The evolution of computer games over the last twenty years has had a major impact on society. The effect of the gaming revolution has has both positive and negative effects. One thing is certain impact of computer games on society continues to grow into more and more areas as games improve. For one, gaming hardware technology needs to constantly improve and some of the changes made directly effect standard technologies in the electronics industry. Positive impact of computer games on society
- Hand-eye coordination: gaming has seen benefits for hand-eye cordination in various sectors. Some reports say that surgeons who play games have become more skilled after they have practiced gaming over a period of time. Other sports related games were players can simulate real-world hand and body movements associated with related sports. An example of this would be the wii sports game were the player must use hand eye coordination to play games such as bowling and tennis. Other simulation games such as pilot or driving games have advanced so far recently that virtual environments are used to train pilots and drivers. This gives the benefit of increasing hand eye coordination needed to control high tech machines without actually endangering the lives of learner or instructor. The fact that gaming software can be used to track progress also allows players to see a continuous improvement over time.
- Brain training: specific brain training games have been developed in a range of subject areas so that hand held consoles can be used as brain training games. It is thought that by giving players challenge and fun activities in game format that they are challenged using a platform that they are used to and find learning more enjoyable. The fact that games can set continuous challenge to improve scores and gives immediate feedback to the player this can make learning much more fun than traditional classroom learning.
- Thinking and strategy skills: Strategy games such as war games were the player has to think of a strategy to play the game help players develop thinking skills. Instead of actually controlling the player through a game time needs to be taken to make the correct decision to guide the main game playing character through the game. Management games such as football manager can run over seasons and require careful planning and thinking to ensure success over time. These games require time management and players can relate strategies to real-world decision making. Strategy based games can help players become more adaptable and become used to think outside the box. Some players will have a natural flare for thinking games but playing them over time can have a positive effect on players as they will be able to use these skills to develop real-world problems either in education or the work place.
- Future impact: Games have had a massive effect on how society has looked at such things as training and education over the past 20 years. Gaming technology constantly evolves and continuous to set a bench mark for helping people develop skills by allowing them to practice both theoretical and practical skills in a virtual environment. This will only continue to evolve as the benefit of games is developed to the extent were training simulators can allow individuals to become completely proficient in using high-tech tools in a practice environment before using them in a live environment. Using games as educational tools is boundless and this could develop immensely to the extent that learning games could be used to deliver a non computer related topic in it’s entirety. Game hardware and ergonomic design of consoles and controller devices will be further developed and will continue to influence the design of hardware devices used outside of the gaming industry. Such advancements have been made already and hardware devices such as mice and keywords have been specifically design with gaming in mind only to be adapted for use by general computer operators. This area can also thrive in the future and help create employment for design engineers.
- Impact on mainstream application development: Look back to the very early computer operating systems. They were text based and hard to operate. They required users to have technical knowledge and were normally operated by type instructions to control how the OS worked. Early games such as pong helped developed a more graphical based interface and hardware devices such as joy sticks and controllers have been developed over time to ensure users could interact with games more easily. This switch towards a more graphical based operating system was also inspired by gaming. You can see today’s 3D games user interface design being modelled by operating systems. Gaming has also helped how users interact with PCs as controller and wireless communications devices have been specifically designed with gaming in mind. This has provided many benefits for the mainstream computing industry and allowed users to more easily interact with computers. This area will continue to grow and develop over time and create jobs and better technology that can be used in mainstream applications as result of advances in gaming technologies.
Negative impact of computer games on society
- Excess playing time: While we have looked at the benefits of gaming, it can also have a negative impact on society. One such thing is the amount of time spent playing games. This can effect people in education and performance in the workplace. This can happen when players sleep is affected due to the number of hours spend playing games. In extreme cases their have been reports of students not going to school or higher education due to their addiction to games. Studies also show that parents have neglected children and in one case to the extent were a child was left to die as their parents spent time gaming in an internet cafe just beside their house.
- Social isolation: Following on from spending too much time playing games, gamers also put themselves at risk of social isolation when they spend most of their recreational time playing games. This is especially evident in consoles gaming when a gamer can play for hours on end without communicating with another human being. A gamer who spends so much time alone with no human contact can become withdrawn and this will have a negative effect on their social skills. However, many online gamers say that they are happy with the friends they make playing MMO games and feel comfortable at being part of a large online social circle. Indeed many gamers value online friends even more than friends that they know in person. As online is a virtual world there are trust issues and not everyone can be taken at face value. Being able to communicate in a virtual environment is a good thing but it should not outweigh everyday verbal communications with friends at face to face level.
- Cost: Gaming is a multi billion dollar industry and the costs to the average gamer is rising all of the time. While gaming can be a very healthy hobby it may become problematic if gamers feel the pressure of having all of the newly released games in their preferred genre. Other factors include the need to purchase the latest gaming platforms. With such a wide platform choice such as consoles, pc, hand-held and online games there is increased pressure on the cost of keeping up with the latest greatest gaming technologies. This may put strain on parents who’s children constantly want the latest releases and want to upgrade their platforms every year. The costs also include electricity, internet costs and additional hardware costs required for gamin such as controllers. Online games also require monthly subscription which can become costly over time. One way to limit costs is to game share or wait to play the latest release before making a decision on whether or not to buy it. Costs can also be decreased by looking out for the best games bundles and offers available.
- Separation from reality: Some gamers become so engrossed in games that they actually believe they are part of the virtual world in which the game takes place. This may be an enjoyable experience for some in the likes of an adventure game but it can have negative effects. There are examples of violent games that have made normally passive individuals become violent when they are not playing games. Other examples are people who have committed murders in the form of actions seen in games that they had become addicted to. Although these are very extreme examples the dangers of becoming separated from society and carrying out actions that you have seen in games because you believe this is the norm, it has happened. Society should be aware of these cases and measures must be adopted by gaming companies to stop this happening. This may also tie into number of hours spent playing games. As gamers become more and more addicted to a game they forget about life outside of the game and beating the game becomes the most important thing to them. This has a negative effect on society as normal day to day activities as working, eating and sleeping are effected as the gamer becomes more and more involved in the game and removed from reality. A game is a game and should be there for enjoyment, when it takes over other aspects of your life it can be seen as a problem.
- Education: We have already discussed brain training, strategy and thinking skills and the benefits of gaming to help education. However gaming can also have a negative effect on the development of both children and young adults in society. Gamers have neglected their studies due to their immersion in games. The time spend playing games has effected the amount of time spent doing homework or in some cases actual attendances at school or college. Studies have shown that in extreme cases gamers have neglected their studies to the extent that they have dropped of college and have been left with massive debts of unpaid fees with no chance of catching up on their studies after falling so far behind. There are definitely educational benefits of gaming but when it is taken too far gaming can have a negative impact on society. Even simple things like students wasting time in computer based lessons playing games that are unrelated to their learning waste their time and cause disruption to others.
How will games impact society in the near future? As mentioned, there are both benefits and drawbacks of gaming and how it effects society. The positive advancements in technology and education are excellent. The future impact that games can have on society is excellent and using games as training tools to simulate real-world activities can have a massively positive effect on an ever-developing society. Conclusion: It could be said that many of the negative effects of gaming are extreme cases and that games are a good way to relax and become part of a wider gaming community as long as they are not played excessively. The advantages could be seen to outweigh the negatives. Others may have a different view point to this as they may see time spent playing games as wasted time but games have helped the modern technological world develop. They have many positive effects on society such as educational value and the ability to be used to train people using game simulations. The potential for games to grow and further benefit society is definitely evident and it remains to be seen the potential that games have in many aspect of life develop in the coming years. The above content supports learning objective one of the developing computer games unit for Btec National in ICT. Each of the topics above will be discussed in more detail in related posts and should help students complete the relevant assignment task. For more good information have a look at characteristics of good information under our section on information systems.