Opinion: today’s world of video games, pt. 1

The theme of this week’s Sunday article is something that I have always had at heart, and I am very sensitive about. This means that I could very easily be one-sided and stifle all opponents (kidding! 😇). That topic, that is going to be the focus not only of today, but also of Wednesday’s post, are video games! I know it is definitely not a topic for everyone, some people love them, others hate them, but please, try and read the whole article before giving your opinion. That is the thing, I am happy to listen to other people’s thoughts only if it is a two-way process, if a conversation and an exchange can be created.

My first love, Pokémon Leaf Green for Game Boy

I would like first to try and debunk the myth that video games are only for those weird people that spend their whole day at home in front of a screen, shooting and doing horrible things to other virtual avatars and eating junk food because they don’t even know how to cook. I love playing video games, I can call myself a gamer even if that is not my life’s only purpose, and I can assure everyone that nowadays games have evolved so much.

A TV service aired in January 2019 (!!) on a really popular program of the Italian television called Striscia la Notizia, really gave me, and the whole Italian gaming community, the creeps. You can find the video here, and I will try to summarize it for the non-Italian speakers: taking Fornite (a multiplayer ‘battle-royale’ game where 100 players are on the same map and need to eliminate each other, the last standing wins) as a starting point, the guy speaking declares how ‘for experts (who?), it (Fortnite) is dangerous for our children since it can incite anti-social or illicit behaviour’.

Fortnite © Epic Games

According to him, this can lead to cyberbullying, which can lead to children being sluggish and lethargic. And, to top it off, Fortnite is apparently also full of pedophiles. I won’t go more into details and I won’t say that many things they say are inexact (but they actually are), this TV program is already famous for transmitting inaccurate news and for being biased towards what they want to transmit the audience. What hurt me the most was how video games are always the black sheep, and how people are not even willing to try to understand before forbidding them to their children. Children are not stupid and I think that every parent should try to understand what they like doing, and why they do like it. Moreover, parents are missing out an important medium they could use to create and share moments with their children.  

Now, games are not a single-player experience anymore. So many of them, like League of Legends, Fortnite itself, or the new Apex Legends having so much attention recently, allow you to play with other humans and to chat with them. Not to talk about the huge community that is forming around the online game streaming platform Twitch, where literally everyone can meet and chat with other players (or streamers) of their favourite game.

Still of the League of Legends Korean Championships being aired on Twitch

And yeah, of course you could meet someone who has had a bad day and is not saying very nice things (and that is why parents should always have an eye on their child playing), but isn’t it the same with social networks? Why do we allow children to have an Instagram account when they’re 10, but we forbid them to play online? With the difference that, while playing, you are actually sharing an experience with someone else, and you try to help each other out to reach the same goal. Why no one mentions the spirit of community, teamwork and solidarity that can be enhanced by playing video games?

Journey

I read a really interesting book, called Why Games Move Us: Emotion by Design, where the writer Katherine Isbister analyses how games can create strong, positive emotional experiences for players, especially when playing with other humans. One of the examples she uses is a game called Journey developed by Thatgamecompany for PS3/4 and PC (I still haven’t played it – need my PS4 which is home in Italy!): apart from the fact that the beauty of its landscapes and soundtrack is stunning, the game offers the opportunity to play online in its massive world. It can happen that you casually meet someone on your journey: you can communicate only by ‘singing’ or by agitating your scarves. When you ran one near the other, your cloths glow, and that’s it. I think it is an amazing example of how you don’t actually need to shoot and kill other players to ‘feel’ something while playing.  

Two players online in Journey

This game actually connects to the next theme that I wanted to address… but not now! We’ll talk about it in the second part of the article, out on Wednesday! Stick around if you’re interested in this topic, and in how games can actually be… art! *spoiler*

In the meantime, hope you enjoyed this article! Thank you for sticking around, and let me know what you think of this post in the comments below!

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