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 to
outthink every move your opponent makes. They provide the chance to show that you are the
best that ever was and ever will be. They provide the chance to take down any challenge just by
using your wits. But the best part of all is that the skills you gain by playing a game could be
used in real life. That is why by examining this subject anthropologically, a greater appreciation
can be earned.
Intro to Gaming 101
Now before we get into the anthropological study of gaming, specifically in computers, a
little background might be necessary to understand how these games work and what drives
people to play these games. This way any confusion will be eliminated. Just keep in mind, this
is just a general background and any specifics vary from game to game. So, class is now in
First up on the list is first person shooter, or fps for short. These video or computer
games are for those that want to get real close to the action (Bob Gill). Examples vary from the
Grand 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 you
would normally have in real life, just see what your character sees and know what your character
COD4 at Hilhi
Next, real time strategy enters the fray. In games like these, the objective is to gather
resources 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 Age
of Empires, Age of Mythology, and some of the Star Wars games. With games like these, a
person can really learn what goes into in keeping society running, and in some of them, a person
can learn a lot of valuable information about characters and civilizations as well. For instance, in
the Age of Mythology, there are back stories and myths about each key character and unit.
As everyone knows, games involving strategy are not limited to the computer. All sorts
of pastimes force people to use their minds to figure out their next move and be two-steps ahead
of their opponent. These range from board games, such as chess and checkers, to card games
that involve the standard fifty-two card deck, such as euchre, hearts, and poker. This also
includes those more specialized trading card games where the objective is simply get the best
cards and find the best way to win a match. Now each game has their own rules, formats, and
ways 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, these
are the type of games where people can portray the roles of different characters and live their
lives as they would (Gill). Now, like the first person shooters, these also take on the first person
perspective, but unlike them you can create your character, choose how you want to live, and
anything else to make the character more enjoyable. Basically, you are not limited to what the
game 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 of
some of characters on World of Warcraft.
Just like the strategy games, these too are not limited to the computer. Many of these
games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, and Rifts, have their own various character
models, stats, scenarios, quests, and rulebooks with all the information for each game. Here we
have people get together for a jam packed evening of mystical adventure all for the greater good
or 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 educational
and real world applications (Gill). If you want someone trained to fly a plane, operate a
submarine, or handle a space shuttle, you would use a system that can simulate all of the
conditions that will be expected and unexpected to prepare them before they get behind the
wheel. If you want to analyze what kind of impact a decision will make, then you would run a
simulation factoring all the variables in to account to see which decision will provide most
That concludes our introduction to the world of gaming. Each type of game has their
individual properties, programs, and rules. Despite their differences, they all have a purpose in
their actions. Whether it is for entertainment value, for a chance to escape and relax from the
real world, for the education of new skills and concepts, it is just one of the many ways
LAN vs. MMO: Which one to chose?
There are three ways to prove that you are better than everyone else in the computer
gaming world. One is get the highest score and make sure no one else beats it, or the other way
is go on a head to head challenge. The best way to do a head to head challenge is to set up LAN
or MMO connection with your personal computers.
Local Area Network (LAN) is a localized network where gamers can play against one
another to see which one is the best (Huelsmann). All you need are some computers hooked up
to the same network and make sure they all have the same software. Here no one else can enter
the server and join in unless they are on that network, which is good because all of those
involved 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 one
network, and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can join in (Huelsmann). Here
you can meet and play against people all over the world. There is almost no limit to whomever
you can meet by playing these online games, and already you know that you have something in
Another aspect of these MMO games is the fact groups, guilds, and clans keep forming in
these games (Huelsmann). Some of them can be structured like a nomadic band, while others
claim a server for their own operations as well as offer their members a chance to earn rank and
prestige (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 higher
ranked officials include recruiting new players and administrating the servers on their COD4
LAN and MMO both offer great chances to compete against your friends, but MMO only
offers 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 are
the weekly opportunities to meet and compete, and then there are the annual ones where you get
the chance to see what is new in the gaming world.
Gamers of the Magic the Gathering gather round for a weekly ritual of learning new
spells, 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 the
week where players from across the land gather around to play their favorite trading card, Magic
Here is how the event works. Players will receive three booster packs of cards, which are
a pack of fifteen seemingly random cards of a particular set. The set for this event is Shards of
Alara. 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 hand
the rest on to the next person down the line. The process continues so on and so on until all
cards have been selected for a total of forty-five individual cards at your disposal. The objective
is to use these cards and construct a forty card deck to battle against each other in a three round
tournament. This event is similar to when NFL teams draft players to add to their teams.
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 down
whatever gets thrown at them (Richardson). Let the Dungeons and Dragons begin!!! Here we
can complete a scenario that will be victorious in the long run, find weapons, level up the
character, and destroy the enemy. It is surprising to find out what you can accomplish in a
couple 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 can
hear what is new, what is hot, and hear what they will come out next (Knecht). It was at one of
these 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.
No matter the occasion, it is always a party with your friends and you got a good game to
pass 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 the
populace. From promoting violence to laziness, video games have been object of scrutiny for
Now there is a well-known argument over whether violent video games of this format
tend to drive children towards violent tendencies. The most famous example is Columbine’s
Eric Harris and Dylan Keebold, two gamers who went on a killing spree at Columbine High
School in Colorado. Now, as Bob Gill quotes, “there is no evidence that it [video games] caused
violence, but evidence does show it can affect it.” After analyzing the incident and some others
like it, investigators have discovered that there marksmanship was far superior when compared
to SWAT teams. Now, there are two ways to feel about this: scared and impressed. People
should feel scared about this happening somewhere else and that there is less likely of a chance
that they will miss you. Fear is the primary emotion for obvious reasons, but I personally cannot
help but feel impressed. These guys got better scores than those guys on SWAT. Think that is
the 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 get
your homework done or till your chores are done? I have heard that question from my parents
many times before. Is it our fault that they are so addictive? Is it our fault that they are so much
more entertaining than real life? Who wants to do work when there is a video game just calling
out to you?
The Art of Gaming
These pictures provided by wizards.com are examples of character portraits of some the
characters found in Dungeons and Dragons. Players inspired by their character in DND game
have revealed their hearts desire and passion for the game. This is just an example of how much
the arts are being affected by gaming.
Mods, short for modifications, are ways of altering the game. In some cases, it can be a
minor modification like the obtaining the Delorean from the Back to the Future and driving it
around on Grand Theft Auto III or changing the entire premise of the game like killing zombies
on 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, or
downloadable modification that can completely change the game entirely. It takes a real artist to
come up with these changes.
Gaming also offers the opportunity to branch off into other technology as a medium for
the arts. For instance, gamers constantly record their adventures on the PC, add some music, and
post their masterpiece on Youtube.com (Huelsmann). Seriously, these are some pretty good
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, performance
context, a virtual museum of vernacular culture, and a pop culture artifact whose double-voiced
aesthetic has given rise to diverse interpretive communities (Miller).” Do you know what that
means? Every video game that comes out with its own individual storyline can be considered a
literary work of art. The stuff that makes a legend a legend could occur in almost every video
game. Try putting that on the curriculum.
Video Games: The New Teachers
Remember earlier when I mentioned the strategy games and they have real world
applications. Now, there is this story where a little girl is attending a town meeting and the
mayor is announcing plans to change their methods in handling garbage. Well, this little girl has
a better idea than what was proposed by the mayor, and no one believed that she could have
come 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 the
best way to perform this action efficiently and effectively. In the end, I believe they dismissed
her plan, but they will be sorry once they realize she was right (Gill).
This is just one example of video games are becoming the new teachers. Schools already
have opened their classrooms to the computer lab to help teach their students. Games, such as
Reader 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 and
evolving their younger minds (Gill).
As mentioned earlier, simulations are the best tool in simulations. A step-up in
simulations is virtual reality. Virtual reality is immense full of simulations so much so that a
reality is generated by this advance piece of programming. Now with VR and is key
characteristics of interactivity, three-dimensionality, and real-time feedback, we can use it to
foster cultural awareness and to develop immense language skills in ways beyond our
imagination (O’Brien). By giving them the chance to experience firsthand in a controlled
setting, 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. Anything
can increase your knowledge and help you out later in life. All that is needed is a means to relate
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 strategic
thinking to technical expertise. Gaming offers a chance to socialize with others who share their
interests. Gaming is a means to inspire the arts. Gaming is also grants the opportunity to
educating people in ways that no one could ever conceive. The benefits of gaming have gone
beyond the purpose of entertaining, but instead offer a chance for people to better themselves.
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