Video Games

Obaid Rashed Aleghfeli
Kaist University
Daedeok Innopolis, Daejeon, South Korea

At the root of the notion of video games is the word "video," which originally meant a kind of electronic device that can show images (Stiles, 2010). In fact the first video games were sometimes called TV games. Having appeared as an experiment for human interaction, video games have changed dramatically and now have become an example of art and a form of business industry (Gladwell, 2000). All you need to have to play a video game is an input device, a joystick (or any other kind of game controller, such as a keyboard, a mouse etc.), and a particular video game. Speakers and headphones are not obligatory; they just make the effects more impressive.

Original video games could be found in a number of formats; everything depended on the electronic device it had to fit. The first widely sold game was called "Computer Space" and was created by T. Dabney and N. Bushnell. In fact, it played only on the black and white TV. This type of video game was developed and transformed into "Brown Box," which appeared in the 1960s and could be used with a standard TV. The enormous success came after the appearance of the "Space Invaders" in 1980s. The game inspired thousands of movie and story tellers and literally became a well-known brand. In fact, it opened a golden era of video games that is still continuing.

Because video games are a form of art, we can divide them into different genres due to different aspects (the level of interactivity which the game presents, ways of playing this game, types of devices, the style of playing the game, etc.). Educational video games are considered to be the most useful ones. In fact, in 2009 President Barack Obama supported a program called "Educate to Innovate," which included the development of technology in the sphere of education. According to this program, video games helped students to gain knowledge in an interactive way. The second type is casual games that are usually played on telephones and a PC. These types of games may seem to be useless, but some psychologists still consider them to develop skills of time management and reaction time. One more type is serious games (Winegarner, 2005), created to develop some kind of learning experience and is not usually intended for simple entertainment. They are dedicated to development of specific professional skills and knowledge. One of the most prominent examples of this type is a game called "Microsoft Flight Simulator," which was developed for the military (Roberts, 2001).

Modern video games are impressive with their graphical design and interface. With amazing video effects, the player is fully involved in a newly created space often called "visual reality." With the development of technology, video games became easily accessible to people of all ages. Moreover, it even became a part of our daily routine. Video games have become a serious issue for discussion, especially for those who have small children

There is no doubt that games can educate people by providing them not only pure knowledge but also skills that are hard to gain. Knowledge received from playing will not be static; this knowledge will develop "cognitive maps," which create strategies to manage time, to count resources, and to find solutions to hard problems (Layford, 2008). On the other hand, it is necessary to remember that the virtual world still differs greatly from the real one. For example, learning how to drive a car in a video game does not mean you can really drive.

Professor B. Griffits, from the University of Nottingham, noted that playing video games helps disabled people, in particular disabled children, to gain social and educational skills (Aarseth, 2004). In fact, some medical departments in the U.S. recover individuals' motor skills and develop coordination by giving them opportunity to play video games. What is more, research shows that playing such kinds of games make people think more creatively and faster. Children are also thought to gain some amount of self-confidence, motivation, and inspiration not to search for easy solutions while dealing with hard problems (Blodget, 2006).

Although there are positive outcomes of playing video games, it is also a double-edged sword. There are many educative outcomes, but what are the outcomes of violent games (Greg, 1994)? If players are the killing other creatures, they may unconsciously change their psychological condition and become more aggressive and uncontrollable. Psychologists think that there is enough blood, violence, and death in movies and television for children today. They have no need to play murderers.

Too much of something can never be useful. While playing any types of video games it is extremely necessary to have a healthy environment (Miller, 2005). Many people claim video games to be the main reason of destruction of family relationships, as this kind of amusement takes too much time away from family activities that keep people close together (Crawford, 1992). Moreover, there are claims that video games are the main cause of children's mental imbalance; kids are easily addicted to playing games that keep their attention for long hours. This makes children isolated from the world of doing their homework and family duties. This is why, parents need to control and limit the time their children spend on playing this type of game. For sure, game addiction may not be compared to drinking alcohol and taking drugs, but it still destroys health (Dolan, 2009). Children and adults who are addicted to games not only fail to do their work or school duties, they also forget about sports, eating, and even sleeping.

Spending too much time eye-to-eye with a computer will also cause a "social withdrawal" effect, where a person is left out of the social circle and without friends.  Moreover, it effects the development of natural talents and the amount of time spent on hobbies (Wills, 2002).

Many people working in the video game industry today become concerned about the question: "What is the future of the video games?"  Making predictions about the future was never an easy task in the fast-moving video game business. Michal Noer, from Forbes Magazine, said that the graphics of video games will continue to develop, especially concerning colors and details. The demographics and motion-sensitive controllers are also expected to change greatly. Huge video game corporations will divide into smaller ones, and the competitiveness of producing high-quality video games will rise greatly. Games will include more possibilities to actually "feel" what you are playing, for example it will include sensitive instruments, pedals, new types of wheels, and other innovations (Noer, 2007).

According to Michael Dolan, of FHM Magazine, "[t]he average age of the gamer is rapidly approaching 30. As people in their 30s and 40s continue to play video games into their senior years, the genres of games will expand to accommodate those audiences and their discretionary income. To predict the future of video games, just follow Deep Throat's advice to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Nixon Administration: 'Follow the money'" (2009). There is no doubt that future games will include aspects of popular culture, such as music, cartoon characters, and actors. Some of these games will be extremely useful; some of them will be harmful. The key to creating a successful video game lies in the understanding of what people want to get from playing and supplying it.

All in all, no matter how bad or good you think the role of video games play in present day life, they are definitely an active part of it. If one listens to the people who specialize in this industry, they will remain so. Counting all the advantages and disadvantages of playing these games gives a conclusion that a video game can have both positive and negative effects. Video games are a double-edged sword that can work in both directions; everything depends upon how you manage to use it (Lieu, 1997). One thing remains clear, individuals have to control the time they spend playing a game and be sure that the game is worth it. As to the children, parents should not only take care of how much they play, they should also watch what they are playing in order to avoid further social and health problems described in this essay. Have fun playing, but make sure not to cross the boundary between "being entertained" and "being addicted."


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