Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can online games really teach real world skills?

Dear Williams et al,

I was surprised to read your statistics on 8% of all Americans said they played games online in 1999, and that the number had risen to 37% in 2003. Now, nine years later, I can only imagine what that number is, being that it jumped so drastically a decade ago. I personally do not engage in playing games like World of Warcraft or other MMOs. You say that there have been “trends” that the media is taking away from vital tasks, and that places for “civil interaction” are on the decline and you later question “whether newer, more interactive, and possibly more social media might be impacting those trends, either positively or negativity.”

I agree, technology is making it more difficult for people to have strong relationships and do vital tasks in the real world, but on the other hand, I don’t feel that gaming is the answer. While playing games, yes people are interacting and may learn to do tasks that are necessary to function in the real world, but the reality is, they’re not in the real world, and online gaming just doesn’t come close enough. No interaction is as substantial enough as it is when people are face to face, or when a person can actual hold or touch the actual that they’re doing.

You write that “richer media lead to stronger connections and possibly more social capital overall, whereas other strands of research suggest that the intent of the users can supersede channel effects, namely, users adapt communications media quickly to manage their social connection.” Who’s to decide what type of media is the richest? Depending on the individual or group using it, the strength and reliability of the media will vary.  

An article by Jason Tanz on Wired.com talks about the Zynga’s game for Facebook, called Farmville, and how because of it, a game called “Cow Clicker” came to be. All players had to do was come back to the game every six hours and click their cow, they could invite friends, and when those friends came, the invitee would also receive another click.

The article says that: “As a play experience, it was nothing more than a collection of cheap ruses, blatantly designed to get players to keep coming back, exploit their friends, and part with their money.” Before they know it, games like “Cow Clicker” became addictive. This can really question the humanity of people if they’ll keep coming back their computers at certain times, just to click a cartoon picture of a cow. But, on the other hand, it shows how people can learn to follow directions in a task as simple as this, and apply those skills to the real world. Of course though, in my opinion, they should actually be out in the world doing relevant things to learn these skills, and not hiding behind a computer screen in an attempt to learn them indirectly.  

Thank you for reading,


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