The Difference in “Doing”
The nugget that discussed the comparison between television and video games reminded me of Mindstorms. In Mindstorms, Papert explains that computers will make a much bigger impact on our culture than any previous form of technology, such as televisions, because children are simply listening explanations, while in computers children are actually doing something with the material. They are using computers as a tool to work through problems and think about thinking. Very similarly, in the nugget directly under the title “The Myth of “Mindless” Addiction”, Turkle explains the difference between video games and the television. Turkle says, “Television is something you watch. Video games are something you, something you do to your head, a world that you enter, and, a to a certain extent, they are something you “become”.
The pattern between the two writers is there because it is true. Computers and video games may at first appear in the same league as televisions, but at second glance they are not all that comparable. Computers and video games give kids the “me stamp”. They allow kids to make visible and noticeable changes and actions. They are active tools rather than passive. Video games go even further than just computers in as Turkle puts it “Video games are interactive computer microworlds”. In video games you can become something and virtually anything that you want to be. In order to become something, you have to immerse yourself in the game. This requires thinking power and is not always what others may say as “mindless”. Now I am not saying that video games are all good and that children should replace their real lives with a virtual world (this is were is becomes a problem), but I do believe that video games, depending on which one, can make you think and create. When you are playing a video game your mind is certainly at work and you must enter an “altered state”. Video games, unlike the television, depend on us to work.
Speaking of the “altered state” I thought that section had some interesting nuggets as well. The example of Marty who used video games as a way to distract himself from his life. “To have complete power and yet lose himself in something outside.” I think this is were the line between video games being helpful and hazardous meets and becomes blurry. Yes, video games to require your full attention and thinking skills, thus sharpening your mental skills. But what happens when you are always playing games and your attention is always fully directed at video games. People can get sucked into these virtual worlds and it can distract you from your life. It is fine to use video games as a form of entertainment and to take a quick break from reality, but we have to be careful it doesn’t become our reality.
I think our previous discussion(s) on video games way extremely engaging. It is a topic that is so relevant and visible in so many of our lives and I am excited to discuss further what implications you guys all think video games have on our culture. Do you think it is good? Bad? Both?