Opinion: Games and gaming – Why we need more focus on the positive18th October 2014
Traditionally, many of those outside the gaming world see online gaming as an antisocial activity, gamers as ‘loners’ who spend hours in darkness in their basements, playing shooting games. The reality is very different.
With around 1 in 3 of us playing games on a regular basis, gaming has grown from a niche hobby for a few, to mass entertainment for the many. The largest grossing entertainment release to date is not a Harry Potter nor Star Wars release but a game: Grand Theft Auto 4.
The most popular YouTube personality on the planet now is not a singer, reality TV star or an actor but a gamer, PewDiePie with around 30 million subscribers.
So while games have broken out as a form of entertainment, is now the best time to ask if all they can do is fun? Dr Tomas Rawlings of Auroch Digital and Bristol Games Hub says an emphatic, “Yes.”
“Rather than talking about games as being distractions from reality, we should be thinking about what games can do for good”
Tom (pictured right) is a gamer and regular commentator on games and gaming who has spoken at Games for Change New York in 2013 and was a keynote speaker in 2014 at Games for Change Paris says: “Gaming is breaking out of its traditional boundaries and audiences. We’re addressing the point that as games are so good at fun – and they are – then they can also be good at education, engagement, therapy and much more. Therefore, rather than talking about games as being distractions from reality, we should be thinking about what games can do for good.
“They are a form of engagement where people can not only have fun, but also give back to society, whether contributing to education, health, culture or science.”
Games are social
Due to the increase in smart phones and mobile apps, (look around next time you’re on the train at how many people are playing Candy Crush) , games are now a primary medium that people use to understand the world around us. This view is reinforced by a survey in March this year by various US University researchers who found that by far the most part of gamers use these games to play together and enhance their social life, rather than locking themselves away.
Another poll by CivicSurvey.org found that 52% of gamers report playing games where they think about moral and ethical issues and 44% report playing games where they learn about a problem in society.
There are an increasing number of children’s teaching apps, which approach learning in a fun way, as well as games that help cancer researchers, even games that confront domestic violence.
Gaming for good
So, why not make improvements to society whilst having fun? Dr Rawlings has gathered a panel of people who are doing just that. Join him to find out why the next stage in the evolution of gaming goes way beyond the TV screen.
Learn more about this fascinating topic during the Bath Digital Festival at Games for Good: The Panel. Dr Tomas Rawlings will be joined by a panel of experienced industry experts to discuss how games can do more for society.
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