Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Video Games vs. Real Life

One of David Perry's students made a video disclosing his addiction to the audience at the TED talks. Not to a narcotic, but to the virtual reality of video games. With the improvements in technology and 3D imaging, games resemble more and more the real world and may one day become better than reality. Does this mean our society is doomed to waste away in front of a screen, cut off from reality, interested only in the game that is more exciting and interesting than the world in which we live? 

I think not. Most people, I believe, can maintain the line between reality and virtual reality. Video games will never be able to convey anything more than movies. Emotion, maybe, a connection to the characters, perhaps, but neither motion pictures nor video games can illustrate various senses. Smell, taste, touch beyond the vibration of a controller. All of our senses are necessary to fully convey a reality. In a war game, although in reality one would be in agony if hit by a bullet, in virtual reality there is only a mild vibration. In video games there is a reset button. Not so in reality, and I believe that most people recognize the ever thinning, but never breaking line between the two worlds. 

He discusses life altering experiences in virtual space. Who has not had a life lesson or life changing experience from the cinema. Many movies, and video games, are designed with a story line and characters to whom you can relate, connect with, and even mourn with. But a life changing experience is but an idea, a mindset. Seeing something unfold before you on screen can cause you to consider differently the world in which we live, but that does not mean that they are better than the real world. 

They are definitely part of the world, but the characters and events that take place in virtual space are entirely fictional. And anyone who cannot distinguish between fiction and nonfiction is the same person who believes that he is charging the beach at Normandy when in the real world he is pushing buttons and pulling triggers in accordance with the image on his TV screen.

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