On one of the mailing lists I’m following, there’s a whole slew of posts making fun of the idea you’d learn anything dangerous from games. You know, “If I see somebody with an exclamation mark over their head, they want me to do something!”.
The first one was funny, but as people keep continuing, it is not only getting old – it becomes obvious it’s forced.
So, as a counterpoint, let me talk about what I learned from the last game I played, Counter Strike: The Desert Eagle is a more potent hand gun than a Glock, but it has a slower rate of fire. In close combat, a shotgun is preferable over the M4. If you can handle the burst shot on the FAMAS and aim for the neck, it’s an extremely dangerous weapon. Crouching, and shooting in short bursts improves aim.
Oh, wait. We’re out to prove that games are disconnected from the real world? Well, in that case, you’ll be happy to hear that recoil in real guns is nothing like recoil in video games.
Seriously, though – while I’ve enjoyed the facetious posts, each game teaches something. Playing is about learning. If games have no effect on us, why do we go out of our way to claim they’re art? Because art certainly affects people. (Well, that’s a topic for another post)
Maybe it’s time we realized that we are teaching, with each and every game. It’s not limited to shooters, either. You could certainly make the at least somewhat credible case that e.g. WoW teaches xenophobia – all not of your allegiance must be slain. Any old RTS ==> armed conflict is a perfect way to solve conflict.
But for most people, we’re teaching hand-eye coordination, or game mechanics, and that’s it. The point is, you need to be able to understand the back story is just a story, a backdrop.
But what if you’re too young to understand that? Well, maybe this self-imposed rating system is a good idea after all, don’t you think?