Increasingly, however, this restrictive and short sighted vision of gaming is being challenged. Governmental analysts are beginning to confirm something that, deep down inside our heart of hearts, we've always known; gaming makes us better people. This assertion is two fold - on the one hand, there is the exciting prospect that gaming physically and mentally trains us for certain situations. A couple of weeks ago, The Onion jokingly suggested that games such as Gears of War and Fallout 3 are training our children to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
I know I've learned that surreptitiously slipping a live grenade into the pockets of unsuspecting bandits can be a laugh riot, and iguana bits are no substitute for vast amounts of synthetic Nuka-Cola. Today wired.co.uk (my faithful friend) published an article by Noah Schachtman on how American analysts are using videogames to weed out bias in their operatives.
I have to admit there is a place in my gut which leaps at the thought that playing Black Ops might make me into a one man killing machine, a real life 007; utilising my twitch reactions to mow down a camp-full of bogies in seconds and then zip lining into my chalet in Switzerland with my sultry femme fatale; Olga. In actuality I think the only thing I'll end up with is bad eyesight, a bit of a belly and the thumbs of a 65 year old.The agency is looking to axe everything from "anchoring bias" (relying too much on a single piece of evidence) to "confirmation bias" (only accepting facts that back up your pre-made case) to "fundamental attribution error" (attributing too much in an incident to personality, instead of circumstance).
On the other hand, there is the implementation of gaming in the effort to stimulate real social change. On a more Alternative Reality Gaming slant; Jane McGonigal's book "Reality is Broken: Why Games make us Better and how they can Change the World" focuses on the attempts at using games to raise awareness and encourage "off the wall" thinking when it comes to national and international social problems. McGonigal states that reality is broken because games act as "happiness hacks" and so are more productive at producing happiness than real life situations. This is why gaming is so often used as an escapist pastime.