Questionable Motives

March 15, 2010

Why is computer gaming – at $50 billion a year and growing – so popular?

Filed under: commentary,Computers,Culture,Entertainment — tildeb @ 2:17 pm

Today Tom Chatfield, Prospect arts and books editor and computer game fiend, says computer games aren’t just for teenage boys locked in their bedrooms – they are chewy fodder for the brain and vital tools for both social and intellectual development… and they’re fun.

Games are now starting to compete with the most sophisticated forms of other media, as well as the crudest. And they are taking up an increasingly large amount of our time. I think that this is a big deal. We need to be able to talk incisively about what the medium has to offer, and what its real dangers are, instead of falling back on a vision of games that’s ten year out of date and riddled with cliché.

Why do people fear the effects of video games?

You have this emerging medium which is a lightning rod, a convenient symbol, and something very easily misunderstood. Because of the history of games, there have always been insiders and outsiders. Now, we have a situation in which the experience of one generation is being very rapidly outdated by the experience of the next generation. This fracture is dangerous and it presents enormous challenges: in this sense, people are right to see large and real social concerns in games. But most critics haven’t yet managed to open up a productive or realistic debate, because they tend to start from a position that is not based in the reality being lived by most users of new media, but rather in fears based on a few exceptional cases.

Read the entire article here and find out Tom’s picks for his best FiveBooks and FiveGames here.

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