IGI Meetup on Video Games and the Media (late review)
This IGI meetup was held early in June 2012
News of video games are very simple in the media: games are violent and teens get addicted to bad games. A typical news item would be about some study that shows negative impact of compter games on teenage boys. Clearly there are many misconceptions about video games in the media. The impression is that video games are violent shooter games played by 18 year old males. Yet, the average age of gamers is 37 and 82% of people who play video games are older than 18. Only a small fraction of games are violent, most game are clean, educational and fun to play. IGI Meetup, organised by Jóhannes Sigurðsson and Þóroddur Guðmundsson focused on discussing how video games are perceived by the media and the public.
Video games are for everyone. Things have changed since the days of simple games when there was no internet (the first game was actually OXO, a tic-tac-toe game developed on an EDSAC computer in 1952, since you asked. It was not wide-spread since there were not that many EDSACs laying around). The audience shared stories of typing in code of games from magazines, saving them on cassettes and hoping they would run, only to realize that the game was not so good. There were even stories of the Quest series. Today, you can talk to people of all ages (who think they don’t play video games) about the games they play or have played. In 2009 the increase on Facebook of women over 55 was 175%. And what did they do: play games.
The meeting was very interactive with stories and examples of games. It seems to be that more people play games than realize they are playing games. To them it is something else and the people that play video games are playing on PS3 and xBox some shooter war games. But games are for everyone and the media is not taking the opportunity to cover games as an entertainment form. They could be covering new innovation in games, releases of games and featuring big hit games. Just like music and films, the audience for games is huge. Some games are actually have bigger budgets that Hollywood films and get more revenues than big moves at the box office. Gamers want to read about games and the stories of the games. In fact, games are all about stories. Even Angry Bird has a story (did you ever wonder why the birds are angry?).
There was also discussion on if games are good for people. Do games improve any skills? In his book, Grown up digital, Don Tabscott talks about one study. It turns out that people that play a lot of video games can track more objects at one time than people that don’t. Second, they are better at monitoring a cluttered world; they can more quickly identify a target briefly presented in the field of clutter. And third, the experienced game players are better at processing rapid stream of visual information. Then think about the future of jobs when the traditional business organisations are getting disrupted with rapid technological innovations. Who are you going to hire?
So, make sure your kids play more video games.