Weekly #6: Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs)

Social networking and new media are huge.  But what about massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs)?  Where do they fit into the picture?  I never thought of games such as Farmville, Fishville, Mafia, etc., as having much effect on society, nor did I recognize it’s potential.  The concept of “gaming” has been coming up more and more often; I’m glad social media class presented an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the subject.

Furthermore, I never thought I would write a blog post about virtual gaming and its positive effects, especially related to children.  I generally believe children (in particular) should spend more time outside rather than inside watching TV or on a computer.  As a child I practically lived outside and I can’t image children not doing the same (not to fool you, I did play a lot of Nintendo and Xbox, and especially the game Mario Cart).  Social skills are gained through social interaction, not through interaction with an inanimate object.  However, after researching the topic, my viewpoint has changed significantly.  And although I still feel the same about the core issue, I now recognize that virtual gaming can be beneficial for learning and advocacy of social issues.

While researching the topic, I came across a presentation by Jane McGonigal from this year’s TED Conference in Long Beach.  She quoted a recent study by Carnegie Melon University which found that the average young person (in a country with a strong gaming culture) by age 21 will have accumulated 10,000 hours gaming.  This is a very interesting because an average student from 5th grade until high school graduation (with perfect attendance) will have accumulated a comparable 10,080 hours of in-school education.  So basically students are spending just as much time gaming as in school, there is a “parallel education going on”.

Jane’s presentation is REALLY good and helped shape my viewpoint of the issue.  I would encourage you to watch the video if you want to know about the role gaming plays in “saving the world” and promoting social causes. 

 

While researching this topic, I also came across Persuasive Games, an agency tailored to using electronic games to stimulate experiences and influence emotions.  The following are examples of how gaming is changing the economic and political atmosphere. 

Debt Ski

“The game is intended to spotlight the dangers of excessive debt, challenge young people to avoid destructive financial behavior, and spur fiscally responsible action. It is a part of mtvU’s Indebted, campaign that empowers young people to change the course of the financial crisis they are inheriting.”

Cold Stone City – Cold Stone Creamery

“Cold Stone commissioned an employee training game to focus on the issue portion sizes and their relationship to profitability.”

Dean for American Game

“The Howard Dean for Iowa Game was launched at Christmas 2003 to help Dean supporters understand grassroots outreach and to encourage them to participate in pre-caucus campaigning in Iowa or in their local area. The game was commissioned by Dean for America and conceived & created by Persuasive Games, Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca designers.”

The craze associated with online gaming is growing and it’s growing fast.  For more information look online, you are sure to find a wealth of information:

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