In the last decade, recreational video games have been a special interest topic for media discussion for both their material content and their influence on families. It wasn’t until the advent of smart-phones and the commercial marketplaces of iTunes and Google Play that video-games established themselves as the most popular way to spend leisure time with technology.
The media have been forced to rethink their editorial attitude to a lengthy and sustained attack on video games due to their immense social popularity and billion dollar revenues. It wasn’t hackers or teenagers downloading music and television that has re-defined new media business models, it is video games. Video games occupy so much of people’s time and money that they are increasingly being positively reported. The editor might still hate them, but has learned that game coverage and advertising adds much needed buoyancy to their sinking ships. It no long pays to slag off video games — or video gamers. The much claimed causality between addiction and violence has never been established unlike the flow of income from video-games.
The concerns parents hold are valid — the quality of interpersonal relationships, the time children want to spend playing games created a profoundly new domesticity with everyone in the house owning at least one device and willing to challenge generational attitudes and boundaries. The question of whether video games are good or bad is facile in light of the fact 98% of people play video games at some level on a computer, phone, tablet or console. Many humans do appear to struggle to self-mediate new media. Whether you’re a user or an abstainer, no one can miss the uncertainty and concerns people have for a society fixated on screens. Having said that, the ambition and greed of technology developers and media networks shows no sign of slowing — or being regulated. Add to that an ongoing refusal of educators to adopt ‘media studies’ in schooling and un-restrained enthusiasm of some that “everything is awesome” when it comes to technology and media and any worries about Grand Theft Auto pale into the distance.
The connected presence: family and friends; game-communities and personal social media tribes impacts the quality of interpersonal relationships. To me, it’s strange that so much media (and teacher media chat) is applied to working out what is good or bad, as though there is some human action at the civic level which could now separate them. If you’re building a personal learning network — then you are doing so because video-games have succeeded and not because some social elites have finally decided communication is useful.
Whether you identify as a gamer or not — the connected presence that exists in society today – Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, SnapChat, Instagram and so on is there because video-games have provided substantial models, ideas and revenue. So stop thinking that you’re in the 2% that don’t play games … it’s highly unlikely.