We can spend years of our lives playing computer games, more comfortable in a world with set rules and tasks to herd our attention into levelling up. When we put our effort into this, we fail to “level up” in real life. Maybe one day the things we do in games will transform into real life. Instead of wasting our time working toward an imaginary goal, we’re using our time to teach and evolve ourselves in a fun way. Why the whole education system hasn’t been turned into a fun game is beyond me. This is how children learn. This is how everybody learns, through fun and laughter. Imagine games which taught you valuable life lessons. Games that taught you skills, taught you to overcome negative traits. The thing computer games do for us now is give us a place to hide from our insecurities, our fears, our unsatisfactory lives. We shouldn’t hide, we should face them and overcome. Computer games don’t have to be a place to hide, they can be a place to learn.
I have been a user of computer games for many years. My first exposure to this pixelated world was when I was about 5, a vague memory of my parents and uncle gathered round a tiny square tv playing Ristar on the sega megadrive. The wonderful emotions the sounds and colours of this game gave me would come flooding back when I bought the “ultimate sega megadrive collection” for ps3 about 15 years later. Even not having really played it extensively, it brought me back to a younger version of myself, much like listening to a song you haven’t heard for years. The first game I properly got into though, was Civilization II.
The Civilization series is a turn based strategy game where you are put into the shoes of one of a choice of great leaders in history. You start the game off on a shrouded map of the world, with just a settler unit. You then build your first city, your first units, your first buildings, until you expand and meet other civilizations. War, diplomacy, technology, economy are all used to grow your civilization into a global superpower, through which you eventually win the game either by obliterating everybody else or becoming so culturally and technologically advanced that you blast off into space and are the awe of the rest of the world.
This is a prime example of a game which has some real life merit. As a child I learned a treasure trove of information about geography, history, science and of course, how to take over the world. While it did drain many hundreds of hours of my life, I did take some information from it. I warn anyone thinking of purchasing this game though, it is the most addictive game I have ever played. If you’ve ever been a heroin addict I advise you look elsewhere as this is the smack of the video game world.
In my entire history of playing video games, the only game that really benefited me in the real world, the only game where after I had finished playing it I felt a sense of real accomplishment, like I hadn’t just wasted hours of my life, was a game that came out in 2012. Had this game come out in 2002, I may now be touring the world and sleeping with hundreds of beautiful women (possibly also a cocaine addict and ego driven maniac). The name of this game is Rocksmith. Whilst many of you have probably heard of guitar hero, Rocksmith is a much lesser well known game, but infinitely more valuable. Instead of a playstation or xbox controller, the way you play this game is through your electric guitar. You plug it into your console or pc via a jack to usb cable, and then you’re good to go. This game teaches you how to play songs, chords, scales in a way that’s fun and engaging. In just a year of playing this game I had improved my guitar skills dramatically, developing muscle memory and the confidence to improvise without being worried of hitting an off key note.
Why aren’t there more games like this? A game that teaches you piano? A game that you connect with people from all over the world playing all sorts of different instruments forming a virtual band? A game teaching you martial arts?
Video games have been restricted in what they can do, the four corners of the screen are where one world ends and another begins. With the emerging technology of virtual reality will come an endless horizon, a new universe of possibility. This is where we can really grow, or rot, depending on the path we choose. We will be able to become fully immersed the worlds we choose.
One thing I still don’t understand is the way we cant open up when we are around people we don’t know. This will change when virtual reality comes about. We will become much less inhibited. We have already become much less inhibited in the comments we write on social media such as youtube.