MCKENDREE UNIVERSITY Got Game?An Examination of the Culture of Gamers and Their Impact on Society Ryan Huelsmann Anth 149 Jennifer Nolan O’dell 11/24/2008
Huelsmann 2 Games, games, games!!! Three of the best words ever created in the English language.They provide the chance to socialize and hang out with your friends. They provide the chance tooutthink every move your opponent makes. They provide the chance to show that you are thebest that ever was and ever will be. They provide the chance to take down any challenge just byusing your wits. But the best part of all is that the skills you gain by playing a game could beused in real life. That is why by examining this subject anthropologically, a greater appreciationcan be earned.Intro to Gaming 101 Now before we get into the anthropological study of gaming, specifically in computers, alittle background might be necessary to understand how these games work and what drivespeople to play these games. This way any confusion will be eliminated. Just keep in mind, thisis just a general background and any specifics vary from game to game. So, class is now insession. First up on the list is first person shooter, or fps for short. These video or computergames are for those that want to get real close to the action (Bob Gill). Examples vary from theGrand Theft Auto and Call of Duty series to the futuristic Metroid and Doom games. Basically,all anyone has to do is survive and kill every enemy you see. The only limitation is to what youwould normally have in real life, just see what your character sees and know what your characterknows. COD4 at Hilhi
Huelsmann 3 Next, real time strategy enters the fray. In games like these, the objective is to gatherresources and build an economy, which then leads to the building of towns, cities, armies, navies,and anything else needed to keep civilization thriving (Gill). Some good examples include Ageof Empires, Age of Mythology, and some of the Star Wars games. With games like these, aperson can really learn what goes into in keeping society running, and in some of them, a personcan learn a lot of valuable information about characters and civilizations as well. For instance, inthe Age of Mythology, there are back stories and myths about each key character and unit. Empire Mythology As everyone knows, games involving strategy are not limited to the computer. All sortsof pastimes force people to use their minds to figure out their next move and be two-steps aheadof their opponent. These range from board games, such as chess and checkers, to card gamesthat involve the standard fifty-two card deck, such as euchre, hearts, and poker. This alsoincludes those more specialized trading card games where the objective is simply get the bestcards and find the best way to win a match. Now each game has their own rules, formats, andways to earn victory, but one tool is used throughout all of them, the mind. Role playing games, RPG for short, are third on the list, and as the name suggests, theseare the type of games where people can portray the roles of different characters and live theirlives as they would (Gill). Now, like the first person shooters, these also take on the first personperspective, but unlike them you can create your character, choose how you want to live, and
Huelsmann 4anything else to make the character more enjoyable. Basically, you are not limited to what thegame has programmed into it. Examples of this type of games include World of Warcraft,Runescape, EverQuest, and MYST, the granddaddy of them all (Gill). Here is an example ofsome of characters on World of Warcraft. Nico.se Just like the strategy games, these too are not limited to the computer. Many of thesegames, such as Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, and Rifts, have their own various charactermodels, stats, scenarios, quests, and rulebooks with all the information for each game. Here wehave people get together for a jam packed evening of mystical adventure all for the greater goodor greater evil, whichever works for that individual. Last but not least is simulation. Games of this caliber include Flight Simulator, SimCity,and The Sims. Out of all the various types of games available, this type has the most educationaland real world applications (Gill). If you want someone trained to fly a plane, operate a
Huelsmann 5submarine, or handle a space shuttle, you would use a system that can simulate all of theconditions that will be expected and unexpected to prepare them before they get behind thewheel. If you want to analyze what kind of impact a decision will make, then you would run asimulation factoring all the variables in to account to see which decision will provide mostfavorable results. That concludes our introduction to the world of gaming. Each type of game has theirindividual properties, programs, and rules. Despite their differences, they all have a purpose intheir actions. Whether it is for entertainment value, for a chance to escape and relax from thereal world, for the education of new skills and concepts, it is just one of the many waysLAN vs. MMO: Which one to chose? There are three ways to prove that you are better than everyone else in the computergaming world. One is get the highest score and make sure no one else beats it, or the other wayis go on a head to head challenge. The best way to do a head to head challenge is to set up LANor MMO connection with your personal computers. Local Area Network (LAN) is a localized network where gamers can play against oneanother to see which one is the best (Huelsmann). All you need are some computers hooked upto the same network and make sure they all have the same software. Here no one else can enterthe server and join in unless they are on that network, which is good because all of thoseinvolved will know who will they play against and no one can join in abruptly out of the blue. On the other hand, Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games are not limited to just onenetwork, and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can join in (Huelsmann). Hereyou can meet and play against people all over the world. There is almost no limit to whomeveryou can meet by playing these online games, and already you know that you have something incommon.
Huelsmann 6 Another aspect of these MMO games is the fact groups, guilds, and clans keep forming inthese games (Huelsmann). Some of them can be structured like a nomadic band, while othersclaim a server for their own operations as well as offer their members a chance to earn rank andprestige (Huelsmann). A good example of these highly structured clans is The Elite Command*TEC* clan on the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare game. The responsibilities of these higherranked officials include recruiting new players and administrating the servers on their COD4(Huelsmann). LAN and MMO both offer great chances to compete against your friends, but MMO onlyoffers the opportunity to compete against strangers from all over the world as well.Social Events: Yeah!! Party over here!!! Events and conventions happen throughout the year for the gamer community. There arethe weekly opportunities to meet and compete, and then there are the annual ones where you getthe chance to see what is new in the gaming world. Gamers of the Magic the Gathering gather round for a weekly ritual of learning newspells, showing off their combat skills, and telling of adventures and journeys of the past week.That is right folks! It is Friday Night Magic (also known as draft night)! The one night of theweek where players from across the land gather around to play their favorite trading card, Magicthe Gathering. Here is how the event works. Players will receive three booster packs of cards, which area pack of fifteen seemingly random cards of a particular set. The set for this event is Shards ofAlara. Everyone opens up their first pack, selects one card, and hands the rest to the next person.Then, they pick one card out of the set that was handed to them by the previous player and handthe rest on to the next person down the line. The process continues so on and so on until allcards have been selected for a total of forty-five individual cards at your disposal. The objective
Huelsmann 7is to use these cards and construct a forty card deck to battle against each other in a three roundtournament. This event is similar to when NFL teams draft players to add to their teams. Huelsmann Magic While the Magic players have their draft night, wizards, elves, gnomes, dwarfs, orcs,humans, and those of mix-breed have their opportunity to work together to fight and take downwhatever gets thrown at them (Richardson). Let the Dungeons and Dragons begin!!! Here wecan complete a scenario that will be victorious in the long run, find weapons, level up thecharacter, and destroy the enemy. It is surprising to find out what you can accomplish in acouple of hours and the only limit is the mind. Tome P p Conventions of all shapes and sizes are available to the ordinary gamer. Here you canhear what is new, what is hot, and hear what they will come out next (Knecht). It was at one ofthese conventions that my friend Larry Knecht heard about this new card game called Munchkin.This is a hilarious trading card game that is great at parties. Ah, it is great to be in the loop.
Huelsmann 8 Munchkin Munchkin No matter the occasion, it is always a party with your friends and you got a good game topass the time. That is one of the things that make life great.The Argument: Friend or Foe? Many social issues have arisen whether or not video game are helpful or harmful to thepopulace. From promoting violence to laziness, video games have been object of scrutiny formany years. Now there is a well-known argument over whether violent video games of this formattend to drive children towards violent tendencies. The most famous example is Columbine’sEric Harris and Dylan Keebold, two gamers who went on a killing spree at Columbine HighSchool in Colorado. Now, as Bob Gill quotes, “there is no evidence that it [video games] causedviolence, but evidence does show it can affect it.” After analyzing the incident and some otherslike it, investigators have discovered that there marksmanship was far superior when comparedto SWAT teams. Now, there are two ways to feel about this: scared and impressed. People
Huelsmann 9should feel scared about this happening somewhere else and that there is less likely of a chancethat they will miss you. Fear is the primary emotion for obvious reasons, but I personally cannothelp but feel impressed. These guys got better scores than those guys on SWAT. Think that isthe reason why the army is now using video games as a means of recruitment? Now how many time have you ever been told do not play that video game till you getyour homework done or till your chores are done? I have heard that question from my parentsmany times before. Is it our fault that they are so addictive? Is it our fault that they are so muchmore entertaining than real life? Who wants to do work when there is a video game just callingout to you?The Art of Gaming P These pictures provided by wizards.com are examples of character portraits of some thecharacters found in Dungeons and Dragons. Players inspired by their character in DND gamehave revealed their hearts desire and passion for the game. This is just an example of how muchthe arts are being affected by gaming. Mods, short for modifications, are ways of altering the game. In some cases, it can be aminor modification like the obtaining the Delorean from the Back to the Future and driving itaround on Grand Theft Auto III or changing the entire premise of the game like killing zombies
Huelsmann 10on a Call of Duty 4 game where normally the enemy is Russian Spetznaz or Iraqi OpFor(Knecht). Every time you look around there is some secret cheat code, Easter egg, ordownloadable modification that can completely change the game entirely. It takes a real artist tocome up with these changes. Gaming also offers the opportunity to branch off into other technology as a medium forthe arts. For instance, gamers constantly record their adventures on the PC, add some music, andpost their masterpiece on Youtube.com (Huelsmann). Seriously, these are some pretty goodvideos. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been compared to American folklore (Miller).Seriously, it is. The comparison is made based on the game as a “story collection, performancecontext, a virtual museum of vernacular culture, and a pop culture artifact whose double-voicedaesthetic has given rise to diverse interpretive communities (Miller).” Do you know what thatmeans? Every video game that comes out with its own individual storyline can be considered aliterary work of art. The stuff that makes a legend a legend could occur in almost every videogame. Try putting that on the curriculum.Video Games: The New Teachers Remember earlier when I mentioned the strategy games and they have real worldapplications. Now, there is this story where a little girl is attending a town meeting and themayor is announcing plans to change their methods in handling garbage. Well, this little girl hasa better idea than what was proposed by the mayor, and no one believed that she could havecome up with such a brilliant idea because she has no expertise and experience in the matter.The only place she got this idea from was playing the video game SimCity, and it showed her thebest way to perform this action efficiently and effectively. In the end, I believe they dismissedher plan, but they will be sorry once they realize she was right (Gill).
Huelsmann 11 This is just one example of video games are becoming the new teachers. Schools alreadyhave opened their classrooms to the computer lab to help teach their students. Games, such asReader Rabbit, The Oregon Trail, Spore, and The Magic School Bus: Study of the Solar System,are becoming more and more common in elementary schools. It is the new way of learning andevolving their younger minds (Gill). Super Spore As mentioned earlier, simulations are the best tool in simulations. A step-up insimulations is virtual reality. Virtual reality is immense full of simulations so much so that areality is generated by this advance piece of programming. Now with VR and is keycharacteristics of interactivity, three-dimensionality, and real-time feedback, we can use it tofoster cultural awareness and to develop immense language skills in ways beyond ourimagination (O’Brien). By giving them the chance to experience firsthand in a controlledsetting, students will be able to learn better than a video or instructor ever could. As we all know, learning is not restricted to just the classroom or video games. Anythingcan increase your knowledge and help you out later in life. All that is needed is a means to relateto it.
Huelsmann 12Conclusion Finally, we have come to the end. Now let’s review how games have benefited society.There are many games out there, and each one offers a variety of skills from the strategicthinking to technical expertise. Gaming offers a chance to socialize with others who share theirinterests. Gaming is a means to inspire the arts. Gaming is also grants the opportunity toeducating people in ways that no one could ever conceive. The benefits of gaming have gonebeyond the purpose of entertaining, but instead offer a chance for people to better themselves.
Huelsmann 13 Works CitedCOD4 at Hilhi. Flickr. 1 May 2008. 23 Nov. 2008 <http://http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=a9g_bf4ikcpjjzqa5dejzbkf/sig=129d24auh/exp=1227585928/* *http%3a//www.flickr.com/photos/26230102@n08/2457301146/>.Foto+Age+of+Empires. Juego Mania. 23 Nov. 2008 <http://www.juegomania.org/pc/>.Foto+Age+of+Mythology. Juego Mania. 23 Nov. 2008 <http://www.juegomania.org>.Gill, Bob. "Evil Influence, Educational Tools, or Waste of TIme." Brown Bag. McKendree College, Lebanon. Oct. 2008. Instructional Media Manager at St. Charles Communtiy College.Huelsmann, Adam M. "Gamers." Personal interview. Autumn 2008. *TEC* clan Major, experience in clans on COD4Huelsmann, Ryan S. Back of Magic Card [Back of Magic Card]. 24 Nov. 2008. Scanned at my house.Knecht, Larry. "Gamer." Personal interview. Autumn 2008. Genaeral all around gamerMagic Card edited. Flckr. 12 July 2007. 23 Nov. 2008 <http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=a9g_bhkvlspjcsoakzcjzbkf/sig=124b17dr7/exp=1227587349/**http %3a//www.flickr.com/photos/cardenas/788634811/>.Miller, Kiri. "Grove Street Grimm: Grand Theft Auto and Digital Folklore." Journal of American Folklore 121. Summer 2008. Project Muse. Hollman Library, Lebanon. 3 Nov. 2008. Keyword: Http://wf2dnvr17.webfeat.org/.Munchkin_base. Black Dog Accessories. 23 Nov. 2008 <http://www.blackdogaccessories.com/207.htm>.Nico.se. My WoW characters. Flickr. 30 Dec. 2006. 23 Nov. 2008 <http://www.flickr.com/photos/nico_punkt_se/338351501/>.
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