Games have long been besmirched by the idea that playing them makes a person socially undesirable, nerdy, fat, and lazy. The number of negative adjectives conjured up by gamings detractors to describe gamers is staggering. Even in the wake of the Columbine Massacre the media went to great lengths to correlate the gunmen’s horrible actions with the game Doom.(cite needed) When games are not being linked to violent actions they have generally been regarded as an “escapist waste of time” by those who don’t really enjoy playing them.(McGonigal) Indeed a prevalent and sweeping assessment amongst closed minded individuals is that games offer nothing to the individuals playing them. This negative assessment that paints games and the individuals that play them in a negative light could not be further from the truth.
The topic of games is vast, and encompasses more than just video games. There are table top games similar to Monopoly or card games, organized sports are considered games, and even children make up games to play with their friends like tag and hide and seek. Video games like Farmville and Wii sports have 60-65 million players, and games like Monopoly can boast 250 million players world wide. (cite needed) Indeed half a billion people spend at least an hour playing games online everyday, and 183 million if you count the U.S. alone.(McGonigal) Considering the numbers it should come to no surprise that games have the ability to reach millions of people.
It’s not just a matter of the amount of people games can reach though, it’s a matter of what level games can reach people on. Books, television, movies, and even music are all fairly static in terms of interaction. Typically there is only one way to interact with these forms of media, and that is to either read, watch, or listen. Games on the other hand allow the player to have a direct impact on the events that transpire during play. Not only are there conditions to winning or losing the game, but certain games offer ways to change the environment, rules, or playing field. Other games allow a person to collect or amass items similar to an Easter Egg hunt. The numbers and the level of interaction amount to wide spread engagement which debunks the idea that gamers or games are for the lazy.
The escape games offer from reality is not a waste of time, and instead is therapeutic and stress relieving. The U.S. Army developed two violent games to treat Post Traumatic Stress patients called Virtual Iraq, and Virtual Afghanistan.(cite needed) The Journal of Traumatic stress reported that just after 7 sessions of soldiers reported reductions in their PTSD symptoms. (cite needed) If violent games can help those who are stressed to the limit by the horror and rigors of combat then they certainly can be effective and helpful in relieving stress under different circumstances. This is idea is backed up by the results of a GSN World Winner 2009 survey where 87% of 500 gamers claimed that games...