Monday, August 9, 2010

Gameplaying and It's Role In Our Culture just read an article online about how some people are now saying that playing video games can help people learn how to be more effective at work.  That's pretty well an opposite position on the end result of gameplaying than what I've seen in the media over the past twenty years...
Just as thought provoking are the comments at the end of the article... The last comment in the stream particularly caught my eye, the author of the comment was discussing how his skills in strategy acquired through gaming directly translated into his business skills... 
Now, I know that when playing games you learn through trial and error and eventually become comfortable with that game and it's environment in order to achieve your goals and ultimately (hopefully) win the game... 
 But you also learn how to employ strategy, you just have to learn it, or else you literally get nowhere!  Gamers that embrace strategy, discuss it with others and actively refine it progress a lot faster. 
So, incrementally, through playing games, the gamer learns to think in terms of strategy. learning process is greatly enhanced by traditions that have appeared in games over time that are common to most games...  I'm sure the traditions grew out of convenience and a desire to make the user comfortable and acceptable thereby increasing the chances of the game's success on the market.  (In some cases, similar interfaces for inventory, battles, and quest logs... But there are more to the similarities than just that, it's more in that you have to work as a team and deliver on your tasks in order to be effective.
Of course this led me to search for definitions on Internet regarding what exactly this is called... After following a red herring called 'Game Theory' that looked pretty relevant to me, I found out through Wikipedia that what I'm discussing here is actually called 'Game Studies'.

Here is the Wikipedia definition:
'Game studies is the discipline of studying games, their design, their players and the role they play in society and culture more broadly. Game studies is largely a multi- and inter-disciplinary field with researchers and academics from a multitude of other areas such as computer science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, arts & literature, media studies, communication, and more.' fact, when I searched further on this topic, I found an article from Nintendo about the present social acceptance level of videogames and how acceptance is on the rise, but response is still quite mixed. And of course, the game companies constantly seek to make gameplaying mainstream, because they want to increase their market size. 
Personally, I believe that this is a type of evolution in our modern culture.  A logical offshoot of computers becoming commonplace and the Internet becoming an integral part of industrialized culture.
A question even more enthralling is where is this all going?  Can gameplaying make the jump from entertainment over to a tool for industry and education?  I mean if the connection is made in popular media that gameplayers have better capabilities with regards to cooperation within teams and improved learning skills within their job environment, how far behind can software be that is developed primarily to help the employees learn better strategies for these very things?

Think about it.  How far in the future will it be that you go in for an interview and your aptitude test is a mini game that tests your teamwork, problem solving skills, aptitudes and capability to learn using computer simulation?

It really wouldn't be out the current realm of possibility, even now most games have some sort of elementary learning engines in place.  The trick would be finding a market for the software and translating that type of programming over to industrial and consumer applications.

At the risk of sounding like a science fiction author, what about software that helps you in the following possible ways:
Identify your interview weak spots and helps you learn to correct (adjust) them?

Identify your aptitudes and possible career choices, and fill in the blanks on what is weak in your current profile in order to pursue the job of your choice?

Learn how to problem solve and make decisions.

 Then again, like any tool, this would only be as good as the software programming behind it, and it could be used in very negative ways.  Discrimination based on aptitudes or current skill sets would definitely be an extreme repercussion to identification based on software tests.  Kind of reminds me of a movie I saw recently where your blood is tested at birth and the whole futuristic society is based around the end results of that blood test.  Gattica?  It's an older movie, but that theme has been used in science fiction in many forms for decades. guess you can't fight human nature, but like anything else, it's a two edged sword...  I'm thinking that the development of this type of software is inevitable.  It's a good thing there have been so many stories speculating about the social pitfalls of such tools.  Forewarned is forearmed!

Images by Teresa Young:
1. Fantastic Frogman - Aug.2010,  2. Floating In The Dark - Jul.2010, 3. Tribal Tribute - Aug.2010,  4. Blind Oracle - Jul.2010,  5. Searching For Camelot - May 2010. 
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