Many types of entertainment exist as awards to relax. Some examples are playing sports, drawing and video games, and each of them have a share of stereotypes, especially video games. Some stereotypes about video games are “Gamers are young males,” “Gamers are lazy,” “Gamers are socially akward” (Lee). These are some of the common myths about gamers that are not necessarily true (Lee). This paper will focus on some of the stereotypes that people believe about gamers and follow up with how video games have been beneficial to people through literature, history and math, then finally finish with how video games relieve stress.
In the early 1980s, games for the video game console Atari 2600 began to come into the home (Boyd). Sales began to increase due to gamers being able to bring video games into their living room and not just playing games at the arcade (Boyd).
By 1983, the Atari 2600 developed many video games for the gamer to play at home. The problem was most of the games were cheap and “dull” (Boyd). The games were not interesting and on top of that, gamers began to play more PC games that developed at this point. (Boyd). E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the video game on Atari 2600, brought the video game crash even more due to its poor gameplay (Boyd). It was a rushed product due to the developers having to meet an unrealistic deadline (Boyd).
Howard Scott Warshaw, a coder and developer, was the creator of E.T. the video game (Boyd). When he got the go ahead from Steven Spielberg to create a game from his movie E.T., Warshaw got to work (Boyd). Warshaw only had 5 weeks to complete the game in order to be out for Christmas (Boyd). Warshaw designed and coded the game in time for Christmas (Boyd). Atari shipped four million games to retailers and after Christmas retailers returned three-and-a-half million to the Atari company (Boyd). After that, there were very little video game sales for two years (Boyd).
The history behind the rise and fall and eventual rebirth of video games shows how the gamer still wanted to play game; they just want something new that is interesting. Once the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came into the United States, gamers started to pick back up on gaming.
Developers were still growing their skills when it came to video games. For example, Shigeru Miyamoto was the Japanese game developer who created Super Mario Bros. (“Shigeru Miyamoto Biography”). In Japan, games were still growing, and Nintendo wanted to bring to the U.S. the games that were a hit in Japan (Marrujo).
There, however, was the problem of the U.S. retailers not wanting anything to do with video games (Boyd). Nintendo had to come up with a creative way to advertise the NES as and sell the system without U.S. retailers and customers turning it down (Marrujo). Once Nintendo introduced the “Robotic Operating Buddy” (R.O.B.) as a toy, they were able to able to bring video games back into the U.S. market (Marrujo). This is what caused parents to see video games from the NES on as a toy. Due to the success of the NES, it followed that more adults would associate the NES, and video games in general, with being a toy (Marrujo).
Video games, just like books, have different types of genres. Some examples of genres are platformers, educational, and role-playing games (RPG). A platformer game is a genre of video games that require the player to traverse to different platforms and stages to complete the game. Super Mario Bros. is a platformer game, although at the time of release Nintendo labeled it an action game (Super Mario Bros., instruction manual). Role playing games (RPGs) is a genre of games where you are going through a game with one or more characters to completion. An example of a role-playing game is Suikoden (game case). Educational games are games that serve as learning tools for all ages (“10 Video Game Genres Defined”). Prodigy is an example of an educational game that focuses on teaching math to children grades one through eight (“Prodigy Math Game – Learn Math for Free. Forever.”).
Although there are negative stereotypes about gamers, Hannah Nichols shows that video games have actual benefits in handling stress. Nichols discusses a literature review, and she notes that Marc Palaus, one of the authors of the review argues that “video games have sometimes been praised or demonized, often without real data backing up those claims. Moreover, gaming is a popular activity[,] so everyone seems to have strong opinions on the topic” (Nichols). From the research Nichols presents, different scientists have come to realize that playing video games is not as bad as it seems (Nichols). In fact, Nichols finds out video games improve several types of attention (Nichols). In the article, Nichols specifically finds that video games improve areas of the brain in a gamer that play a role in how he or she improves attention span (Nichols). The studies also show gamers are able to “stay focused on demanding tasks” better than non-gamers (Nichols).
Different studies have shown that video games are a great way to relieve stress. Playing as a character in a game helps relieve stress. It takes their focus into the world of the video game they are playing (Dube). Christopher J. Ferguson conducted a 2010 study at Texas A&M University that showed that both men and women who play violent video games long-term seem to be able to adopt mental skills to handle stress, become less depressed and get less hostile during stressful tasks (Dube).
Video games can also introduce you to different types of cultures. Suikoden, for example, is a Japanese role-playing game that is based on Chinese literature, specifically a classical novel called Water Margin (“Suikoden”). According to Bookrags, “Water Margin by Shi Nai’an details the rise and fall of a group of bandits during the time of the Song Dynasty in China” (“Water Margin Summary and Study Guide”). They add that “the themes addressed in this novel are the abuse of power by officials, the unjust punishment of the loyal and the power of chivalry and loyalty” (“Water Margin Summary and Study Guide”).
In Suikoden, the Scarlet Moon Empire uses their power to abuse their citizens in order to obtain the Soul Eater Rune, because it grants tremendous power to the wielder (Suikoden). Also, the loyalty between the protagonist and his attendant, Gremio, and the protagonist’s father, Teo, to the Scarlet Moon Empire is a major recurring theme in the game (Suikoden). The protagonist is the leader of the Liberation Army who are liberating themselves from the Scarlet Moon Empire, and he and his father’s loyalties lead them to fight against each other (Suikoden). Both the game and novel possess 108 “Stars of Destiny,” the protagonists’ companions in their respective armies (“Water Margin Summary and Study Guide”; Suikoden).
Another example of a role-playing game that introduces another culture is Eternal Sonata, a fictional biography of Frederic Chopin. Alice Liang, a reviewer for 1up.com, describes the game as “a fictional world dreamed by Chopin during his last hours that is influenced by Chopin’s life and music, and in which he himself is a playable character” (Liang). Eternal Sonata gives the player pieces of Chopin’s music throughout the game (Eternal Sonata). The characters’ names and some of the towns in the game refer to musical terminology. For instance, the name Allegretto, one of the playable characters, is also a musical term for “a tempo that is played quick” (“allegretto”).
Suikoden’s type of gameplay influenced the gameplay in Prodigy. Prodigy uses role-playing game elements that teach math as a means of gameplay. The developer for Prodigy, SMARTeacher, advertises that “with a diagnostic test to place students in the correct grade, embedded assessments, and automatic differentiation, Prodigy ensures that each one of your students succeed at their own pace” (“Prodigy Math Game – Learn Math for Free. Forever.”). Prodigy lets the player create an avatar in the game and set him or her off on a journey fighting monsters the player can defeat by solving different math problems (Prodigy). In order to attack a monster, the player has different, unlock-able magic skills. In order to activate those skills, the player must solve a math problem. If the player answers correctly, the attack registers as a hit towards the monster. If the player answers wrong, the attack will miss the monster. The player is also able to play with other players and battle each other by competitively solving problems (Prodigy). Not only do players learn math, they are also able to interact with other children and “increase their social skills” (“Prodigy Math Game – Learn Math for Free. Forever.”). Prodigy keeps the child/gamer focused on math and gives the child a reason to keep trying until he or she better understand the problems presented.
Teachers present Prodigy to their students, so there is a level of adult supervision. The teacher is able to look at every child’s personal progress in his or her class (“Prodigy Math Game – Learn Math for Free. Forever.”). The teacher is also able to adjust the kind of problems the child needs to do more of if the teacher feels the child is still lacking in that area (“Prodigy Math Game – Learn Math for Free. Forever.”). Parents are also able to interact with their child in Prodigy. The parent can see how their child is progressing in his or her math work as well as set goals for the child to motivate him or her to get more problems right in a row (“Prodigy Math Game – Learn Math for Free. Forever.”). Doing so opens rewards and gifts in the game that the child can have for his or her avatar, such as clothes and special items (Prodigy). It is a great tool to keep the teacher and parent on the same page and have the child get support from school and home. According to SMARTeacher, one teacher was able to help her student increase her standardized test scores by 20% with the help of Prodigy (Nisbet). Prodigy arguably shows that games can be acceptable to adults, if adults believe it can help.
Although the events after the crash of 1983 led to a viewpoint that video games are toys, they can be useful in relieving stress, introducing cultures and providing education. The outlook of video games being just a children’s toy that children put away as they grow up is not true. Video games have shown they increase grades, improve the ability to handle demanding tasks and appreciate fine arts and literature. Video games have shown that they are equal to all other forms of entertainment for adults.
- “The American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Allegretto.” American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Allegretto, 5th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=allegretto.
- “Can Video Games Relieve Stress?” Mellowed, 9 Mar. 2019, https://www.mellowed.com/can-video-games-relieve-stress/. Accessed 10 May 2019.
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- Eternal Sanota. Xbox 360 version. Namco Bandai, 2007
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- Liang, Alice. “Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360).” 1up.Com, 16 Mar. 2007, https://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3158051. Accessed 10 May 2019.
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- Marrujo, Robert. “The History of NES.” Nintendojo.com, 23 Apr. 2014, https://www.nintendojo.com/features/the-history-of-nes. Accessed 10 May 2019.
- Nichols, Hannah. “How Video Games Affect the Brain.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 10 July 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318345.php. Accessed 5 May 2019. Prodigy. Browser and mobile versions. SMARTeacher Inc., 2012.
- Railton, David. “Can Playing ‘Shoot-Em-up’ Style Video Games Boost Cognition?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 26 Dec. 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320391.php. Accessed 5 May 2019.
- Scott, Elizabeth. “How Video Games Can Be Used for Stress Relief.” Verywell Mind, Verywellmind, 20 Mar. 2019, https://www.verywellmind.com/how-video-games-relieve-stress-4110349. Accessed 5 May 2019.
- Suikoden. PlayStation version. Konami, 1996.
- Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo, 1985.
- Swaby, Gary A. “Should Adult Gamers Feel Ashamed of Themselves?” The Koalition, 6 Oct.2014, https://thekoalition.com/2014/grown-man-gamers-ashamed. Accessed 5 May 2019.
- Vince, et al. “Ultimate List of Different Types of Video Games | 49 Genres & Subcategories.” ID Tech, https://www.idtech.com/blog/different-types-of-video-game-genres. Accessed 5 May 2019.
- “Water Margin Summary & Strategy Guide.” Bookrags, BookRags Inc., https://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-water-margin/#gsc.tab=0. Accessed 10 May 2019.