research group states that stroke patients who play video games such as those on the Playstation 3 or the Nintendo Wii were five times more likely to improve the motor function in their arms than those patients who had standard therapy. For more information, please visit All Headline News.