Games v. Real Life

I, like many other bloggers tonight, found the readings for tomorrow’s class to be thought provoking.  I agree with most of our class, as Catey referenced, that most people can distinguish between games and reality. However, I think that Simon Penny raised some interesting points in his article.  To start with, I really enjoyed his explanation of the common quality to sports training, martial arts, and military training to be “anti-illectuality.”  I think all of us (whether in school or sports) have been told that we were just over thinking and that once we stopped we would be successful.

Penny used this point to illustrate that training is only effective when it becomes automatic.  This occurs through lots and lots of practice.  He then went on to explain how the military uses videogames to begin this practice.  They have started to use games to simulate real life occurrences.  This is seen in games such as Marine Doom. The purpose of this game is to help desensitize soldiers from shooting humans. David Grossman (a retired Lieutenant Colonel) claims that other shooting videogames (in general) have the same effect on players-they start to think that shooting people is no big deal.

Although I agree with Penny that these simulation games serve as an effective medium for soldiers to practice, I don’t think that one can simply state that games impact reality for soldiers and therefore do the same for civilians.  Instead, I think the effect of games on reality all depends on context.  Yes, soldiers shoot targets shaped like people in order to train to ACTUALLY shoot people, but people do not play violent games, such as Call of Duty, for these same reasons.  I think there is a difference in how these two groups of players approach the game which therefore affects the connections with reality.  Soldiers play these games knowing that they are doing so in order to practice real life situations.  In contrast, I think it’s safe to assume that most players of COD do not see their playing as practice for real life.  Consequently, I think that it is true that games can, in fact, have real life consequences, but it is dependent upon how the player views the game.  If the player does not view violent games for practice in real life, it wont be.  Instead, it will be (as Dani explained), simply a way to improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time.