|mict | |Digital Games | |A Review of the Literature | | | |Mohd Faiz Bin Alias | |C60405100001 | |AEU UNIVERSITY | |KUALA LUMPUR | | | Over the past 30 years digital games has become a huge industry mainly in the entertainment sector. Digital games have become a common activity to fill out time or just simply for leisure.
In US and Europe the digital games industry has contributed in developing their economy by providing jobs and even establishing multibillion dollar corporations. In Malaysia through MDEC, the government beginning to nurture this industry hoping that someday the nation will become a major player in this creative industry. MDEC’s role is to support ICT and multimedia companies by offering tax exemption as well as grants to expand the businesses. Over the years MDEC has provided nationwide training and knowhow to the industry player and education community. This review of literature will focus on these 2 questions: 1. Can digital game become more than a tool for entertainment? 2. Can digital game be used in other sectors besides entertainment?
Digital games today are pretty much available in most of consumers’ electronic devices such as handphones, laptops , PC, and so forth, and the devices that offer these digital games are growing every day. This accessibility means that digital games have the potential to innovate the lives of people today. DEFINITION The term ‘digital’ as stated in the website Searchstorage. com (2010) elaborates ‘digital’ as an electronic technology store and generate data in bits and bytes and require an electronic devices in order to read and generate the data. Meanwhile the definition of games as best explained in a book by Jim Thompson, Barnaby Berbank-Green and Nic Cusworth (2007) as ‘a recreational activity which has commonly agreed rules to achieve an outcome which there is usually a winner or a loser'( p. 13 ).
Thus digital game perhaps can be defined as a recreational activity that involves a set of rules and is played using an electronic device. Discussing about games in his book, Jim et al. (2007) wrote that before the emerging era of digital, people already played games to entertain themselves or to seek a challenge with other players. The earlier games ever recorded was the Senet, which is an ancient Egyptian game dated back in 3500 B. C. At this time people played games to seek a challenge with one another. Provided with a set of rules, usually this rules end up with a winner or a loser . This rules are inherited by most digital games that we play today. Jim et al. 2007) further wrote that these game rules, which is called ‘game mechanics’ by game designers, has over time evolved from a simple winner to loser concept to include more complex mechanics such as strategy, diplomacy, resource management, territory control and even luck. He discussed there are two type of games; there are non- digital games and digital games. Non-digital games encompass board games like Chess and Monopoly. These are considered as a family entertainment type of game and victory depends on thinking strategically or on luck. There is also a card game called ‘Magic: The Gathering’ where players play the cards that represent wizards and magical creatures. Each card carries certain points and player will duel with their cards to assume victory.
This game requires luck as players need to randomly purchase cards that carry the highest point. Table top war games are another type of non-digital game. Player will play with miniature figures where they need to strategically think of winning the combat scenario. Digital games on the other hand inherited most of the principles in non-digital game but has evolved into popular styles such as the ‘shoot-em-up’. Space Invader in1962 was its pioneer. There are no complex rules in this type of game; the player literally blows away the opponent. This type of game is really popular perhaps because it stimulates the eye-and-hand coordination and body reflexes and does not require a lot of thinking.
This type of game then evolved to become a ‘first person shooter’ where the rules of game is much more complex and the player is required to coordinate action strategically. However as the name suggests it is still about killing or being killed. Strategy games meanwhile give the player a number of resources to manage. When you make a move you need to think about its collateral effect. In this game the player need to learn to manage resources and formulate strategies. Another popular and widely available type of game is the puzzle game. It is most commonly played because it suits all gender and ages. It is also available in many platforms due to its simple graphic requirements and addictive game play.
Structurally, digital games are divided into two, these are linear and sandbox. Linear implies a scripted game where the player is required to go from one level to another as set by the rules of the game. The player cannot skip levels without finishing earlier levels. This type of game ends after a couple of hours of game play. Sandbox game offer more freedom to the player, it gives flexibility to explore the environment. Player can spend unlimited hours in the game. This type of game is not being scripted and normally the story will be set by the players themselves. HISTORY According to Wikipedia. com (2010) the earliest digital game perhaps dated in 1947 when Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. nd Estle Ray Mann developed a cathode tube amusement device by creating missile games. Tic Tac Toe followed in 1952, Tennis for Two in 1958, and Space Wars in 1961. Each of this game was limited to a specific electronic device. Digital games become commercially available around 1971 when a game called Computer Space was sold in coin-operated video games in arcade centers. The first home console hit homes in 1970. It was developed by Magnavox Oddesey using the standard television for the monitor. The year 1972 and 1975 saw Atari’s Pong game. Iain Simons (2007) describe in detail that by the early 1980s there were almost dozens of game companies being established with most of them joining the newly established console market.
The public’s interest in this new digital home entertainment grew. Unfortunately the demand induces the game maker to forget the importance of creating a good game which results in mediocre games flooding the market at the time. In 1983 the game industry crashed and most of the game companies were closed down. It is at this time that the public thought would be the end of the digital games era. Fortunately the digital game industry was created to survive. With the advent of new technology many products undergo innovation, and in 1985 Japanese companies started to develop a new console based on the western model. The introduction of Nintendo Entertainment system helped to revive the game industry.
New platform games started to emerge such as Atari 800, IBM PC , Amiga, and Apple 2. The developer since learnt their lesson and high qualities games were being developed such as Tetris and Mario Brothers. These two games became evergreen. In the 90s game industries started to become more stable and many revolutions were witnessed during this decade; artists, computer programmers, musicians, and producers cooperate in the creation of a game and the cost of production per title risen from thousands of dollars to the millions a decade later. Games became more realistic and offer more interaction. The 2000s became the pinnacle in terms of visual design, storytelling, game play and technical capabilities.
Presently digital games seem to have arrived at a crossroad as to how to define itself; either to remain for entertainment purposes or to assume new roles to stay competitive. CHALLENGES In further explaining, David et el. (2008) wrote that digital games came with controversy; the two major associations are violence and childhood obesity. In 1992 the controversy reaches its peaks where a game called Mortal Combat which offered realism and interactive violence hit the market. Players defeat opponents by ripping bodies apart. Critics began to accuse that the games industry had contributed to the tragedy of the Columbine school massacre. Craig A. Anderson and Karen E.
Dill (2000) counseled in their journal that violence in games served as training grounds for aggressive behaviors in players. Due to the nature of interactive and immersive experience in games, players might unconsciously adopt the personalities of the game characters. They suggest the influence of games is far more dangerous than movies or television. However David et al. (2008) stresses that other studies conducted by researchers show game playing also contributed in the reduction of crime rates. (p. 26). He further wrote that supporters of the game industry have counteracted these criticisms. According to the supporters these criticisms are mostly about pointing fingers and are largely politically motivated.
There are also critics that accuse obesity among the children is related to the game industry which assumes the child were spending too much time in front of the television. However these critics no longer hold much weight as there are also games now available that offer a rigorous physical work out. The introduction of Nintendo wii and Dance Revolution gaming system help to promote physical fitness. The game requires players to utilize body movements to interact with the game thus motivating people to stay healthy while entertaining themselves. FUTURE The game industry is aware of the pitfalls of game influences and thus is becoming proactive.
Improvements are made in game play which helps to promote health as well as creative thinking. Microsoft had invested billions of dollars in researching innovative ways of playing games without having the player sit passively in front of the television. The soon-to-be release Project Natal would enable the game to be played without using a controller. Instead, body movements would be captured by a camera attached to the game console to enable the player to interact with the game. Preventive measures are also being taken to reduce negative influences in games by the government and game publishers with the introduction of rating systems. This would enable parents to make suitable games choices for their young. David et al. 2008) noted that the game industry is the only sector where consumers can contribute in expanding its products. Tools are featured as part of the software so that the players can continue to create and expand on the game. These expanded versions created by players are called mod (short for modification). Counter-Strike is a mod version of a game still widely played until today. It originated from a game called Half -Life which was released in 1998. Now 10 years after its original release 10,0 000 people are still playing its mod version. However in order to play with the mod, a player must have the original game purchased and installed. This is a method of doing business which has expanded the life span of a company’s game products.
Furthermore these ‘modders’ (refer to the person who created the mod) will happily dedicate man hours supporting the game communities by offering technical help or developing new content without expecting any monetary returns. They are able to contribute their time and talent freely as they have developed an attachment to the product. This unique way that game companies conduct business is one of the most compelling feature that digital games can offer by way of example to other industry sectors. It is interesting to see how other sectors like education and businesses leverage communities to expand their own products. Lee Purcell (2010) believed that corporations such as Intel have begun to adapt the game industry’s business model. Intel believes that by turning a process into a game, the process itself becomes a learning opportunity.
Intel mainly deals in producing microprocessor chips for computers but now, in addition they are also actively sponsoring programmers and game designers, as well as introducing new technology that focuses on game software. Intel were confident that people are willing to spend much time online for servicing or to collaborate and invent digital contents, and thus utilize this enthusiasm as a tool to leverage sales in their hardware business. ‘The Intel $ 1000 000 Make Something Unreal’ contest is a competition sponsored by both Intel Inc. and Epic Games Inc. This competition has successfully attracted individuals to create games for Intel computers. Cooperation such as Intel believes that resources such as skills and expertise in creating games should not be limited to companies alone; communities must be supported to build their own games to share with others.
This I believe is a successful win win outcome. It enables Intel to expand their hardware market while simultaneously creating an appreciative and loyal consumer base. In an article by John Gaudiosi (2010), he discusses how a government agency such as NASA became interested in leveraging the popularity of digital games to gain support for their causes, promote technical careers in NASA, and also to educate the public on astronomy, engineering, and mathematics. NASA is currently looking forward to a new lunar exploration and is seeking to renew interest in space exploration. To achieve this multi-billion dollar ambition, NASA needs support from the US citizens.
They did this by commissioning a multiplayer game called Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond to garner interest from the public. The player would assume the role of an astronaut which in reality only a selected few would have chance to do so. The game offers similar experience of living in space; it also teaches players the reality of space travel. The game would have simulations such as research on the moon, repairing a life support system, and training using available resources to survive on the moon. The multiplayer format offers an exciting experience for the player to cooperate with another player to complete a mission. By sharing real content in a virtual world, NASA would be able to communicate with citizens and receive feedback.
By doing so NASA hopes to educate the citizen on creating awareness and support for their mission. This clearly reveals that digital games can become a tool for NASA to connect with the US citizen and even with the rest of the world. Education communities are also putting their efforts in using games as an alternative method of teaching. Mary Dziorny (n. d) wrote that digital games can be incorporated into classrooms. The learning process will be transformed into something fun and engaging. Games allow the freedom to experiment within a given environment. Students would be able to easily assimilate new information, learn new vocabulary, and receive a satisfactory reward at the successful completion of the game.
According to the author, Civilization is such a game that is packed with historical facts but also offers students the chance to play historical figures. This enables students to have fun while learning about world history. As for the business sector, Dziorny added that companies utilize games to educate customers on their products. This ranges from a simple how-to- use manual to explaining the complexities of a product’s engineering concept. David et al (2008) also noted that if digital games that are properly utilized in business sectors or offices can be used to train employees on the concept of managing supply chains or to simply educate employees on business principles.
Sun Micro System is a perfect example that utilizes digital games as a tool for staff training; with an almost 34000 employees with the majority working in remote headquarters, they commissioned a game company to develop a game that enables their employees to learn about new company technology, as well as the company’s vision and products. The result; Sun employees spent their free time playing these games while effectively communicating with each other even though they are scattered all over the world. (p. 107) Games were also used in the military as a recruitment tool. A game called ‘American Army’ teaches candidate the life of an army through a virtual world.
Soldiers were trained by exposing them to the realities of a war zone through a combat simulation. Dziony revealed that the funds spent on digital games to promote military recruitment amounted to a low 0. 25% from the total advertising budget yet had more impact compared to any other methods of advertising that the military has used before. Medical schools are using lab simulations to train doctors, dentist, and surgeons before they are allowed to treat on actual patients. An epidemic created in the simulation became an exercise for medical students to test the effectiveness of their diagnoses. David et el (2008) pointed out that digital games in medical schools help to reduce error rates to an acceptable low percentage. CONCLUSION
The digital games industry despite being a relative newcomer has managed to fit into today’s society. People are beginning to accept digital games as an important tool to aid them to become more efficient. Digital games have also proven to be a transformational as well as an innovative tool that can be adapted for the educational, military, medical, as well as in the business sector. The future of digital games is vast, it changes with the change of technology, it promotes integration between individuals and the society, and it presents opportunities that no other media can. Digital games encourage a two-way communication thus transforming how we do business, work, and socialize in our society. References Console game. 2010, June 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Console_game&oldid=370295741 Cnet News . com (2010). Microsoft’s Project Natal: What does it mean for game industry? Retrieved from http://news. cnet. com/8301-10797_3-10253892-235. html David Edery and Ethan Mollick (2009) . Changing the game how video games are transforming the future of business . Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: FT Press. Espen Aarseth (2001) . Computer Game Studies, Year One [ Adobe Digital Version]. Retrieved from http://www. mackenty. org/images/uploads/Editorial,_Game_Studies_0101. pdf Gaming computer. (2010, June 21).
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