Christian Long

David Perry: Video Games

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Extra credit reflection by BENEDIKT K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

David Perry:  Video Games

Video games.

Whether you have ever played one or not, you have come in contact with one, have seen one, have been influenced by them either directly or indirectly. No matter where you go, there is always a game. Why not? Games changed the entertainment industry much like web 2.0 changed the Internet, like sound changed movies and like colour changed pictures. Games are driven by the gamers, by the individuals that play them, not by some larger creator. Or so it seems. David Perry’s talk discusses the development that video games have undergone, and the effects they have. Coming from the year 2006, his talk is visionary in so far as that he predicts that video games, while having increasingly stunning graphics and amazing sensory stimulants, would change to invest us emotionally. The game industry cannot stay stagnant in its amazement with more pixels and better shaders, but has to simulate real life conditions to us, has to move us as much or even more than real life.

“rl”, the shortening of “real life” that has been used by gamers since one was able to loose oneself in a game is becoming more and more a thing of definition. If you stare into the video game, the video game also stares into you and slowly but surely, you are invested in it. Bioware’s “Dragon Age” was heralded by gamers from all across the world, not for its graphical beauty or the dragons that it has, but for the ever changing, seemingly completely user-created world that it encompasses. Once you fight along the characters, watch innocent people die, there is some kernel of humanity that awakes within you and believes the game’s “simulation”. Once you get your character romantically involved with one of your party members, is it really just a game? Yes, you can go back, choose a different conversation option, but once you have started it, how much of it was your own desire, and how much was simply “playing the game”?

Video-games do not destroy your perception of the real world, they simply redefine your concept of the real world, of your “rl”.

People often apply the stereotype of the mindless zombie that plays not because he truly wants to, because he is so void of emotion that he cannot want to, but rather that plays because he is addicted, to a gamer. But gamers are rarely stereotypical. Most simply enjoy playing, enjoy getting away from it all every now and then. Those that have extreme escapist tendencies would show these without the existence of games, it is simply that they will show them within games out of ease of usage. Humans have always needed some way to get away from their everyday life. Be it that vacation, that weekend you simply stayed in bed, or that night you slept at work because going home just didn’t seem inviting. There is no difference in between that behavior and a gamer that exists only within his game. It is an exception, an anomaly and nowhere close to the norm. Gamers cannot be simply categorized as one thing. They are, in many ways, as much part of the game as the game is part of them. Without understanding them, understanding a game is worthless. Games may evolve over time, but they will evolve with the humans that play them, not evolve to evolve the humans that buy them. It is not as if the games create their own reality, it is the gamer that shifts his definition. In many ways, games are more real than, what 60 years ago used to be rl, to their consumers.

Sit down and play, and your journey has already begun.

But is this transition really negative? This question is left widely open by the talk, and I cannot find much of an answer to it myself. There is a need to live in rl, but what happens when we are in our downtime? I sit really condemnable to play computer games at all hours possible on the basis that we get disconnected from the real world? We cannot live without food, but what if we stop being able to live without our games? I don’t think someone who has never experienced a real video game addiction can decide whether or not it is a negative thing for the addicted or not, and I do not consider myself addicted. I would say that it is the individuals choice to live in whatever world they want to, how much they want to, and how they want to, as long as they obey the rules of their world.

In rl it is humanity, morals. In the game they are somewhere in that manual, waiting to be found, to be experienced.

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