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Benefits of Gaming

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I'm getting very frustrated over Mission Elevator, which I just can't complete, and decided to write this to make it up to Mr Creosote, whom I promised a review of the damn game.

Don't know how old y'all are, but I suspect mid- to late 20s, which makes you old enough to have been witness to a strange phenomenon: Gamer Denial Syndrom. Ever noticed that when you ask (IT) colleagues or fellow students if they're into games, you invariably get a quick glance and an unsteady 'no', after which they change the subject? Happens to me a lot.

Statistics say that most of them are lying. Nearly 100% of all post-80s professional coders/designers/etc. were introduced to computing via gaming. I for one thing don't remember any kids running around in 'MS Works = k-rad' or 'Lords of VisiCalc' t-shirts, unlike Nintendo and Sega characters, or Warcraft team logos, etc.

They're lying 'cause they know, or instinctively feel, that avowing gamer status will be a real hurdle on their way to The Top, which they will have to start thinking of when they hit 30/35, unless they want to be on shitty salaries forever. Managers distrust anyone with more technical knowledge than they have, i.e. everyone. Gamers usually have quite a bit of that, at least those who grew up with *86s and 1st-generation Pentium machines do.

It ain't fair, that. Because even when using management's own preferred way of argumenting ("where da money?"), one can easily come up with a few juicy facts:

- gaming was instrumental in bringing computers into homes everwhere, which resulted in a selling craze top management everywhere still fondly remembers;

- gaming still is a multi-billion bucks industry;

- gaming is often the first reason given by customers for upgrading their hardware, which the average Joe becomes more and more loathe to do - 2.6gHz/512mb machine just to run an O/S + office suite and visit pr0n sites? Hello?;

- gaming is their most reliable baby-sitter, and has probably taught their children more than they ever bothered to pass on to them themselves (even as an adult, I've learned truckloads of useful stuff from adventure/strategy/simulation games - thanks to Life & Death I was able to remove my boss's appendix - sorry, daydreaming);

- gaming incites "Community Building", generates "User Excitement" and "Brand Identification", which is the stuff that marketing's dreams are made of. Seen any PowerPoint fan groups lately? Or people dressing up as Mr Clippy, queuing up for the next Office release? Virgin is still selling Baldur's Gate, Lost Eden, and several other titles that are ancient by today's software market's standards.

- the gaming audience can only increase. People are getting more and more sedentary all the time, have a lot of free time, and (representing a huge demographic change in itself) tomorrow's older and/or retired people will all have grown up with video games. Think of it: will any of you become the kind of people your grandparents are/were? Or even your parents? I don't think so. Of course you won't be exactly in the same mindset as you are now, but you'll sure as hell enjoy any tech developments the future will bring, whether it's for entertainment or to make your lives easier.

Unfortunately, the current game development trend is modelled after the greater entertainment industry's cloning policy, which insists on bringing you more of the same in a slightly different package. "Inspired" look-alikes of successful games have been there from the start, of course, just as there were suddenly many identically-clad hair-shaking bands after the Beatles made it (no, I don't actually remember that, I'm not *that* old!), but the clones didn't drown out the other contenders, and various currents continued to flow in parallel to the mainstream.

Anyway, and coming to the point, I think gamers have an edge over the strictly business kind of type, due to their acquired sense of urgency in recognising and reacting to troublesome situations, and their ability to find work-around solutions to unconventional problems, including everything bundled under the Murphy's Law heading.

And they're much nicer people to work with. I've never found a non-gaming colleague who was willing to help me out over that bit in The Bermuda Syndrome where Jack is swimming between the killer weeds and can't seem to find an issue.

ardell (May 20th, 2005)

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