Readings 13: Virtual Reality and Gaming

2 08 2011

Play the Game: Grand Theft Desire was especially interesting to me as an avid fan of the Grand Theft Auto series.  I actually remember the first time I saw a friend playing it and was actually horrified that a videogame allowed you to play the role of a cop-killing, car-stealing criminal.  He brings up a lot of great points about why we play it; mainly as an escape.  What worries me is that children who are exposed to so much violence may have a hard time making the distinciton of what is acceptable in a game vs. real-life.  On the other end of the spectrum,  New Girl Games showed a lot of awful games targeted towards teen girls.  Where GTA is encouraging macho-violent behavior in young males, these games are instilling lame morals in females.  Most of them were centered around being the most popular high-schooler, getting a boyfriend, or having the perfect prom; it is very superficial and stereotypically rewarding gender roles.

3D Avatars and Machinima reminded me of an extreme version of Second Life.  For anyone with a 3D avatar, they are creating a completely new identity/self-representative in a different world.  Machinimais creating a story via the graphics of a pre-existing game. 

IBM Study: Online multiplayer games build business leaders – This was interesting, but not very surprising; leadership roles in fictitious worlds definitely translate to confidence and other skills in the real world.  Team management, budgeting resources, etc. are all skills developed in massively multiplayer online role playing games.

Virtual Hunting is horrible, but after seeing the way the U.S. military uses drones to kill enemy soldiers, it loses some shock value.  There are already laws in existence that prohibit certain methods of hunting because of the unfair advantage it gives the hunter (i.e. fishing with dynamite.)  I don’t understand how the same logic could not convert to this idea.  Killing animals unfairly is unfortunately a huge part of the American food industry, but something about allowing a human to remotely fire the gun makes it much more personable.  What worries me most is that I think the idea would sell; I hope there is some sort of intervention before his website takes off.

Virtual Iraq and PTSD  – We’ve basically turned war into a video-game, and now soldiers suffering from real-life combat are using videogames to help recover.  Different therapies work for different people, so if emulating the war-environment is somehow helpful to soldiers just returning from that environment, I’d encourage it.  It does confuse me, though, how putting someone back into the environment that traumatized them is supposed to help them recover.

Chinese Goldfarmers – I agree that the brokers are to blame for this awful situation.  Goldfarmers are spending countless hours harvesting/selling virtual currency for real money while the middleman reaps the majority of the benefits.  It’s also sad that the farmer’s accounts are being blocked so that only the gaming corporations can reap the profits of selling virtual items.  Greed is ruining their industry!

Avatar Portrait – Very cool! 3D avatars on actual canvasses is a creative mesh of new artforms with old.

Gaming Can Make a Better World  – Jane McGonigal provided a thought-provoking speech.  When you consider the hours, number of people, and amount of dedication that gamers utilize, there can be a huge game-changer in the way the world solves problems.  The ‘10,000 hour rule’ was also intriguing.  My biggest question about this is if gamers are willing to dedicate the same time to a greater communal cause when most of the gaming now is primarily self-absorbed entertainment.  Can we legitimately construct a system that makes people not only care about big issues, but actively and aggressively try to solve them?  The potential is definitely there.




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