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11/14/2003

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Avelino

I'll send you an e-mail later, when I can think better (it's late), but I will say the following:

You've chosen a tricky question to write about. Just trying to think off the top of my head, I can't really put my finger on anything. Like, how do I know the ways in which reading Tolkien has changed my life. I know it has, but what specifically has been altered on a fundamental level? Ugh, my brain hurts.

I guess that's one thing: I keep a bottle of Advil Liquigels next to my computer now.

Draigon

I'll give this some more thought and maybe post again later.

My instant answer is that video games made me much less hesitant to believe what may initially appear unbelievable. Granted I might be confusing this with my natural growth since video games reached me when I was young, leaving very little room for comparison.

One simple example is that I rarely question (in disbelief) how a new technology works. I learn why it works and how to use it. I don't ask how circuit boards and spinning discs can possibly make what I see before me. I remember when I realized my easy acceptance of these things when I was a little kid. I didn't care how my Nintendo worked. It worked. That was enough.

Draigon

Just to further elaborate on the point above before I go to sleep. I realize my above statement might convey an idea I didn't mean to get across which is an unquestioning mentality.

I did become curious as to how technology works, it's why I learned how to program. I wanted to know how computers can communicate with each other and how to use that for my own desires. However, what I meant to say originally is that I am more willing to trust things I do not fully understand. For example, I might not understand how the TCP protocol works, but I can trust that it does work. I learned how programming languages and operating systems worked because understanding those things served a direct purpose. I think that older generations tend to be more untrusting of technology because they never experienced the inherently playful nature of video game technology.

I guess a video game example of this is that a gamer might learn how all the aspects of an RPG works so they can make an optimal character, but that questioning rarely goes deep into how all the RPG formulas interact with each other or how their controlling is communicating with their console. Maybe I'm getting lost on this. :) I need sleep.

Mimi Ito

This is not really about how games have changed me... but an anecdote from an undergraduate class I have been teaching.

I was describing my research on children's software/games, and got on the topic of Carmen San Diego ... and the students suddenly lit up. Soon they were sharing testimonials about how *great* that game was, wrapping up with an ecstatic group chant of the Carmen San Diego theme song. Could it be that Carmen was the Mickey Mouse Club of the early nineties? This is a generational identity issue.

JC

I don't know if this is because of video games or not (There isn't really a time that I have been conscious and not exposed to them, so it's tricky to identify "change"), but I believe that games, specifically, the level structures of classic arcade (and later NES) games have affected my approach to task management and my perceptions of accomplishment; everyone here can figure out how pretty easily.

Games also had a part in improving my reading skills at an early age. It was my parents who taught me to read, but games provided a lot of varied texts and great motivation to understand them.

I had better stop talking now.

Alex

Hmmm... there's one thing I learnt from computer games: that sometimes, if you say the right thing, you can get the right reaction from people.

When I was an adolescent this was by no means evident to me - social skills were something that other people had. But by slowly practicing (didn't games teach us to handle repeated failure?), I have finally reached the position where I get people to like me I want without having to pick the right answer of a list, or kill 50 orcs.


On the negative side, Monkey Island made me appreciate the bad pun as a regular conversational device. Of course, nobody else appreciates it.... sigh.

Avelino

I would definitely have to agree with what JC said. Task management, problem solving, and my ability to stay focused are all things which have been affected by my years as a gamer. Pathing - how I plan my route on the way to work or school, or even walking across campus - has been affected as well.

Research skils? I remember playing "Great Naval Battles of the North Atlantic" way back in the day. I wanted to know more about the ships I was commanding. I wanted to know more about World War II, the different sides, etc. I was attending middle school at the time, but I was at the university library checking out copies of "Jane's All The World's Fighting Ships" or picking up quick novels about the hunt for the Bismark. I learned about the treaty signed after WWI that limited the tonnage of warships that Germany could build. I learned more about the British Empire, and how I could deploy my forces when there was historical action going on in the Pacific. I learned math - fuel consumption, distances; I was always tabulating how many shells I had left. Time management: I could only spend so much time playing GNBNA without my schoolwork suffering. Well, maybe I didn't learn that one very well.

jb

I learned English. Which in turn got me better grades in the subject in school. I had the vocabulary of Zork when my friends had that of the first-term school book.

Pedro

When I read your question, the first thing that popped into my head was: I learned to "solo." I had no idea what that meant for a bit...mulled it over in my head and I think I got it...
I learned that I could sit down, grab a joystick and play for hours....all by myself. I could solve intricate puzzles, beat the toughest beasts and save the town all without the input of my folks or my friends (though occasionally my brother...but I'll get into that in a second.) I think the confidence I gained from building a business that worked in Railroad Tycoon or finally wiping out those Russians in Civ the First has stayed with me to this day in the business world. I can see the path we should take and I am not afraid to voice it or fight for it. I also have an astounding memory for details, names, locations etc...I can associate persons to places to skills in seconds and I think I have Koei/Square to thank for that.

The second thing I learned, kind of building off the first, is that no matter how good you are...someone is waaaayyyy better. I learned this playing Street Fighter with my brother. I thought I was pretty good....turns out I was not at all good. With every new version that comes out, my brother has been able to pick up a paddle and instinctively know all there is to know in the game. He is so good that I actually enjoy losing to him...everytime I play him. I also learned that when I'm having trouble in a certain level or game....my brother can blast through it or my friend knows the secret path around it...

So the last thing that follows off of soloing: I learned that other people can solo too and it's alot more fun and enjoyable to share your accomplishments and level beating with someone than going it all alone. Information sharing is the key to really getting everything out of video games and life.

Lastly I learned that in SFA3 you can chain SuperAkuma's uppercut and whirlwind kick enough times that it looks like an A-Combo. But it's not. It's my brother whooping me once again.

ClockworkGrue

How has my life been changed by videogames?

Safe to say, it is because of videogames that I made the big decision to major in Computer Science instead of English, and it is because of videogames that I am now plowing deep into debt to attend a graduate school to prepare myself for a career in videogames and other interactive entertainment.

Games--any games--are about two things, really: hope and joy. If you do well in a game, it gets you thinking, "Hey, I can learn to do things and improve myself," and that knowledge is powerful. Those of us who've grown up in the post-Atari world have probaby experienced this with a videogame. Probably with board games, card games, and athletic games, too, but also with a videogame.

There have been times when I've come home from a really bad day, and thrown myself in front of a videogame, not seeking oblivion, but seeking a feeling of control, of mastery, to counteract an otherwise out-of-control day.

All games are educational, whether they tout that fact or not. Just like a class at school, though, we get more from our education than facts and figures. If you have memories of videogames, then videogames have made you human.

JC

I realize now after thinking about it overnight that improved reading skills don't exactly translate to the kind of personality change you're talking about.

I included it, though, because the extra reading help affected my performance in school, which affected what schools I went to and also affected how I was treated by my peers, which in turn is reflected on my personality. Yep.

SputnikSweethrt

Once, after playing Anarchy Online for two straight days, I went to class in a scandalously short skirt and a tight black shirt, looking suspiciously like my character in AO.

After 'living' in the game for so long, I suppose I had forgotten the unwritten social dresscode of RL.

Draigon

Something similar happened to me at an airport once ... (j/k)

mfb

Much like Grue above, games inspired me to learn computer science and math as tools for creating worlds. As a kid, learning linear algebra from old library books was just a way to get cubes spinning on screen, dreaming of fully formed 3d worlds. With a computer and some reading you could do anything you can dream up, given enough time and perserverance.

Since games inpsired my education, that of independent anti-establishment, teach-yourself, anything-is-possible atittude remained. It didn't always clash well with institutional academics.
Game development, like playing them, doesn't follow established best practices. Now I work in the industry, but at night I still work on an independent game mostly for fun, art, and further learning. That is if I'm not playing GTA, or planning its massive online incarnation.

wedge

Not a note about me, but someone I know is in dental school, and has far superior hand eye coordination (essential skill for a dentist), which he atrributes to playing video games for so long.

charley

i don't think computer games have 'changed' me, because i feel i've grown up with them. as to how it's influenced me?

i think it's helped me with my problem solving and patience. i know i've wasted days of my life doing nothing but playing on the computer. i also think playing video games has helped with my hand-eye coordination.

now i'm wondering how i would've turned out without computer games.

erika

changed me....yeah but in a complimentary way. much like a good relationship. games have partnered up with my geek/trekkie tendencies and somehow created a newer and better updated version. well, off to phil class.email more later

amar

GTA definitely led to idle thoughts whilst waiting in traffic... "I could switch into the wrong lane and drive that way for a while... I could jack that car and drive way faster..." Plus driving games in general made it easier for me to overcome my driving-phobia, since I realized that driving on highways basically amounts to playing Nightrider (stay between the lines).

EvilHayama

I'm sure games have helped me in some good ways, but I also believe that games destroyed my attention span. After playing tons of first person shooters and fighting games, I now come to expect my entertainment to be instantly engaging. This means I'm often bored by long, drawn out movies or TV. RPG style games are Ok, as I'm almost always interacting with the game and making choices, so it's still active rather than passive.

TitusByronicus

hmmm... this is a hard question to answer.

i really have no idea how i would have turned out without video games, since i grew up with them. they certainly gave me a direction in life, motivated me to learn to program, become a comp sci student in college, write games in my spare time. when i graduate, developing games are what i want to do. i have wanted to make games ever since i was a little kid. so i think i would really be at a loss deciding what to do with my life if i had never played a video game. it is one of my passions, and the only one i feel i can do for a living.

but games have also shaped me as i grew up in more superficial ways: they improved my hand-eye coordination, helped me learn to read and enjoy reading. i am a very thourough person and i think i would attribute that to many hours exploring dungeons and castles, looking for secret rooms.

i think the best thing that i can attribute, somewhat indirectly, to video games is my unquenchable curiosity. i was so enamored with games and i wanted -- no, needed to know how they worked, which drove me to learn to program. and learning programming has fundamentally altered my thought process. i remember, when i learning to program, that one day something just *clicked* in my brain. i don't know exactly how to describe it, but ever since my brain has functioned differently, much more efficiently, much more logically. i could directly apply what i had learned from programming to everything in my life. it allowed me to visualize processes behind things, like the way a tree grows and why it gets windy during the day when you live near the ocean. not that i could suddenly *know* how everything worked, but i could come up with plausible explanations. i would look at things and imagine how i might program their behaviour. it put a method to the madness all around us. how everything seems so complex, but if you focus on any one thing it can be broken down into recursive little steps that build and build until something wonderful is there.

anyway, this is getting long. my point is that i would be a completely different person if i had never played a video game, and in my mind i am much better off having spent hours and hours and hours staring at flickering screens and mashing buttons and solving puzzles, etc...

TheOtherPedro

well let's see . . .

If it weren't for Earthbound (SNES RPG) I wouldn't know how to read. They also helped me appreciate orchestral and band music better and because of that I can "kind of" compose music

...I love my SNES ...

marco

Video games make me feel free. They make me feel like I'm there in the game and at that moment I can do anything I want to do. I can get away from this ugly life for however long I want.

Rui

Driving video games have helped me a lot on the roads... I think someone earlier pointed that out. but yeah. The correction instincts (as in which way to turn the wheel when you start to spin and whether to brake or speed up to avoid a collision) that have been imprinted in my brain have saved my sorry butt so many times from messing up the car (canadian winters *shudder*)

I believe video games is what actually kindled my love for art so many years ago.

:D

wonderful topic. It's thoughts like this that make me believe the video game industry can be accepted as art in the near future.. right up there with porky's ;) but honestly... I think video games can make it to the level of Movies and beyond....

Chi Pan Taki

What are you people on? Don't you think you would have learnt to read at school, through books full of amazing stories if video games never existed? Don't you think your hand-eye coordination would have developed anyway, through going outside (scary for some of you?) and playing a sport? And problem solving is what you practice each and every day in every situation. Abstract problems -from your imagination, can be solved in your mind.

I don't believe video games teach us anything we wouldn't have learned without ever picking up a controller/keyboard/mouse.

Chi Pan Taki

What are you people on? Don't you think you would have learnt to read at school, through books full of amazing stories if video games never existed? Don't you think your hand-eye coordination would have developed anyway, through going outside (scary for some of you?) and playing a sport? And problem solving is what you practice each and every day in every situation. Abstract problems -from your imagination, can be solved in your mind.

I don't believe video games teach us anything we wouldn't have learned without ever picking up a controller/keyboard/mouse.

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