March 10th, 2011
I read an interesting article which suggests that playing violent games like Call of Duty can actually help people in the military have fewer war-related nightmares and sleep better. On the other less blood-soaked digital hand, Soldiers who don’t play those types of games found that their dreams were more violent and filled with feelings of helplessness. Jayne Gackenbach, who conducted the survey, believes violent games work as a “threat simulator,” which allows military personnel to deal with stress, as well as acting as a coping mechanism.
Thinking about this led me to ask myself, when videogames finally mature to the point where they’re not all about a man shooting a multitude of other men in the face/crouch/ass/thorax, will they finally be able to simulate the threats of people who sit at desks and stare at computers for a living? I ask because I’d also like to have less violent dreams – unless those dreams also include me being able to swing around like Spider-Man or fly like Superman or if that violence is being done to someone I don’t like – while simultaneously not feeling completely helpless.
I don’t know how far the medium is going to have to go as an art form to finally provide me, a person who happily sits at a desk and looks at a computer screen for most of his waking hours, with something I can actually relate to. Will there ever be a game that can act as an accurate threat simulator for my life? Other than the real world activities required to experience the existing killing simulators, like sitting in a chair and staring at a monitor or sitting in a chair and staring at the cousin of the monitor, the television, what can games offer me to prepare for my everyday life?
I don’t have a lot of conclusions to offer, just questions. Maybe, the videogame industry can get someone smart on this problem, like the master of simulating things in games, Will Wright. Simulate me something, Will.