faster, better, smarter

Are Computer Games evolving as their own medium, a new form of art and even as tool? Strong arguments for the autonomy of games were deliverd by a class at FU Berlin, Computer Games and Media Theory, that introduced the emerging field of Game Studies to me.

Economically, the production of computer games generates a much larger impact than the production of film for several years already. But gaming itself was still regarded as a waste of time. This does change a lot nowadays, as games get a tool in business processes i.e. you can earn money with it i.e. it suddenly turns out to be something very sensible to do. (best example: SecondLife). Plus, serious gaming tries to make use of our desire to play.

Beside these purely economic interests there is more and more evidence that gaming makes you think and gives your brain a good training for your everyday life as well as for some specialised tasks: fine motor skills for surgeons, faster reactions for sports and military, knowledge of economic correlations, just to mention some ideas. While trying to master a game, looking for workarounds – yes, cheating – even amplyfies our creative efforts and must be regarded as an approach of its own to games. As Reto Wettach (one of my professors at FH Potsdam) and Ralf Grauel mention in their talk at Typo Berlin 2006, a game offers a unique combination of joy and mental activity, offering ideal possibilities for the growth of neurons in our brain. They even come to the conclusion that we are on the way from the achievment- towards a play-oriented society: Being not only faster and better in a playful competition, but finally winning by being smarter!

Moreover, it seems to me to be a small proof for my opinion that our society is judging about life-styles, activities and projects way to fast and with little regard for other than fast-paying economic factors. The importance of games was evident to Schiller already (in his Aesthetical Education of Man) and we are, however, still far form his ideas today

[Man] is only fully man where he plays

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