The Goodness of Games

The commonly accepted view, or should I say the most frequently touted commonly accepted view, is that video games are bad for you. They lead to social isolation, bad attitudes, underage drinking, and, most tragically, the current condition of Senator Diane Feinstein's face.

 

 

Our prayers go out to Diane during this most difficult time.

Yes, video games do still tend to be a hot button topic for a lot of people trying to find easy answers to the questions that trouble our society. I'm here to say that, in this case, what so many people are looking for are, as said in the “good” ending to Fallout: New Vegas's Old World Blues DLC, “the answers to the wrong questions”.

Frankly for me, and for people both like and unlike me, video games are of immeasurable value. Back when I was growing up, a show that inspired me the most was Reading Rainbow – remember that? – hosted by the incomparable Geordi La Forge. Sorry, I mean LeVar Burton. The crux of the show, as so handily explained by the theme song, was that when you open up a book it can take you to a whole new place that you've never been to before and even allow you to go there anytime you want just by opening up that same book.

 

What a marvelous thing it is.

I want to forestall any comments that I'm anti book because none of you out there have seen the bookshelves in my room. Trust me; there's more books in here than most branch libraries. I work at not one, but two of those proud institutions, so I know what I'm talking about.  Well, that is a something of an exaggeration of my part, but temporarily believing me will be the easiest way for this article to get off the ground. I thank you for your cooperation.

 

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m44v5jkLUO1qitni4.jpg
Almost nearly my house.

The reasons why I think that games have been trumping, and will continue to trump the wide variety of of storytelling medium are numerous and I will list them here.

  1. Interactivity-This is the big one because however great a book is, one thing it almost certainly is not is interactive, unless you count the action of turning the pages. Games these days are offering players more and more chances to not only experience the story, but to alter the story in a variety of ways.

  2. Connectivity – One of the greatest challenges that any author faces is to create a connection between the person viewing the story and the characters and events within. Video games take this one step further by not just allowing players to view the events of the story passively but to be drawn directly into them, to become a part of them, not just an observer of them

  3. 3D – Yes, televisions do come in 3D now, but that's not what I mean. The 3 dimensions of space are length, width, and depth and these also refer the dimensions of video games both in a metaphorical and figurative sense. Video games in general have become larger in both their technical specs and the length, width, and depth of their storylines. An excellent example of this is the upcoming Beyond Two Souls, which tells the story of a woman from her first 15 years of life. How much broader can you get?

  4. Imagination – Another common opinion is that games diminish imagination, but I refute this claim too. In fact, I believe that video games make for great ways to enhance imagination. Poetry, writing, art, even TV. Ever see that fan-made TV show based off Fallout: New Vegas? I love that people do that. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but the fact that the process of creating is happening is the best thing.

These are just a few reasons of why games leave me feeling good; it's not just what goes on within the game, but also what also goes on once the game is turned off. The fact that some people out there – I'm not naming any names – could stand to realize is that games are not a refuge for social misfits or the inspiration for future social violence. How they should be viewed is as any other form of fiction; after reading a book, you don't throw it violently at some one.

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About 

I am a 33 year old librarian, part time writer, all time gamer, and what my cousin refers to as an intellectual badasss. Normally I wouldn't brag, but I like that so much I feel compelled to.

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