One of the most interesting things I noticed while I was reading the Soderman excerpt, “Killing Time, Gender and Casual Games”, was the positive tone gaming was described in. When I was younger, my parents would always reprimand me for playing video games for too long, for spending all my time online finding cheat codes and guides to the video games, and for ‘wasting my time’ with video games that had no benefits. What Soderman seems to be saying, though, is that video games are not that black and white. They seem to have no auxiliary purpose besides killing time and having a good time with friends, but if one looks past the colorful graphics and cute sound effects, there is much more to video games. There is an educational aspect of gaming, not in the traditional sense of education as in math, science, and English, but educational in terms of life skills. In his essay, Soderman describes how Diner Dash teaches the players how to manage their time, how to be responsible, and how to allocate their attention so that they are absolutely efficient. Indeed, gaming allows players to train a mode of thought that few other mediums can offer. Instead of having to sit in front of a book, the player can learn important life skills while having fun. Perhaps this is the beauty of gaming.
I remember seeing a presentation about how gaming can save the world and how in order for that to happen, there must be more gaming, more often. The claim that the speaker (I have already forgotten who it was) was making was that games train the players to embody certain characteristics that are absolutely key to saving the world and succeeding in life. Among these characteristics were the desire to win, as in the desire to strive for that epic win, that next level-up, or next boss fight, and the ability to concentrate on one task and not lose concentration. Taken out of context, any other medium that could train just these two characteristics would be hailed as revolutionary, yet people don’t do that for gaming. The speaker even said that gaming had to increase something like one hundred fold in order for gaming to reach its full potential. As Jenkins says in his essay,
“…Progress will be driven by the most creative and forward thinking minds in the industry, those who know that games can be more than they have been, those who recognize the potential of reaching a broader public, of having a greater cultural impact, of generating more diverse and ethically responsible content and of creating richer and more emotionally engaging content. But without the support of an informed public and the perspective of thoughtful critics, game developers may never realize that potential.”
Indeed, the benefits of gaming are there, all that’s left is for gamers and pedestrian citizens alike to realize these benefits, and maximize them.