Sunday, July 3, 2011

games and more games

So the Supremes have deemed violent video games protected by the first amendment.  Seems rational to me - parents should make the call, not the morals police; just as parents should make many other calls they unfortunately outsource to computers and schools.

The argument that it desensitizes players to violence, smacks of the similar argument applied to violent movies and TV, and probably to violent radio broadcasts (though I have no personal recollection of restrictions on The Green Hornet, The Shadow, or any of the others I listened to.)  As adults, we question the ability of children to differentiate reality from fantasy, when a few moments observation would assure us that children know the difference perfectly well.

The reason I'm musing about this at all, has to do with an opinion piece I read in today's NY Times (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/how-games-steer-us-through-life/?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1).  What intrigues me most about the piece is the author's acceptance of the fact that the games are adaptive - the goal being to keep the player involved, not bored by easy wins, not frustrated by continued defeat.  This type of interactivity, as I learned from the article, is used in GRE and GMAT testing.  I like that approach to testing because it gleans the level of knowledge of the test-taker more accurately than a static paper exam could, by keeping the person involved.

But in a game?

The only purpose of adaptive gaming is addiction, feeding the pleasure principle just enough to keep the player coming back; an escape route from boredom, from conflict, from all the chaos that is the real world.

I find that frightening.

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