Video games – the media of the future
Tuesday 3 May 2011
by Kyle Mawer
In 2009 The BBC posted an article proclaiming that (video) games will ‘eclipse’ other media. Comparing the two industries of gaming and movies the article found that while the latter was in decline for the former it was very much ‘game on’. Even when placed directly side to side the video game adaptation of a film still seems to come out tops. Why? Well, not only does the game offer greater engagement, involvement and participation but also better value for money. Sure a commercially of the shelf game costs substantially more than a cinema ticket but the movie is over within a few hours while the video game plays for a whopping 50 hours. No competition really, is it? Also an irony is that video games now have trailers that are in themselves mini movies. Don’t take my word for it though, check out the cinematic trailer for Star Wars: The old Republic to see the wow factor of one of the game’s cut scenes.
Modern day video games are simply becoming more complex and advanced. They have story lines that are gripping, full of suspense, action and adventure which are supported by some stunning visuals, amazing sound effects and a stirring soundtrack to accompany the hero. It’s no surprising that instances where the revenue generated by a game such as GTA (Grand Theft Auto) goes head to head with that of a blockbuster such as Spiderman 3 that it’s the video game that comes out on top. In fact some sources place the value of the video game industries at about $105 billion world wide (escapist magazine). It may not even be a case of video games being the media of the future but being THE media now. Predictions for the future render an even greater picture. Yves Guillmot the CEO of Ubisoft (an international computer and video game publisher) had this to say about the next generation of gaming consoles – “The next generation is going to be so powerful that playing a game is going to be the equivalent of playing a CGI movie today.”
Without a doubt with the rise in popularity of video games and the advancement in technology we are looking at a media that has huge potential. This potential extends to educational applications. There are now some very influential and respected people out there who realise this and believe we should embrace it. In Early 2009 The Guardian reported on a Toine Manders, a Dutch MP, who consulted game experts and psychologists before stating in a report that “video games have a positive contribution to make to the education of minors.” As little as two months ago President Obama declared that he was “calling for . . . educational software that is as compelling as the best video game” (gamepolitics.com). These sentiments are endorsed by Armando Baltra, a professor in Early child development at California State University who says that “What makes computer games fun can offer an interesting new light on what will motivate a student to learn.
So can video games really augment learning and become a media tool which educators can use? The fact is teachers are using them. From Middle schools in the states to the classrooms of scotland there are various forward thinking initiatives that have successfully used video games in the curriculum. In language learning too studies such as Learn English or Die by Heiro Reinders and Sorada Wattana indicate that learner interaction and confidence is increased by the use of video games. Do these all herald the beginning of a new age for video games within our classrooms?
There are those that argue that this expansion by video games into other areas other than entertainment is essentially the blueprint for the future. Authors such as Tom Chatfield and Jane Mcgonigal talk of a coming revolution in gaming. They foresee a future where gaming will permeate society offering us inducements to work in fun, productive and more self fulfilling ways which previously weren’t realised. Both have written books where they cite specific instances along with examples of games which are being used in novel, interesting and new ways. For them and many others this is just the beginning. The future is coming and sooner than we think.
Just imagine what a little investment of time, effort and money could do in the name of edugaming. There’s no lacking of these resources within the video game industries but are they likely to invest in this area when they have already found a winning formula for commercial success? I think the answer is yes.
I don’t believe there will be an overnight revolution in the gaming industry and that video games will suddenly become educationally altruistic, but changes are happening. The truth is there are already changes happening. I think we are at a very interesting moment in the history of video games. It’s a time when the potential for the medium of video games has been recognised, the topic debated, ideas produced and video games are being adapted. There is a definite buzz out there and a feeling that we are on the brink of exploring an undiscovered country.
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