So I Like Video Games Essay

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Video games have dominated the world. In every part of the civilized world, you can find not only children, but adults, not only men, but women as well, playing video games. People of every sort play video games. Arcades and other amusement centers provide people where they can play video games and one can also enjoy it in the comfort of their homes. There have been many platforms or game consoles that are existent today in the market with all sorts of games: from puzzles to sports, from adventure to violence. Video games have not only provided entertainment to those who enjoy it.

It has also provided a means to learning and has also provided a means to train technical personnel like in aeronautics through the application of flight simulations, and in the military through the application of various combat and tactical simulations. History of Video Games Mankind has played games throughout its history. Whether it is in form of hunt, dice, cards and primitive board games, people have left artifacts indicating play as part of their legacy. As technology progresses so, too, did our capacity for play changed.

The idea of a video game may have started in 1949 when a young engineer named Ralph Baer was given an assignment to build a television set. He wanted to incorporate some kind of a game into the set but his managers rejected the idea. It would take another 18 years for his idea to become reality. (Herman, 2008) In 1958, Willy Higinbotham decided to create a little interactive game using an oscilloscope, an analog computer, and some basic push buttons. The result was a simple tennis game called “Tennis for Two”, which was the earliest known electronic game. It was a big hit but Higinbotham had no interest in marketing the idea.

In the summer of 1962, Steve Russell and his team developed Spacewar to demonstrate the PDP-1 computer. The PDP-1 was a remarkably new technology as while most computers during that time had only generated output in the form of punch cards or paper tape, the PDP-1 had a monitor display. It is because of this new technology, and unlike Tennis for Two which only used hard-wire electronic circuitry, that Spacewar is considered to be the first real computer game which ultimately spawned a number of significant ripples in the fabric of the history of computer games. (DeMaria, 2003, p. 0, 12)

In 1965, Nolan Bushnell envisioned an arcade filled with computer games but it did not come into realization as computer’s are much to expensive to make the idea feasible. In 1966, Baer rekindled his idea to use televisions for interactive games (Herman, 2008). With the help of Bob Tremblay, they used two vacuum tubes that could place two movable spots on the screen. They played a ‘Chase Game’ in which one spot was pretended to be a fox and the other a hound. The objective was to have the hound chase the fox until it was caught by touching the ‘fox’ spot with the ‘hound’ spot.

Bill Harrison joined the team in 1967, and with the use of a toy gun, he designed a circuitry that allowed it to shoot the spots on the screen. Bill Rusch also joine the team and introduced the idea to turn the spot into a ball. By November 1967, the team had produced a working two-player Ping-Pong game. From that, a system of programmable games was culminated in Baer’s “Brown Box”. The team dealt with Magnavox to market the device and in 1972, the first home vidoe game system, the Magnavox Odyssey, was launched. Because of his ideas, Ralph Baer became the “Father of Video Games”. (DeMaria, 2003, p. 14-15)

While Baer and his team was working, Bushnell is also developing his own ideas of video games in arcades. He used a Data General 1600 and built a game called ‘Computer Space’ in its hardware and the game was released in 1971 but did not do well in the market as there were not too many arcades back then. In 1972, Bushnell decided to form his own company with partner Ted Dabney which they called Atari. Bushnell hired Al Alcorn to program a simple game which was later called Pong. Al Alcorn himself described its success: “Pong was a runaway smash hit in the coin-op amusement business… There were pinballs, claws, driving games.

Nothing like this. Pong was the biggest success anyone had seen” (DeMaria, 2003, p. 20-21). From here on, video game companies like Nintendo, Namco, Sega, Sony and others emerged. Development of Video Games The development of video games is undertaken by a developer which will also include progammers and graphic designers. Over the years this has expanded to include sound, musicals, cinematography and animation designers, all of which are managed by producers. As with most industrial development, video game development starts as an idea which must then be approved by a developer or producer.

Game designers present their project which describes the concept and major gameplay element in detail before a full-scale production begins. A skeleton crew of programmers and artists begin the work by showcasing through prototypes the game features. Full-scale production begins when the project is fully staffed. Programmers write a source code. artists develop game assets such as the models of characters and other game elements. Sound engineers develop sound effects and composers develop music for the game. Game designers continually modify game design. Features and element are often added or removed.

Testers start working once any part of the game is playable. Modifications are done to fix ‘bugs’. Once the game features are completed or has reached its final version and everything is already working and passed the tests, the game is now ready to be released in the market. (Vorderer, 2006, p. 16-17) Different components of a game that developers must consider in game design includes mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics. Peter Vorderer (2006) gave an explanation of these components: The mechanics of the game refers to the specifics of what can happen in a game—that is what the elements, the characters for example, in the game can do.

These are always defined explicitly and are entirely predictable. The dynamics of the game, on the other hand, describes how the specific elements interact. These often rely on effects of multiple elements acting together and result in unpredictable systemic behavior. When a player can learn and manipulate the dynamics easily using the game’s mechanics, and when the dynamics create a perceptually pleasing, cognitively nonlinear, or socially valuable results, then the gameplay tends to be desirable and fun. The aesthetics describe the reactions in the player evoked by the unpredictability arising from the dynamic interactions in the game.

It often involves the psychological arousal and emotions the game evokes on the players. Developers must work through the game’s mechanics and dynamics to create the desired aesthetics. Types of Video Games Video games have different genre or styles of gameplay. Each genre has its typical dynamics and design constraints. These inform an often limit everything from user interface conventions to gameplay dynamics and aesthetics. Peter Voderer, in his book Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences, enumerated some of the genres of video games that represents majority of the games developed over the past 20 years:

Puzzle games are typically the simplest games to pick up and play. The games present the players with one or more puzzles to be solved, often under time pressure or increasing complexity. These are often visually attractive, easy to learn and require little time commitment. At their best, these games enable players to “surf” in a psychologically aroused state. Shooters, also known as first-person shooter (FPS), have emerged as one of the most exciting, and violent, types of games. The typical interaction is to shoot at and kill multiple enemies in pursuit of some goal.

Role-playing games (RPGs) allow the player to take on the role of a hero on a quest to right a wrong or achieve a great destiny. These games are typically played from a graphically third-person perspective. The player fights enemies, retrieves treasures, and can talk with computer run characters. Graphical quality is imporant in these games from an atmospheric point of view. Sports games simulate known activities ranging from realistic professional basketball to car racing, fly-fishing or snowboarding taken to the point of fantasy.

These games are known for their attention to detail, scrupulous following of the rules as set down in the sport itself, and faithful real-world physics. Simulation games also attempt to faithfully simulate some real-world actiivity or an extension of some activity. These games succeed primarily on the cognitive engagement provided by the gameplay. Strategy games most often consist of many character units to explore the landscape, expand a controlled area, exploit resources to create new units and exterminate the enemies.

Primary gameplay elements are cognitive and sometime social. Graphics is also important in the design of these kinds of games. The last major genre of games today are massively multiplayer games or more commonly known as massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG). These games present the players a with a persistent world that remains in pace and in play even after any individual player has ended his or her play session. The gameplay typically focuses on killing enemies, gathering treasures, completing quests, and gaining power within the game.

Players also spend a great deal of time socializing with each other, crafting and trading in-game items, and creating communities within and outside the game. These games present a stage for social dynamics not seen in any other games and combine the perceptual elements of FPS games, the cognitive aspects of strategy and simulation games, and provide a greater social component than do games in other genres. (p. 11-12) Role of Video Games Home computers were often marketed as having important educational benefits for users while at the same time producing a source of novel entertainment.

Computer or video games have represented a form of recreational pursuit and, for regular players, these games become an integral part of their leisure activities. In 2003, computer an video game software sales totalled $7 billion in the US alone (Vorderer, 2006, p. 1). People are driven to a particular game because it provides competition and challenge to players (Vorderer, 2006, p. 2). In this way, video games provide a different approach to learning. Video games has the potential to fully engage learners and provide motivation.

According to James Paul Gee (2005), in his book Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul: Pleasure and Learning, “video games are good for your soul when you play them with thought, reflection and engagement with the world around you” (p. 1). Video games provides the players of finding patterns, which is what is most characteristic about human intelligence (p. 13). Gee (2005) further explained that video games give humans deep pleasure connected to the ways in which the human mind works (p. 15). According to Gunter (1998, p. 27), “children look for video games that offer intellectual challenge…

Arcade games have been found to be better educational tools for learning-disabled children than educational games or education in general. ” She further added that playing video games served as an introduction to computing, which provided an opportunity for youngsters to develop and practice the cognitive skills needed to operate computer technologies effectively (p. 28). Gunter (1998) pointed out an important key point in the importance of video games as learning tools: “players generally have to pick up the rules through trial-and-error and the testing of hypotheses rather than by being told in advance.

This makes them, potentially, a powerful source of cognitive learning and skill acquisition” (p. 23). Players also use their intellect to solve complex problems and issues within the game and try different solutions to find the best possible answer. Research has also shown that people tend to learn best when entertained and when they can use their own creative skills to attain complex goals. It has also been pointed out that video games can increase the rate of the player’s neural pathway thereby speeding up decision making processes (Gibson, 2006, p. 153, 155, 162).

In a survey made by David Gibson (2006), many respondent at least believed that video games, multiplayer games in particular, encouraged, promoted and inspired creative thinking (p. 165). In her article Interactive Video Games for Health Promotion: Effects on Knowledge, Self-Efficacy, Social Support, and Health, Debra Lieberman (1997) included responses from children who were interviewed separately on the difference between learning books, video games or video tapes. Some of the responses were: “Video games put the person in the environment. ” (Boy, age 12) A video game makes you watch carefully. ” (Boy, age 11)

“A video game is more fun. There’s action, not just words. ” (Girl, age 11) “A book can explain, but you have the experience in a video game. ” (Girl, age 8) “With a video game you get to practice more. ” (Girl, age 7) “A video game tells you if you’re wrong, so you can learn. ” (Girl, age 6) Although many of today’s popular video games portray graphic violence and negative social stereotypes, video games can also be designed to avoid these problems and instead promote more desirable skills and learning.

Video games offer unlimited chances for repetition and rehearsal, and messages can be individualized based on the performance of the game (Lieberman, 1997). There are, of course, critics of video gaming citing, aside others, addiction, aggressive behavior and violence as negative effects of video games. However, a meta-analysis of the video gaming literature conducted in 2001 found only a minute relationship between hostile behavior and violent video games. Players of multiplayer games also said that it helped them make new friends and develop relationships.

Not only does video games provide new ways of learning, but has also provided an avenue to social activities. “The evolution of gaming into an interactive experience can potentially assist in motivating students and helping to develop problem solving, creative and communication skills” (Gibson, 2006, p. 152). MMORPGs in particular allow players not only “to explore new worlds but to explore diverse new beings and to increase camaraderie with others across the globe” (Gibson, 2006, p. 154).

Video games can also be an intrument to actually experience guilt and experiment with various actions. Unlike movies, books and other forms of entertainment, video games allow players to play leading roles and heroes. Players can choose multiple paths and the consequences allow the player to reflect on the morality of their choices. (Gibson, 2006, p 155) Video Games in the Military Not only do video games play an important part in entertainment and a source of learning, video games has played a part in military training—as well as other fields like medicine.

According to Nina Hauntemann, producer of Game Over: Gender, Race, & Violence in Video Games, “video games and militarism have an old history. Games of all sorts—video games, boeard games, and games kids play at the backyard—have historically been about conflict and warfare… Video games that deal with military conflict… continue to make play out of warfare in an extremely realistic manner. ” (Barron, 2008) In 1980, Atari coin-op designer Ed Rottberg creates a game called Battlezone which was also the first three-dimensional first-person game. The players are in a tank on a virtual battlefield.

The objective of the game was to find and destroy tanks and saucers. The players can also hide behind solid block or manuever in rapid turns when fired upon by enemy tanks. A version of the game, called the Bradley Trainer (also known as Army Battlezone or Military battlezone), was designed for use of the US Army as targetting training for gunners on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The Bradley Trainer differs dramatically from the original Battlezone as it features helicopters, missiles, and machine-guns. Furthermore, the tank in the Bradley Trainer does not move and the guns simply rotate.

In 2001, a contractor for the US military was asked to developed a simulator called Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRE) to help train soldiers heading for combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. The program includes and audio channel that creates floor-shaking sound effects; smell like burning coal could also be pumped into the room; participants can gesture and touch objects and elicit responses from the simulator; and the machine would also use voice-recognition technology and different languages to allow participants to converse with the characters they encounter.

Bill Swartout, director of technology at the Institute of Creative Technologies, the creatores of MRE, said that no type of simulator or technology is intended to replace the real-world training. Instead, the experience is meant to familiarize soldiers with some of the customs, cultural factors, and situations they may encounter in another country, many for the first time. Brig. Gen. Steve Seay, the then commander general of th Army’s Simulation, Training, and Information Command unit, agreed with Swartout that soldiers are statistically better-prepared for actual encounters if they’ve had some kind of high-tech training beforehand.

Strategic games for military personnel also intends to increase awareness of a team-fighting approach (Sieberg, 2001) In 2002, the Army got into the game business when it released America’s Army, essentially as an interactive Army recruitment ad. With its success, the Army then set up a video game studio to write other kinds of software to simulate training for a variety of armed forces and government project.

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