Feminist Gamers » Amanda’s workin’ my corner

Can I get an AMEN?
Feminist Gamers » Amanda’s workin’ my corner

Work is kicking my butt today, so I’ve got to direct your attention over to Pandagon where Amanda is comparing the Steven Johnson book Everything Bad is Good For You to Al Gore’s book The Assault of Reason. Favorite paragraph is easily:

TV and video games show the most promising trends. Video games especially have escalating complexity that is almost undeniably good for the brain, teaching problem-solving skills alongside dexterity. Johnson graciously allows that critics of video games maybe just see the flashing images and violence and don’t think about it, but I’m a little more cynical and think that the pleasure and financial/political rewards of screaming about “kids these days” gives people reason to be willfully ignorant about these trends. The research is still pretty thin, but so far, what little has been done shows that people who play a lot of video games improve certain cognitive skills that are useful for everyday life, and it’s even suggested that people middle-aged and older might consider learning to play video games to stave off some of the cognitive atrophy that can set in with age known as the “if you don’t use it, you lose it” factor.

There are a lot of factors in people staying willfully ignorant about videogames — If you’re being told that videogames are the devil’s tool to turn happy little well-behaved angels into remorseless killing machines at every turn then there isn’t much incentive to educate yourself otherwise. There’s no one pointing out that those games of computer solitaire that you pass the time with are yes, videogames, and that the love of a splatter-fest can only hold a player’s attention for so long: the rewards of playing a videogame is not in fact gratuitous violence. It may be a hook to get you to play the game but in order to get you to recommend the game to your friend, or bother playing it for more than an hour, the game needs to have more complexity and challenges than just “kill a bunch of people.” There are puzzles and mazes and backstories. Now, again, these aren’t always the most complex thing, but it’s still asking you to engage… a lot more than the action movies of yore did.

I happily maintain that I would rather have my theoretical kid play videogames than watch TV or movies, but there is a valid point to not poo-pooing those forms of entertainment either. When you see movies or television shows, it opens up paths of communication with others. Angrymob and I enjoy discussing a movie or TV show after we’ve seen it — particularly if there’s some ambiguity to the message or the outcome.

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