Opinion: Give video games a chance



Matthew Bertovich

Matthew Bertovich

Matthew Bertovich is a junior psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

The term “video game” is interpreted by far too many as violence, laziness, solitude and a genuine waste of time. This could not be further from the truth. Games are more than that. Gamers deserve more respect than that.

Let’s start with the basics: What is a video game? It is certainly more than electronically manipulated images produced by a computer program on a television screen. It takes each and every form of entertainment and combines them to stimulate all your senses (including smell, if you play long enough). Visuals range from pixels to authentic-looking computer-generated imagery. Original scores serenade your ears, and iconic noises stick with you for life — I dare you to tell me you can’t hum the “Super Mario Bros.” theme. Games can generate laughter, tears, and everything in between — just like your favorite movie, song or TV show.

They’re immersive. Would you rather watch an actor rescue a princess while you try getting that annoying piece of popcorn unstuck from your teeth, or go save her yourself? There is a primary difference between your favorite movie and a video game: the controller. Whether it’s a wired piece of plastic, your cell phone or your body with the use of motion controls, these devices allow you to become a functioning part of the entertainment experience. Many games allow your decisions to directly affect the story’s outcome and, at the very least, let you further explore the worlds in which they take place. Movies, on the other hand, are linear stories told only from the director’s point of view. Video games require human interaction, which generates personal attachment to the game’s story and characters. Making the conscious decision to speak with a character, or ending the virtual life of some antagonist, is one step closer to simulating the real thing. We all try making authentic connections to the characters and themes within our favorite songs and movies, or whatever form of entertainment you prefer; video games come the closest to doing so.

They’re financially valuable. When it comes to video games, you get your money’s worth. Take a game like “Fallout 3”: $60 can get you 100-plus hours of entertainment. In contrast, a $30 Blu-ray gets you two to three (usually less than that) hours of the same scenes played in the same exact way, for as many times as you watch it. Whole worlds are born in video games, not just stories. Rich and expansive environments need to be explored for treasure and knowledge; this takes time.

They’re mentally valuable, too. In addition to telling a good story, video games teach lifelong lessons. Action and adventure games inspire a tenacious mindset; beating that high score or completing that level you’ve been stuck on is an extremely rewarding experience. Strategy games teach you the values of planning and coordination. Multiplayer games teach you the importance of effective communication and cooperation. Puzzle games exercise the mind with brain teasers and train your brain’s problem-solving skills.

From ages 8-80, there is a video game for you. There is an unbelievable amount of variety among video games, in terms of both story and gameplay. If you haven’t given them a chance, I insist that you do so.