Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Musing

Note: This involves comments made by our current president Barak Obama, but has nothing to do with politics. It's about the disconnect between the digital generation and anyone over the age of 35.

So please, don't chew my head off.

Obama gave a speech at Hampton University in Virginia regarding education and how the 24/7 media environment is a distraction rather then a means of empowering ones-self.

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation."

Um...duh. Last time I checked, the whole concept behind video games is entertainment. I've been certified by my doctor to use gaming as a means of stress release (yes, she really does promote me playing GTA. I had a lot of stress issues in middle and high school affecting my health). Games are meant to be a diversion of reality. They are meant to transport you to different words, different periods of time, experience new things, move outside of our reality. Because reality sucks sometimes and we need to get away from it, if just for a few minutes.

This isn't a phenomenon with video games. Movies, television, theatre, and books are just a few examples. When was the last time you heard someone complain about a play corrupting our youth by being a distraction? I'd imagine that would have been the case hundreds of years ago.

That's the thing with entertainment. It's all intertwined with the same debates, the same conflicts, and the same stigma. Films have been around since 1894 and they're still fighting for artistic and theoretical integrity. It'll be a long while until video games reach that point. If Obama wants to talk about educational game, those will take decades before they are perfected. To pull a Sid Meyer think about fun first; education comes later. Kids and adults don't want to be forced into learning. The learning needs to happen on its own, as a side-step, not as the main focus. But I'll leave that for another musing.

Here's my deal. I do think that video games can be used for empowering the people. At the same time, they are used for entertainment purposes, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a matter of how they are viewed, and this is where the generation gap kicks in. Facebook is a good example of this. The power of Facebook is astounding at times. There was a movement on Facebook to have Betty White host Saturday Night Live...and it worked! When you put the power of technology with the human spirit, things happen. Those who come from the non 90's era would probably not conceive such a motion. But we 80’s /90’s babies did. Video games will get there eventually. But for now, let's leave them. I'm ok with them just acting as tools of entertainment. I don't need Derrida running amuck in God of War.


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