Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent
header_02 home about login header_06
sidebar-top content-top

The best of both worlds: When reality becomes fantasy

The best of both worlds: When reality becomes fantasy
by Fiona Yip

The video game industry has been booming ever since the turn of the last decade with the help of technological advancements and innovative minds. This is a multi-billion dollar industry where players happily give away their time in life and money to experience the fantasy world. All the while, game companies rake in the profits.

As we all know, games are nothing new and have been around for ages. They appear in different forms such as riddles to charades, tick-tack-toe to hang-man, snakes and ladders to chess, and let us not discount card and dice games. But all that has been digitized now and converted into online computer games that allow you not only to be able to play with friends and family on game night, but to connect online and compete with the players worldwide.

Controversy has surrounded this topic for as long as video games have been around. Do video games have a positive or negative impact on society? That was the question many years ago, and it still is today. But as the gaming industry has increased in popularity, a lot more have been affected by this entity. Public schools and libraries are using computer games as an educational tool; therefore children are exposed to it at an earlier age. Businesses have prospered from providing networks of computers to the general public to play such games at affordable rates through internet cafes. The popularity of these games has crept into homes. “New home console designs are sold out even before they hit the market,” says Calvin, a sales associate from a video games dealer.

The strength of the industry is so dominant that it would hardly be affected by the worlds’ economic crisis and may even benefit from it. The idea of not having to go out spending when you can have all the entertainment you want at home is appealing to many individuals; particularly at the rate at which living expenses are increasing and are showing no signs of slowing down. Why would one go out when they can sit in front of the television set or computer monitor and live in an online world?

One benefit is that the gaming industry has promoted technological advances globally, primarily in the aspect of graphics rendering, pushing both hardware and software developers to be on par with game designers and their limitless borders of imagination. “Every new technological breakthrough is a fresh canvas for game designers to try and push the envelope,” says Sieu, an avid gamer and IT professional.

As a form of entertainment, there is no denying that video games have provided much of the modern age with new ways of interaction, whether within the game itself or with other people. As opposed to going out to the cinema, enjoying a movie on the couch or reading a chapter of a novel, many people now choose to immerse themselves in a video game where they are the main character and they, in turn, take control of how the story of their character unfolds.

It is human nature to strive for comfort in life and, surprisingly, video games can provide a certain level of that by pulling a curtain over the real world and opening up a virtual world where personal conflict has minimal impact on the everyday lifestyle of reality. This gives people a way to retreat from all the complications and stresses of the modern world. Thus, the psychological impact of video games has been discussed internationally and has been gaining media attention. Particularly with the immensely popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) genre that has come a long way since the turn based BBS games to the now every popular online games such as Everquest, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI, just to name a few, and an even popular game, Halo, for which international tournaments are held.

The economic benefits that the gaming industry has provided have hit the mark spot on in a way that has increased the demand for more writers, designers and developers, etc. These are the more obvious positions in creating a game, but it doesn’t stop there after the game has been completed and released. Today, there is a controversial position known as a gold farmer. The job description is simple. Play MMORPG games night and day to exploit the most efficient way of gaining gold and items, and repeat. The bounty accumulated is then sold or auctioned off online. This has created an estimated 100,000 jobs in China alone.

The credit for this dilemma goes to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, with Sports and First Person Shooters at a close second. Though they are distinctly separate platforms and different genres altogether, they pose the same problems; that having to spend hours upon hours of time in the space of virtual reality to hone your skills and improve upon your hand-eye co-ordination and the memorization of hot-keys.

The negative impact of video games has been raising alarm bells for mental health experts around the world. Video game addiction isn’t something new, yet it hasn’t been until recently that people are actually concerned about the well being of the future generation. As with many addictions, there is a fine line between fantasy and reality. The wide selection of video games available out in the market allows anybody, regardless of age, to be absorbed into a world where the only boundaries are an individuals imagination, the limitation of their attention span and whatever they can survive on without leaving the house, not that it matters now with delivery service. Health problems may arise due to inactivity. Social dislocation may develop as individuals spend less time interacting with each other. Spoken and written communication may degenerate as less time is spent on it.

As unhealthy as that may be, there are a surprising number of individuals who perceive the online world as a mirror of reality without fatal consequences and some who may go as far as melding fantasy and reality. Therefore, there are murders of an online character to real life murders caused by this confusion.

On a final note, it would be appropriate to mention one more issue that isn’t widely discussed. There was a time when it was thought that women shouldn’t be allowed in the workforce. Then there came a time when video games were targeted strictly to the male gender. But times have changed and women have planted their own flags, permanently, in both of these sectors. The term gamer is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as a ‘habitual player of computer games: somebody who regularly plays computer or video games or role-playing games’, without sexist discrimination. The idea is reinforced by this interview of Ashley Jenkins, a pro gamer. Even though games are still mainly targeted to, and created by the male gender, female gamers have learned to adapt to this, excel and even exceed in their performance and skill compared to that of a male gamer. This is all due to the fact that games are created to be fun and to be enjoyed by one and all. Male or female, neither gender is immune to addiction. As with many other habits, moderation is the key to happiness. Know your limit and play responsibly.

© 2005-2011, Webdiary Pty Ltd
Disclaimer: This site is home to many debates, and the views expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the site editors.
Contributors submit comments on their own responsibility: if you believe that a comment is incorrect or offensive in any way,
please submit a comment to that effect and we will make corrections or deletions as necessary.
Margo Kingston Photo © Elaine Campaner

Recent Comments

David Roffey: {whimper} in Not with a bang ... 12 weeks 6 days ago
Jenny Hume: So long mate in Not with a bang ... 12 weeks 6 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Reds (under beds?) in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 1 day ago
Justin Obodie: Why not, with a bang? in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 1 day ago
Fiona Reynolds: Dear Albatross in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 1 day ago
Michael Talbot-Wilson: Good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 1 day ago
Fiona Reynolds: Goodnight and good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 3 days ago
Margo Kingston: bye, babe in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 6 days ago