Are games for children and something to be put aside when we get older and life gets serious? Or should life never get serious? And how does electronics play into that?
Here in the U.K. we are about to stage the London Olympic Games. It will be hard to do better than the amazing ceremony that opened the Beijing Olympics four years before, so I am expecting that we won't even try, but will instead do something quaintly British.
Games are important: they make life fun and are a great way to learn. Human beings never learn faster than when they are babies and everything they do is a form of play.
As a boy I loved to play the curious game of cricket. There is so much pleasure to be had just by whacking a ball with a bat. I also liked playing with Lego bricks, which could be used to build anything. This was when they were truly building blocks and application agnostic – apart from the odd roof tile, door, window and wheel.
But as I grew up there was also a sense of putting away childish things and moving on towards something more responsible with the idea that technology should be used to create wealth, well being and to rebuild the world. There was a sense that there was a responsibility to try and leave the world a better place than you found it.
And when electronics components were Lego-like building blocks – and not application specific – they were generally applied in a functional way to serious tasks in defense, communications, industrial and professional equipment. While gradually consumer electronics also became a more significant part of the mix.
Things changed for me when I met a salesman for a U.K. distributor of an audio DSP chip back in the early 1990s.
The distributor was eager to gain coverage for the chip which could provide umpteen sorts of pre-programmed reverberation as well as a sound boost which he demonstrated with a section of video from the film Top Gun. You could even have both, so that Maverick's F-14 could be made to sound like it was screaming through a cathedral, cathedral, cathedral.
"How cool is that?" the salesman asked me in an excited manner.
On top of your points I would like to add that the spirit of he Olympic Games has been desecrated when an army of security forces needs to hold it all together: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48298305
Games? Nah, more like War Games. But I'll still root for the American swimmer who is making a comeback after winning five gold (by the way they are 1 percent gold, mostly silver) medals in earlier Games.
Let's distinguish between "games" and "play." Games, especially computer games, are mostly time-wasting diversions (I made the mistake of downloading a free "Scrabble" app and am now addicted to beating opponent "Norm1".) Then there are spectator sports which, in the U.S., have become a form of religion (I am emotionally involved in the fate of the Green Bay Packers.)
Play is different, most notably by getting us off our backsides. Many aging desk jockeys like me struggle to stay in shape by running. But running is boring and bad for your joints. Therefore, I have made up a one-on-none basketball game that involves "running the floor" to sink a predetermined number of left-handed (I'm a righty) layups. I run in this game, but the goal takes my mind and reluctant legs off the boring part of running. One day while gasping for air, I realized what I was doing is the same type of "play" a solitary kid would come up with on a long summer day.
Play seems instinctive (a replacement for hunting and gathering?), games have become an industry. Perhaps a "sign of decadence," too.
George: sure, "play" is very diffent than "game"..."play" when you do it is healthy, no arguments here...but what if you just watch it? I spent most of June watching Euro soccer cup and found it very entertaining, many intersting cultural and social apsects when I was watching the games in Poland...but for most people reading this column it was probably be a collosal waste of time...regarding "play" I draw the line between the compter play and human play...when I play bridge with a computer that is a purely mechanical exercise of my brain muscles, when I play with other people in person it is a fully human experience which I enjoy tremendously...Kris
I often feel guilty that, when reading a newspaper, I almost always go to the sports page first. I know I should start with the news or business sections. That's the stuff that at the end of the day really matters. But I like sports even though I have no affiliation other than being a spectator. Sports and games are an escape of sorts, temporarily taking us away from the hard realities of the world. I am not sure there is anything wrong with that. The escape is good for the soul.
I respectfully disagree, George. I play computer games a lot, and have done ever since I was a small kid, and never found them timewasting. Strategy games like Civilization, Sim City and premiere manager gave me the ability to plan ahead and think through the consequences of certain actions, other games boosted my reflexes and reaction times, still others gave me a social connection and circle of friends I identified with, as opposed to the kids in school who I did not. Maybe it's a generation thing, but I have never found gaming to be a waste of anything.... Most meetings are far more "time wasting" and pointless than an hour or two of good gameplay.
why should you, Dylan? I don't understand why you would feel guilty for being interested in sports. The world is mostly a very troubling, sad, stressful place, but luckily we don't HAVE to deal with it all the time. we can chose to be interested in other things, and that doesn't make us less intelligent people, it just makes us happier. Sport, and games, and time with family.... it's all stuff that makes us happier as people, and I for one would never feel sorry for enjoying that more than 'serious grown up stuff'
why should you feel bad, Dylan? I don't understand why you would feel guilty for being interested in sports. You're right, it's an escape, and so what!? The world is mostly a very troubling, sad, stressful place, but luckily we don't HAVE to deal with it all the time. we can chose to be interested in other things, and that doesn't make us less intelligent people, it just makes us happier. Sport, and games, and time with family.... it's all stuff that makes us happier as people, and I for one would never feel sorry for enjoying that more than 'serious grown up stuff'
I do think video games are having some adverse affects on American culture. I think adolescent boys in particular spend too much time on games to the exclusion of other more important activities - such as school work. I believe it tends to make them more isolated and less likely to engage in general society. And it's a factor in why girls are now outperforming boys academically.
Watching young people in action I tend to agree with @any1...many of them spent several hours a day playing games, this can't be healthy no matter how you look at that...most end up having diffuclty copying with real life...Kris