[MUD-Dev] Gaming 'is good for you'

Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com
Wed Feb 12 11:40:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


For once a positive article on gaming:

  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2744449.stm

Excuse the formatting, the site is formatted similarly to a
newspaper and I didn't want to presumptiously re-paragraph.

<EdNote: Lightly touched>

Dan

8<-----------------------------------------------------------------

Gaming 'is good for you' - Friend and foe meet in Counter-Strike
By Mark Ward 
BBC News Online technology correspondent  
  
Computer games are good for you, say researchers who studied the
complex social interactions in the popular shoot-em-up
Counter-Strike.
 
To people who do not play computer games shoot-em-ups such as
Counter-Strike and Quake look very straightforward. You log on, you
shoot everything that moves with a frightening arsenal of weapons,
you log off.

But studies of players and teams are showing that these games are
much more complex than many people suspect.

They are revealing the deep community and complex culture
surrounding the games, as well as some of the reasons why people
find them appealing.

Group shot

Since Counter-Strike was released in March 1999, the online
modification, or mod, for the Half-Life computer game has been a
huge hit.

Its simple premise pits terrorists against counter-terrorists and
has become the most popular online multiplayer shoot-em-up.

But this uncomplicated premise masks a complex culture that social
scientists are uncovering.

It's not just about guns 

Professor Talmadge Wright and colleagues at Loyola University,
Chicago, have spent hours studying Counter-Strike culture by taking
part in games, interviewing players and reviewing text files of
in-game banter.

Prof Wright said that the research shows that Counter-Strike is
about much more than grim gunplay and racking up kills.

The strategy and tactics used by many regular players and teams, or
clans, often makes it seem like a game of chess, he said.

The importance of the social side of Counter-Strike was revealed in
the constant banter, in-jokes and insults that people exchanged
during play, said Prof Wright.

To outsiders this game talk can be impenetrable and lead people to
misinterpret what is going on.

Players tended to bring their offline culture with them when they
play, said Prof Wright.

It was often obvious when teenage boys were playing, he said,
because there was much more trashtalk and sexist or homophobic
insults flying around.

But, said Prof Wright, it was a mistake to think that this meant
that gamers were misanthropists.

"The most common emotion when people are playing is laughter," said
Prof Wright.

The only reason that people can get away with insulting friends and
foes was because they knew them so well, he said.

Collective play

Games such as Counter-Strike that rely on trust and co-operation
give rise to strong communities and good friendships, said Prof
Wright.

It gives people an option of actively participating in some kind of
fantasy role they could not do in real life
 
Professor Talmadge Wright, Loyola University
 
As a result players prefer to game with people they know rather than
strangers and they tend to tone down the bad language when those
they do not know well are present.

As well as good tactics, players also like moves and tricks that are
particularly elegant, well executed or exploit the quirks of the
game.

The names that people adopt for their online alter-egos show just
how playfully regulars regard the game, said Prof Wright.

The licence that the game gives people to experiment is part of its
huge attraction.

"It gives people an option of actively participating in some kind of
fantasy role they could not do in real life that allows them to play
with their own feelings," said Prof Wright.

"It is an area that's bricked off from everyday life that you can
enter and leave at will," he said. "It offers you a way to play with
things you may be scared of in a safe way where there are very few
consequences."

For this reason, and others, Prof Wright believes that gaming is
undoubtedly good for players.

Before now, he said, many studies of game playing have been skewed
by hidden agendas.

"There's a cultural motif that underlies the critiques that go on
around this," he said, "the idea of mindless activity is given short
shrift in culture where productivity is given the highest praise."

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