Thursday, March 20, 2008

The cultural impact of video gaming

Back in August 2005 The Economist magazine wrote a long feature article on the cultural impact of video gaming. The article is no longer available on The Economist website, but you can read it over here instead. It's a great, multi-faceted article written about video games. It's rare even for the gaming journalists to write such a well written article and it's as relevant today as it was in 2005.

The article discusses the generational gap between video game critics, who by and large have never played video games, at all, and the "digital natives", people who have grown up surrounded by technology and video games. The article also accuses politicians criticizing video games of political opportunism made blatantly obvious by the lack of similar criticism towards other types of entertainment, such as music.

The studies on video games are mentioned to be woefully inadequate in addressing the complexity of video games and difference between different genres of video games. The studies done on video games usually concentrate on a single genre (typically first person shooters), and so they fail to make any reasonable conclusions on video games in general, nor should they even though many critics do.

The article talks a great deal about the diversity of video games and how games can be used in many different ways from pure entertainment to teaching kids to learning business skills through simulations. Also mentioned is that even when the video game isn't an educational one, learning does happen. For example gamers are more skill in multi-tasking (apparently quite valuable for employers), and games such as Sim City teach gamers basic economic and budgeting skills.

The conclusion reached in the article is that video games are destined to become a mainstream medium even if they currently are not.