The Profits of Gaming

Electronic gaming is a pretty young entertainment industry. Hence, like the all the entertainment industries that preceded it (rock music, comics, movies), it's misunderstood by many, vilified and considered as a complete waste of time. For the most part, I agree, it is a waste of time. But so's reading books or watching films. It doesn't mean you're productive if you're reading Harry Potter or watching Transformers. It doesn't mean you're cultured if you're reading Anna Karenina or watching Lawrence of Arabia. I know what I said are fighting words. But what I meant is that it's really up to the audience to harvest something out of what they're reading or watching.

So, with that said, you can also harvest something out of gaming as well, and here are some of the things that you can gain out of playing games:

Gaming won't teach you rocket science...not yet, at least. But you can certainly pick up and learn a variety of subjects from gaming.

The biggest example of this is the Aurora Toolset -a kit bundled with the game Neverwinter Nights that allows players to create their own adventures- which was used by various teaching institutions as a learning tool. University of Texas at Austin used the toolset to create a game entitled Rhetorical Peaks, which allows students in freshmen-level rhetoric and writing class to practice their rhetoric skills that they've learned throughout the semester. The Education Arcade, founded by MIT, also used the toolset to teach American History by allowing students to experience the daily social, political and econimic lives of Colonial America through their module Revolution.

Empire: Total War will you a bird's eye view on geography, economics and military.

But the history lessons doesn't stop with Revolution. In fact, the gaming industry is rich with games that have historical settings. Strategy games like Civilization and Total War will not only school you with historically important persons but will also give you a bird's eye view on economics, geography, geopolitics and politics. On how government works, how religion and war can affect society, and why an island nation can be more powerful than a large but landlocked nation. Games like Call of Duty and Company of Heroes will also take you back into WWII. While these games won't give you an in-depth knowledge of a text book, you'll definitely pick something up. Particularly, the arsenal that were used during that time.

I know it's hard to believe that you can gain a skill from electronic gaming. But, nowadays, there are a lot of trainer games available that will teach you a skill or improve what you already have.

Personal Trainer: Cooking will teach you how to cook various dishes.

The Nintendo DS, in particular, have a lot of trainer games in their catalog. That's why the handheld gaming device is so popular because of it. I've even seen a Polish couple, both were old enough to be my grandparents, playing trainers like My Word Coach so they could improve their vocabulary skills. Then there's also the ever popular Personal Trainer: Cooking that improved my cooking skills by a mile. Now I know how to cook a lot of Chinese dishes like Lemon Chicken, Fried Pork with Tomatoes, Chicken Kung Pao and Pork Szechuan.

This may come as a shock to a non-gamer but, yes, gaming can land you a career.

Cyber Athletes duking it out at the World Cyber Games tournament.

There are plenty of gamers out there who turned gaming into a source of income. The most common of all are the gamers turned in-house game testers, game bloggers/reviewers and game developers. But the ones that earns serious money are the Cyber Athletes. E-sports is growing and there are a lot of tournaments out there that offers prizes as large as $400,000. So many competitive gamers are lured in by the big money and earn a living out of joining tournaments. In addition, if they're good enough, they can also earn a sponsorship deal. The most notable Cyber Athlete that comes to mind is Johnathan Wendel, aka Fatal1ty, who had won many tournaments and earned his own line of gaming hardware.

Right now, in its majority, games are still limited to entertainment. While we can gain knowledge and skill through it, it still won't beat books and films in terms of education. But, I think, in the upcoming years, many will utilize its interactivity and create educational games that will make learning more fun.

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Kevin said...

I have to agree on this one.

I played Civilization III when I was 14, I think, and I got hooked so baaaaad I know every city in every goddamn tribe/civilization.

It's not just a plain "entertainment" game. It really needs strategy, enhances decision-making, even basic economics of some sort, trade deals.. everything.

Oh well, I was an addict back then. I bought the original CDs of Civ III Conquest, but lost the first CD (dunno where). Sad.

Skron said...

Civ III is probably the most complex and hardest amongst all the Civ series. The pollution feature, especially, made the game pretty hard. But, yeah, Civ games are addicting.