23rd Oct2011


by sam

In Steven Johnson’s book, Everything bad is good for you: How today’s pop culture is actually making us smarter,he has a chapter on gaming in which he discusses the controversy of gaming.  He starts off with a quote from every mother’s go to guy, Dr. Spoch.  “The best that can be said of them is that they may help promote eye-hand coordination in children. The worst that can be said is that they sanction, and even promote aggression and violent responses to conflict. But what can be said with much greater certainty is this: most computer games are a colossal waste of time.” Spoch instead says that reading is the most valuable thing a child can do which I always agreed with until reading Johnson’s arguments in favor of games.  Johnson has you imagine a world, even though it is highly unlikely, where video games were invented before books.  People would say that books do not stimulate as many sense and are not as entertaining as video games.  I had never thought about it this way before.  I always thought that books were better for the mind because it gives you the story but the visualization of that story is completely up to you, but games allow you to make decisions and change the course of the narrative instead of having to follow one that the author has laid out for you. The chapter goes on to say that even the most dedicated reader is going to spend time with other media and I am a perfect example.  I used to read a book a day when I was in high school.  (maybe that’s an exaggeration but I was constantly reading) However, as soon as I got my own laptop and didn’t have to share a computer with my family I began to read less and be on the internet more, playing games and on social media sites.

Later on in the chapter, using real world money to advance in video games, is discussed.  People are selling rare game items on Ebay and buying cheat sheets to beat levels.  I never understood game cheats because I would not feel the satisfaction of beating the game if I had to cheat to do it, but obviously that is just me because as stated in the article, “The guidebook for the controversial game Grand Theft Auto alone has sold more than 1.6 million copies.”  People become so invested in these games that they start believing that they are real and important.  As I was reading this chapter I kept thinking about an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon, one of the main characters, calls the police because someone hacked his World Of Warcraft account and stole everything.  (A link to a short clip of that episode is below)

Many TV shows now have their own video games that help continue to build the consumers relationship and dedication to the show.  I know that Grey’s Anatomy has a game for the Wii in which you can be the characters from the show and perform surgical procedures and much more.  I play a game on facebook that is based on the show Pawn Stars.  I have my own pawn shop and get to buy items to sell in my shop and make money.  I can also design the shop to look the way I want.  I have pretty much become addicted to the game because I cannot wait to get to that next level and earn a “candy” that I can use to make customers cooperate with me.  Yes, I know this makes me sound like a crazy person but I enjoy it for some reason.  It is a nice break from my real life.  Even though the game is very simple, I can see the concept of “telescoping” that Johnson mentions in the chapter in it. Telescoping is “about constructing the proper hierarchy of tasks and moving through the tasks in the correct sequence.” For example, to know the price of an item I must pay $200 but to have that $200 I must sell another item, and to be able to sell that item I had to buy it in the first place.

I think that gaming has its place in the world and it will only become bigger through the recent development of gamification.  Businesses are now using elements of gaming to help promote them.  For example, Foursquare gamifies going to  different places such as restaurants and stores by giving out badges after a certain number of visits and also offering special discounts for checking in.  I have used Foursquare and have benefited from the promotions through the application.  When I checked into the store American Eagle for the first time, I got 20% off of my purchase.  I think that eventually they will find a way to gamify almost everything we do to make it feel more rewarding.  Companies are also using product placement in games to bring in new customers.  For example, in many first person driving games there are billboards on the sides of the roads with advertisements on them, or even sneakier than that the cars themselves are advertising the companies that make them.  We are used to seeing product placement in television and movies but now that they are putting them into video games, we are eventually going to be living in a world where we cannot get away from advertisements.  There is an animation that shows how creative people can get with product placement and how absurd it is getting called Logorama.  It is an animation that is made up entirely out of logos. (See Link Below)

Sheldon’s WOW Account Get Hacked





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *