Today’s article is regarding the pros and cons of computer games. To begin I’d like to point out that the following are merely my thoughts and subjective view on the topic. If you agree with the article, or if you think some of it is wrong, feel free to join in on the discussion. Let’s not all be the same and instead have our own opinions on every matter, of course still remembering to be civilised about it.
What should you know, what are you missing or what lies are you believing?
Every day a multitude of computer games and DLC (downloadable content) for existing titles are manufactured worldwide. These range from simple colouring book games through role-playing or survival all the way to the most complicated genres - games which mainly aim to replicate the laws of physics we see in the everyday world. The main goal of every game developer is to create products that will be able to immerse us completely. Here are a few downsides to this:
The developers want us to spend all our time slouching in front of the computer just to level up our hero or kill a boss and acquire that awesome new item which we will require to unlock the next stage or area.
Games where one needs to pay quite a hefty sum to unlock levels, items, bases or abilities. For many players this doesn’t pose too much of a problem. They know well that if they invest in their favourite toy they’re sure not to regret it. This money, that they could’ve spent otherwise, will be returned to them as unfathomable experiences in the virtual world.
Games where the biggest trap used by the developer is an impact on the user’s mentality. There are a few ways to do this. One of them is being able to relieve stress. Who wouldn’t want to sit in front of the computer after a whole day’s work and turn on the legendary POSTAL 2 for example, where you can massacre, burn and even shoot up the body of an innocent bystander? It’s only fun if we can free ourselves of the problems of the real world, right? That’s one of the methods that allows the developers to make the most money, as entering that different, often seemingly better world, you become the man in the spotlight and only you can decide whether you continue with the game, or hold back and repeat a given sequence.
You’re probably wondering how a normal game is able to do that. What is it because of?
The answer is simple. Producers higher a couple dozen game experts, psychologists, analysts and many more highly qualified individuals only to ensure their game brings the biggest profit for the creator and the most fun to the end user (although the former sometimes forbids the latter from happening, look at Saints Row 2 PC as an example).
Games, where the main aim was encouraging teamwork. They usually have a mischievous side effect, which is anger towards others, usually resulting after a lost round, map, level or an important game event. To top it all of even a group of friends “from irl” can face pretty unpleasant situations from playing such games. Currently this has the worst impact in the communities of games such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. How many times while playing these games did a random player (who just happened to be a Nobel prize winning oncologist) that you are HIV positive, have cancer or suffer from ADHD or another disease. People simply like to bother others. They find it entertaining to insult other people and are satisfied from a successful taunt on other irritable players. You do have to stop and appreciate the fact that after a few years game developers are finally taking action against this, although not always in the way that the community or the game creators themselves would want.
Let’s continue however, to the more positive aspects of computer games.
Top players meet in tournaments that are organised all over the world. The problem is that to get to that place you have to spend thousands of hours practising a given gamemode. In the long run - as long as the hours spent in-game allow you to become professional - it will bring you more gain than to people who do manual labour. A perfect example of earning money from your passion are streamers. Many of them created their channels in order to improve their communication skills and self-confidence, becoming recognisable after some time. Thanks to things such as channel views, reflinks, donations or cooperation with large companies, their passion became their way of life and sole way to pay the bills. Professional players reap many benefits from sponsors, who often climb on top of each other to get their logo on a player’s shirt.
Developing logical thinking. For people who don’t have any experience with computer games, this does not make any logical sense - according to them, games make people more stupid. They’re often right, but there are games which develop these skills and really can teach us something. Games like none other.
Developing reflexes. Each one of our hero’s move can lead us to our demise, so we have to care for their mobility. Let’s remember that in games like these, every millisecond is worth its weight in gold. Especially when it’s a shooter game. I want to remind you however, that reflexes aren’t about leaving the game as fast as you can, because someone annoyed you or you lost what seemed like a certain win.
Developing creativity. In games like these it involves mainly tactical planning. For people, who look at this from an inexperienced view, it’s only a normal sequence of events: you pick a character, the game loads, you go, you kill - you win. However to do this well, you often have to immerse yourself in the complicated mechanics that lurk in the game code, waiting to surprise you. There are games such as Minecraft, which stimulate our imagination. For many people it’s a pixelated square world, but all you need to do is to search for “Minecraft Buildings” to see what you can create out of some simple cubes. The things people can create with their advanced 3d perception and how phenomenal replicas of real life structures can look.
As I’ve already mentioned, gameplay is often done in a group. I love survival games or even simple FPS titles like CS:GO, where we can not only write to people, but also talk to them using voice chat. Very often these abilities offered by the game allow us to meet different people. Whether this is a positive or negative aspect is debatable, however we can remember that it’s only the internet, and the most likely outcome is that we will never meet those people face-to-face.
Each one of us creates some kind of virtual profile, our “alter ego”, which we develop to our own liking, often exaggerating many of our life events or conjuring up something that never happened in the first place. Many bad people scour the internet trying to bully or scam us out of a sometimes hefty sum, promising amazing offers in return.
Some games like to educate in various ways. Taking the example of voice chat - the international lingua franca is english. It’s thanks to the fact that we can communicate using a microphone that we can learn new words or work as a tactician, planning the next round in a foreign language. Education also relies on playing games which feature events that happened in the real world. An example can be the Call of Duty series, where a rough representation of such events is shown. We learn world history as we play, sometimes not even realising it.
The last upside of computer games is their impact on our ability to work together in a group. Very often when we play alone, we add random strangers to our group, with whom we have to co-operate to achieve our goal.
Games however can drag us into a trap of addiction. Let’s remember not to lose ourselves in such games and keep na eye on the clock, what happens around us while in-game and also when not playing it. Let’s also watch out for people we meet and those who could want to make a quick buck with our ignorance.
“When everyone around you walks so orderly
Friend, fear not to look at them doubtfully
And when you shield the truth, perceiving it as reality
Fear not to look at them doubtfully
And when you believe, that your perspective is infallible, rightfully
Fear not to look at them doubtfully
And before you regard those who hold it as irrelevant to the scheme of things
Friend, fear not to look at them doubtfully.”
- Miej wątpliwość, Łona