A game is a mental stimulus engaging the focus of the brain in order to allow the player to reach a main goal. There are a variety of gaming experiences offered by multiple companies within the gaming industry. From games like Luminosity that help develop the brain, to first-person shooters that take the gamer into the main character’s role such as Halo, and MMOs that engage a wide audience like Leagues of Legends; there is everything for everyone. Video games are a form of entertainment, but alongside their main purpose, they also bring upon controversy. Whether or not games can be categorized as a medium depends on people’s personal opinions and how much experience they have with video games.
As someone who has dabbled in the gaming world, I can understand why people would categorize games as a medium. Life itself is a medium, it grants all living organism a unique experience molded and shaped by the perception of each individual. It allows for impressions to be made based on the senses that each individual withholds. Like life, games can be classified as mediums given their nature to engage the player and provide them an experience they can take in and make sense of.
Many videogame researchers argue that it is imperative to understand what a medium is in order to apply the definition to video games. Ian Bogost, a video game designer proposes that, “videogames are a medium that lets us play a role within the constraints of a model world. And unlike playground games or board games, videogames are computational, so the model worlds and sets of rules they produce can be far more complex…” One can see how we each gain a different experience by the different games that we immerse our minds into. When we take on the challenge to play a role within a character, we are allowing our minds to wander into the complexity of the game in order to reach goals and solve the problem the game offers. Because we are engaging the brain to that extent, we are allowing games to be a medium through which we play a role, provide our mental thinking and gain new insight and apply it on order to reach the end-goal of the game.
In order to situate and think about games through a critical context, once must be willing to experience first hand the mechanics of game play, and how it influences our perspective and way of thinking. Gaming – although it provides many wonderful scenes, plots and story lines – is not just a form of art. It is a medium that needs to be understood in order to utilize it in real world experiences. “For serious games proponents, videogame’s ability to create worlds in which players take on roles constrained by rules offers excellent opportunities for new kinds of learning.” In other words, through the different worlds that games offer, there are many things one can learn. The gaming industry caters to all types of people and their interests. The Wii can help keep people fit. Many Nintendo games can be useful to toddlers who are just begging to learn primary concepts. Even research has shown how much it has been useful to people who work in extraneous workplaces. For example, organized groups such as the military utilize gaming as a source of training.
Not surprisingly, a crossover between the medical field and the gaming field has taken place. According to the University of Utah, “A new publication by researchers from the University of Utah, appearing in the Sept 19 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine, indicates video games can be therapeutic and are already beginning to show health-related benefits.” The article titled “Video Games Help Patients and Health Care providers” tells the readers of researchers’ findings of video games and patients. Some researchers from the University of Utah have invented “an activity-promoting game specifically designed to improve resilience, empowerment, and a “fighting spirit” for pediatric oncology patients” (Bulaj, 2012). By allowing patients to be influenced by this type of game play, their recovery can be helped and altered. They engage their minds in order to allow their brains to help them through their physical pain and recovery.
Education has also been positively affected by the revolution of video games. There exists no surprise that humanity has been devising means through which humans can gain more brainpower and capacity. Games such as Luminosity have been proven to help. Although we must take into consideration and not negate the brains limitations, we must not forget the ways such games help us improve our memory and get better at critical thinking. There are many companies that specifically target young brains. ABC Mouse for example is a website that allows kids to learn through games. It makes learning easier and it is a medium through which they learn faster. By incorporating gaming, kids are more willing to learn and their short attention spans are engaged.
Regardless of the many ways that gaming has helped people, there are people who speculate that specific types of games make people more lazy and violent. First person shooters such as Halo and Call of Duty involve violence and arms. MMOs provide many goals for players that they feel the need to continue to play in order to reach them all. But even games that seem to possess no value have something to offer. Apart from providing critical thinking skills, they also offer a diverse set of skills. Many videogame researchers have found that “gamers are faster and more effective at filtering out irrelevant information and spotting targets in a cluttered scene. The size of their field of vision and their ability to track different moving objects in it is greater” (Steffens, 2009). Even the small, simplistic PC game such as “The Company of Myself,” provides useful skills through the way it engages the player to find ways to reach the main goal.
By the multitude of ways video games has helped individuals, it would be helpful if more information were found surrounding the concept of gaming. If we were to study games, perhaps we could advance recovery for patients and advance the rate at which people learn. Yes video games is a type of medium, but it should be used as a medium through which people could get significantly better at developing their mental skills.
Bogost, Ian . “Introduction.” How To Do Things With Videogames. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. 1-8. Print.
Bulaj, Grzegorz. “Video Games Help Patients and Health Care Providers.” University of Utah News. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.
Steffens, Maryke. “Video Games Are Good for You › Science Features (ABC Science).” Video Games Are Good for You › Science Features (ABC Science). N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.