What We Got Wrong About Gaming

by | Mar 14, 2023 | Design, remote work

Many are unaware of this, but the first game to ever be classified as a video game was created in 1958. The game was titled Tennis for Two, and the game was exactly how it sounds — a game of tennis where two people could compete against each other. Fast forward to 2022, and we saw the release of Elden Ring, an action role-playing game where you freely explore several unique locations, battle strong monsters, and customize your character however you see fit. Gaming has changed immensely over the years, and it continues to adapt to new technology currently being developed today. However, this has not come without a moral panic.

According to Simply Psychology, a moral panic is a situation in where media reporting has created a folk devil of a particular social group, precipitating a public demand of the authorities to do something about it. In other words, if something is being blamed as the source of various crimes or behaviors, this is considered a moral panic. Gaming has been the topic of moral panic for years, but as it turns out, gaming comes with several benefits that we sometimes fail to realize.

How Gaming Went From Entertaining to Controversial

Video games were very basic when the medium was taking off. While gaming has technically existed since the 50s, gaming truly began to gain ground in the 70s with the release of the arcade game, Pong. Kids began saving their quarters for the arcade so they could compete against their friends in several different games, such as Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Galaxian. Around this time, Atari was also making it possible for video games to be played at home — and even with the release of simplistic games such as Bowling and Basic Math, Atari found itself in controversy in the early 80s.

In 1982, a game titled Custer’s Revenge was released for the Atari 2600 console, and this game is considered one of the worst games ever made. The game’s objective was to make it across the screen while dodging arrows to sexually assault a woman who was tied up. This is the earliest moment of a video game causing controversy, and stores quickly pulled the game from shelves to avoid backlash.

The Effect of Industry and Cultural Changes

While companies such as Nintendo, Sega, and Sony helped revive and expand the gaming industry in the 80s and 90s, controversy still frequently arose during this time. One example of gaming controversy during this period was after the shooting at Columbine High School. In 1999, two students walked into Columbine High School and opened fire, killing 13 and injuring more than 20 others. While many still debate their motive, one stood out among others: The shooters were fans of first-person shooter games such as Doom, Postal, and Quake. Therefore, many people quickly claimed that violent video games teach players how to kill and that there are no repercussions in the real world for killing. Even when games are rated appropriately to keep them out of the hands of minors, people find ways to blame them for catastrophic occurrences.

Unfortunately, video games are an easy target, and any time a shooting occurs, a moral panic around gaming ensues. People claim video games are mindless, useless, or non-educational. While senseless violence is a concern, it must be resolved with appropriate evidence, which some critics are unable to provide. While a game may release from time to time that fits these descriptions, countless other games can provide unique benefits to their players.

How Gaming Can Be Positive — Really

Whether you’re a lifelong gamer or someone who’s never held a controller in your life, there are several skills gaming can teach you.

If you’re looking to get into the marketing field, having experience with video games is a plus. Many employers today hire people with coding skills and problem-solving abilities, and video games can do this. Certain games such as The Legend of Zelda require you to solve puzzles and riddles to proceed or gain an advantage, and the ability to do this can translate to your job skills.

We all know people who struggle socially. Whether it’s due to anxiety or not, video games are a great tool for improving social skills. According to Steven Johnson, gamers can become “more social, more confident, and more comfortable solving problems creatively.” Even if the game itself is simple or linear, games can provide an opportunity for teamwork, allowing players to communicate with each other on how to win the game. By working together well in a game, you can learn to collaborate with others in real life.

Other Skills Gaming Can Improve

Other skills you can enhance through gaming are hand-eye coordination, improved motor coordination, decision-making skills, and focus. With experience, you can memorize what buttons are on your controller, allowing you to keep your focus on your screen. Also, many games in today’s world require you to make decisions, whether they’re big or small. Video games such as Mass Effect require you to make very difficult decisions at certain points, and players must think about many aspects of the situation before making a call.

We learn from our mistakes, and if we make a poor decision in a game, we learn to avoid making that decision again. All of these skills can translate well to a variety of jobs, including grant writers, carpenters, and, believe it or not, criminal investigators.

Controversy puts gaming in a bad light, and because of this, many still believe gaming is bad. Fortunately, though, many people who struggle socially have found solace in video games. Others have been able to apply the positive critical thinking skills they’ve learned from gaming to other aspects of their lives.

What We Can Learn From Gaming

Gaming may not be the hobby for you, and that’s ok. However, everyone can learn from gaming as a whole and how it can affect our world today. There’s no shame in calling yourself a gamer. If anything, you have a unique skill set that lends itself well to the world as we know it.

Many gamers have been able to begin successful careers, including in the writing field. At Better Content Matters, we offer a wide variety of writing services, and we use the skills we learned playing games to do it. Contact our team today for more information.

William Baynes

William Baynes

William Baynes is a writer and administrator at BCM, and he's very passionate about mental health. If he's not working, he's probably playing video games or trying to solve that jigsaw puzzle he's been stuck on for the past week.