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timber maniac

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Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?

The video game I credit is a role playing game called Final Fantasy 7.

The conflict of the game begins immediately. As you play the story unfolds and you learn of a corporation that is extracting 'Mako Energy' from the planet by means of giant reactors. This 'Mako Energy' is then converted into electricity that is used in the city surrounding the reactors. It is a lucrative business. As a player, you begin the game with your character being directly involved in a vigilante terrorist group; a group whose goal is to destroy these 'Mako Reactors'.
Though the character you play cares little for the goals of his group (your character's main interest is making money), you continue to be involved in these vigilante missions. As time progresses in the game (meaning you complete more story-line) your character learns that 'Mako Energy' is found in all of the creatures and plants that inhabit the game's world. When a life ends this 'Mako Energy' flows back into the planet. It is then recycled by the planet and used to create new life. You understand that the extraction of 'Mako Energy' will result in the disabling of the planet's ability to support new life, and it also means that the planet is itself a living thing (as a player you can visit a place in the game and hear the planet itself making painful noises). You learn that the corporation's president is aware of these facts and is yet still planning to progress with the extraction of 'Mako Energy'.

How did this challenge my perspective?

Growing up I had been exposed to many different ideas of accountability but only at the age of 12, with the help of this compelling story, did I seriously contemplate my role in society. I wondered what kind of character I was, and what kind of character I would like to be. The story made it clear that those who act from a source of greed were ostracized from a moral society. I decided that indifference towards suffering cannot be hidden and that greed will never be satisfied.

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  • Jan 27 2012: I have a couple stories about this. I have been a gamer since there were video games (literally). So my first creative works were to design (on paper) videogames at a time when it wasn't plausible for an individual to make one.

    I was playing The Sims 3. For those who don't know what the game is, The Sims series puts you in control of a number of people who live virtual lives with much of the same banality and aspiration that real people do. They have jobs, dreams, etc. and your directing their actions (often against their impulses) is what has them get what they actually want out of life.

    I had a Sim who I wanted to be a novelist (which is something I've wanted at various times in my own life), but in the game, the Sim-- almost regardless of what activity she had just completed-- would go over to the computer, sit down and play videogames. I would become angrily frustrated-- I kept having to click on the Sim and order her to "Write novel". Again and again. And then I had that "a-haaa" moment-- where I realized that I, sitting in my chair, playing the Sims, was doing exactly the same thing the Sim was doing-- avoiding working on my novel to play video games. I have not played the Sims since.
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      Jan 27 2012: What a great AHA moment.....I loved your experience with the Sim game Fletcher. Thank you for sharing.

      "Things do not happen. Things are made to happen" John F. Kennedy
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      Jan 27 2012: Fantastic story!
    • Jan 27 2012: Very apropos...
    • Jan 27 2012: That is an awesome story, Fletcher. It really was an a-ha moment. I'll watch with interest for your first novel. :)
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      Jan 28 2012: This is exactly why I am incapable of playing The Sims. I always make only one sim, and I make him as similar to myself as possible. And I would watch this Me learn how to paint, watch him learn how to grow nice vegetables, watch him make whoopee and get married, and I would sit there and think, "Shit, I can do that too. Instead of spending a couple of hours watching my sim rank up in Guitar, I could actually learn a little guitar."

      So for making you get up off your bum and actually make something of yourself, I agree that The Sims is an excellent game.
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        Jan 28 2012: When I play the Sims 2 game I tend to create the house and fill it with characters that I made look like they were from my favorite japanese comics (usually Naruto characters). Then I interact them the way I would have wanted to see them in the comics I read. This never lasts long and I get bored easily, but I love to create the house and do the floor planning.
  • Jan 27 2012: There are many games that have made me think about how I want to live my life. The one that springs to mind is Shadow of the Colossus. There wasn't an intricate story about good and evil. There wasn't a cast of characters brought together to fight an abominable evil. You weren't trying to save the world. In fact, you almost had no clue what it was that you were supposed to be doing. All you know is that there's a boy that's trying to save a girl and, in order to do so, must kill 16 colossi.

    Why are you doing this? Who is this girl? Who is this boy? Who is this disembodied voice that speaks to you? These colossi haven't done anything to you. And yet you are supposed to kill them and the male character deteriorates with each one he kills.

    The land is barren with just a few critters and birds to break the occasional silence. Most of the time, your horse is the only constant companion following you into battle time and time again. Navigating this unknown world presents the players with another challenge as paths diverge into valleys and forests and mountains stay in your way.

    Each colossus is a struggle with each more difficult to fight than the last. Some colossi demand a few minutes of observation and analysis before you can even begin to understand how to battle against it. After each battle, you are reminded of the price the protagonist must pay.

    The game made me think about life in general and how people's actions might not be the best judge of their character. Things in life are almost never black and white, good or evil. Sometimes people are pushed to make hard choices that may clash with society and its norms. What's important is to know who you are and be steadfast in your pursuit of whatever it is that you're chasing. Sometimes things are easy. Other times, situations require time for observation and analysis. Sometimes, it's best to not do anything at all.

    The game taught me about the gray, about things bigger than I am, and to just live my own life.
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      Jan 27 2012: Wow thankyou for that response!
    • Jan 28 2012: I have deep respect for this game. @Mike, you've put in words beautifully the subtleties I've felt while playing it.
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      Jan 28 2012: SoC was breathtakingly beautiful. Awesome pick.
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    Jan 27 2012: Planescape: Torment. It is unique. Unlike any story ever told by interactive electronic means. It made me recreate myself... My life. Changed it entirely in a sense.

    The game was about losing ones self, and finding it again. About your nature. About KNOWING yourself and your self.

    It is wonderful, rich in thoughts and story in an insanely original environment.

    Of course the game made little money. It is probably not for everyone and only a few people can fully understand it...
    • Jan 27 2012: This is my number 2 behind Baldur's gate. It's the example I hold up before people when when they say games are mindless drivel and violence (they're thinking of unreal tournament or something).

      I say "you like books don't you? Stories? Enjoy going to the movies everyone once in a while? This really is no different." It's a well written deep and emotional story with both sadness and laugh out loud moments. The only real difference is, you control how the little man moves around.

      A truly great game that got far far less credit than it deserved, both as a game and as a story and piece of art.
    • Jan 27 2012: I am replaying it now :D ...

      "what can change the nature of a man" :D

      good times :D
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      Jan 28 2012: I started replying PST a few days ago, with the high-res mods and stuff to make it super awesome!

      www.gog.com/en/news/mod_spotlight_planescape_torment_mods_guide/
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    Jan 25 2012: A game that really affected me was a tiny five minute indie game called Passage (http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/passage/). It taught me a lot about how I deal with loss.
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      Jan 26 2012: What lessons did you learn about loss from Passage?
      • Jan 27 2012: Explaining Passage is a little bit like trying to retell a stand-up bit or explaining emotions evoked from music. Trust me, it's best to go at it in the dark - it's even shorter to play than a TED video.
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          Jan 27 2012: Wow I see what you mean. I haven't seen a game like that before. How interesting that visual is of all the previous levels.
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        Jan 28 2012: When my in-game wife died, I found myself physically unable to keep going. I'd try to walk onwards, but I just kept coming back to her gravestone. I'd just stand there so we could be buried side by side.
    • Jan 27 2012: Thank you for mentioning this game... I'd never played until I read this article... I have to say it is an extremely interesting game. The subtle way that they introduce you to ideas like: wasting life searching for money. It actually even made me think "Do I want to spend this whole time a lone?"

      Very interesting game.
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        Jan 28 2012: Really? I don't get it. I just seemed to be walking forward forever and then I died!
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      Jan 27 2012: Thanks for bringing this game to my attention. Loved it. We need more games like these. Bite-sized (like a TED talk) & with a message.
    • Jan 27 2012: Wow...what an amazing game. Kudos to the creators...awesome metaphor
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    Feb 2 2012: Eve online.

    It has the most complex economics, strategy and tactics in any MMO I know of.

    As 20 something I learned a lot about trade manipulations, unrestricted human behavior, power abuse, need for making an impact on people and the world (meaningfulness).

    It has taught me much:
    - It has simulated times of war to me.
    - Shown me how war profiteers are making money, how they manipulate and create conflicts.
    - How little an individual is worth.
    - How greed motivates people.
    - Not to be naive.
    - That most people are generous and cooperative.
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    Jan 28 2012: An old gem called Millennia: Altered Destinies. The player is in charge of four alien races, making decisions that affects how they evolve.

    The interesting part is that whenever one makes a decision perfectly logical and probably the best from a human perspective, it may not work with all of them. One race is that of fish-like creatures who value cooperation, and develop best in a democracy. Another one are reptilian warriors who require a military dictatorship not to fall into anarchy. Then there are ants, who are hardworking but hardly independent and stagnate and die without a queen. And, sloth-like mammals who are religious by nature and only function well in a theocracy. The fishes need rational, working solutions; the reptiles need to be intimidated and ruled with an iron fist; and so on.

    The game showcases very well that one-size-fits-all solutions do not work, and people and conditions must be understood before taking charge.
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    Jan 28 2012: Just created an account here to answer, and that would be the Metal Gear Solid series.
    (Please pardon me in advance if my statement will jump all over the place. as I will mostly type as I remember it.)

    Why? because it taught me to think, taught me not to readily accept what is being served to me as it is. taught me to scrutinize everything and always come up with my own conclusion and not depend on the conclusion of others.

    How? one premise of the game is that there are several group of people or A.I. that controls the U.S. government (and in turn the world.) and everything from the selection of the President, to anything is decided by this group. might sound "Conspiracy Theory" if you may. but one line from the U.S. president in the game struck me. he said to the character. "Do you really believe that the government listens to what the people says?" or something along the lines of it. I was 14 years old that time. and that made me think. Even that is just a video game, there has to be some truth to his statement, even in the real world.

    there's still a lot more by my brain is already being jumbled by incoming more ideas that is making it more incoherent. but I guess I already said what I wanted to say, just hope that you understood what I wanted to say.
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      Jan 28 2012: I love the Metal Gear Solid series too, but for different reasons. I can't vocalise why I like it so much, except to say that it's masterfully made with an excellent plot and great characters.
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      Jan 28 2012: Great game, great reply, Thankyou Mervyn.
  • Jan 27 2012: The one that has been sticking out for me was Bioshock, and even more so Bioshock 2. They really seem to cut to the core of the mindless violence that so many video games flaunt as big selling points. This is ironically done through excessive violence. So much so that it at some times pained me to do it, enough that I would avoid it. Bioshock 2 was the first game to cause me to stop and consider my actions in that sense. (SPOILER) There are points in the game when you are given the option to kill or not kill certain characters you are introduced to. The instant gratification of getting a large sum of money and items gives reason to kill. Saving them, however, ultimately allots more benefits in the long run of the game. Characters that you save show you compassion in return. There was even a point where you find an audio recording of a character that says he has done genetic experiments on himself (if memory serves) and that, no matter what he will say in person, that you, the protagonist, should kill him. When the time comes, the character begs and pleads for you to spare his life. It was at this point that I spent nearly five minutes just sitting in front of the switch that, if thrown, would kill him. I had never felt a moment like that before and it really struck me what kind of violence we as a society seem to glorify in some realms.

    I also really have enjoyed the Assassins Creed games, mainly for their innovative story and, later on, for their intricate puzzles that legitimately require background knowledge on art, history, and mythology to solve. Puzzles included understanding which gods had children with mortals in Greek mythology, among many others. I was also phenomenally impressed with the open-ended world where you could climb any building within the game, all of which were designed historically accurately. Each time you came to a new building or met a historic figure, a blurb about them would pop up that would give you information on them.
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      Jan 28 2012: "When the time comes, the character begs and pleads for you to spare his life. It was at this point that I spent nearly five minutes just sitting in front of the switch that, if thrown, would kill him." This kind of situation happened to me while playing Dragon Age. My party-member's loved one had been given what we can call a 'magical lobotomy'. For a brief moment we were able to bring his mind back and ask what went on. He asked to be killed once his mind started to go again, and it does. He in unaware of this decision once he returns to his magically restricted mind, and I am given the choice to kill him or not. I think to myself... what do I do?? Do I kill this friendly smiling person because his former self has asked me? The result would have no effect in the storyline but still I took a while to think about it. I was stumped but then I did what he had asked and killed him.
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        Jan 29 2012: A similar decision was in Skyrim. There was a cave full of bandits, and the bandit leader had given his old, blind grandfather the job of being a lookout at the cave entrance. When you entered the cave you could impersonate a bandit if you knew one of their names, or you could kill them. If you impersonated a bandit he'd let you through without fighting you. Everyone else in the cave, naturally, was hostile.

        After wiping out the entire bandit group I went past the old man on my way out. I couldn't really leave him there all alone in the dark, everyone else dead. I dumped a bunch of food on the table in front of him and left. Others I know killed the guy so he wouldn't starve to death alone.
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          Jan 29 2012: I admit I am awful when playing Skyrim. I lead dragons into towns and hack up all the wildlife.... except... the fox...The first time I played I killed one. I stalked the fox I said to myself 'its just a game, kill everything!', but it was so innocent and looked playful. I felt bad. My new character has no fox blood on her hands.
  • Jan 27 2012: I used to be selfish, arrogant, lazy, moody and generally unpleasant. Then one day I picked up Baldur's Gate, was introduced to the concept of a "Paladin" and I never looked back. I knew what I wanted to be like and have since then tried to change my personality to be as much like one in this world as is possible.
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    Jan 27 2012: Age of Empires 2 CE: I spent hours and days playing this game, it changed my way of seeing life because I learned how to overcome adversity and manage my resources in an effective way. That our natural resources are finite and they cant be renewed soon enough to fill our hunger. We need to take care of our piece of land!
    • Jan 27 2012: Yes! I loved that game!
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    Feb 11 2012: Civilization (I've been playing since the first), SimEarth, and the various SimCity titles gave me a much broader perspective on the world when I was quite young and spurred an interest in Foreign Policy, History, and City Planning. For my 7 year old, using Tycoon games are quite valuable in letting him see how our votes and the actions of businesses impact our day to day life.
  • Feb 10 2012: Portal/Portal 2 taught me to appreciate the humor found in all areas of life.
    • Feb 10 2012: Perfectly agree. Portal 2 is one of the two games I would play again. The other one is GHOST TRICK: Phantom Detective - captivating story, great visuals, unique gameplay and lots of humor. It didn't change my life, but certainly challenged my point of view on death, in a very fun way:)
  • Feb 8 2012: World of Warcraft. It didn't change my perspective, but it has taught me a lot about teamwork that I use in my everyday life. Understanding the roles in group projects (a tank, a healer, those that just concentrate on getting the job done) takes on a new perspective when it's a group of five people, ten people or twenty-five.

    These days, much of my play is more about observing the interactions of the other players than the competitiveness of the game itself.
  • Feb 1 2012: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 was probably the first game that I ever really had a realization moment about myself with. While playing through Kotor 1 I played a dark side character, but really didn't feel much about it since the majority of the time the characters that I would gain dark side points by doing whatever it was I was doing were really deserving of said nasty actions. When time came to play through Kotor 2, I was confronted with an option to do an evil deed, and just couldn't bring myself to do it. I had the thought of "Is this really the type of person I want to be?", and so in turn I started picking the choices that I would pick in real life, rather than the choices that would disconnect my character from my morals beliefs; regardless of how funny they may be. I've since played through all the games that have moral systems in this sense, and I find them much more fulfilling (and people in the games seem to like me a whole lot more for not stealing everything of there's).
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    Jan 30 2012: Continued...

    GAMEPLAY /

    SSBM's gameplay still blows my mind. I've been playing for ten years and competitively for at least five. To even say that I know half the depth of the gameplay is probably inaccurate. The range of the level at which this game can be played is absolutely ridiculous. Even now, we still find new aspects to the game that can dramatically affect its competitive metagame.

    How does this relate to life? As a designer, it's pretty easy to understand when people dismiss your field. I feel that art is belittled constantly, as is/was video-gaming because people do not understand much about them. Growing up, gaming was always just a "distraction" from other life priorities. Seeing and knowing the depth of which this game can be interpreted (same with art), I've learned to never underestimate anything in life. Instead, I have an understanding that everything runs deep, and just because I'm ignorant of those details, doesn't mean I should dismiss it.

    :)
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      Jan 30 2012: I am in awe and my eyes started to sparkle as I thought about such a community! "I've learned to never underestimate anything in life. Instead, I have an understanding that everything runs deep...". That has been a difficult lesson to learn but once I grasped it the whole world became more enjoyable. Thank you very much for commenting!
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    Jan 30 2012: Your question made me spend half an hour searching for photos and videos of the game i mentioned before HARDLINE. here is a video I found from the last scene of HARDLINE I think is worth watching. I played this game when I was 16 and now I am 28 , 12 years ago, this game helped create part of the image of person I wanted to become.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiL_dSuzMok
    I don't like what some of the recent games like GTA have to offer. Theft ? rape ? anarchy ?
    I have seen some new games with the theme of love but there is almost always a revenge plot (punisher). HARDLINE was not about revenge or unnecessary violence. it was about creating a better world and above all it was about love.
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      Jan 30 2012: That is an intense ending. I see the conflict between the brothers(?) and though I don't know exactly what was going on I enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time find it and share it!
  • Jan 30 2012: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    I found out about this game when I was a lot younger- mainly due to my older sister. I think my eyes first saw this game when I was 7 or 8 years old, but it really stole my heart when I was 9. The whole series overall has been of a great impact to me, but boldly I have to declare my undying love to Ocarina of Time in particular. I'm sure that anyone reading this post probably knows what OoT is about but to point out some key factors, it's the forever told legend of a young boy emerging into a world that he is a stranger in and making his way through countless perils to save his home and friends. All you need to do is apply yourself, believe, and well your story is told in the way you do it. I mean - by din - that game actually has the option of accomplishing two of the temples in a reverse order. Your journey in that game was really what you made it!

    I guess I fell in love with that world, and seeing the things that you could accomplish if you put a little effort forward. It made me realize that you have to be the one to chase your dream- to make that difference in your life. I really wanted to be strong like Link, and I literally put myself into a mindset that I would be the person in my life that was (it sounds a little narcissistic when I say it here but) the chosen one( -or if I ever teleported to Hyrule I would be ready to live there - haha!). I would assert myself where I wanted my dreams to go, and I would believe in myself. I refused to rely on others for anything I could. OoT also taught me that there were sometimes trials that come your way that you can do nothing about, but you can either sit and cry and wait for someone else or go grow from it- become stronger!

    Overall I guess I can say that I would not be half the person I am today if it weren't for this game. Everything about this game is an inspiring tool in my life. I still think of Zelda everyday, and will live my Legend in life the best I can. Thank you LoZ!
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      Jan 30 2012: Awesome. Thankyou so much for sharing that!
      • Jan 31 2012: Always a pleasure! Thank you for giving us gamers the opportunity to shout out to the games that molded our lives!

        Thank you!
  • Jan 30 2012: The first quest I ever played was "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past". It taught me three important things:
    1. Children can also be courageous, and can also change and save the world: Link, the main character, is a child, and does all of it.
    2. It is not over until it is over: After getting the 3 pendants and getting the master sword, I thought I was about to end the game by defeating Gannon. Well, after defeating him the first time, the quest became larger.
    3. You have to rely on other people: whether it is the Sarrahala the elder for advice, the former thief turned into a locksmith, or the dwarves that temper your sword, you always need the help of others.
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    Jan 30 2012: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.
    No doubt about that. This is simply one most important game I've ever experienced.

    Alpha Centauri is creating for us how-will-you-colonize-new-world-under-certain-restrictions type situation (unfortunately not very common school subject yet). While doing so game is inviting us to look at broad spectrum of concepts and dynamics on which our world is build upon. It made me interested in philosophy and sociology far more resultful that probably any other media i've ever approached. And whats more it convinced me that pretty everything around me is product of complex generations-long ideas and dynamics that few grasps but still they can be understood and re-engineered to suit our necessities.
    This cut-scenes illustrates tone and type of concepts which this game is portraying: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO_xh7xIabk
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      Jan 30 2012: Thank you. I enjoyed watching that clip. The Sid Meier games I am now finding out have been greatly influential so thanks again for sharing.
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    Jan 28 2012: An old RTS on PC The Ancient Art Of War was my first true experience in developing and implementing strategies that game was followed by many other strategy games and developed my ability to analyze and solve problems strategically.

    But the first place goes to Bioware's Dragon Age Origin's that has amazing story, unforgettable characters and teaches the reality of making hard decisions and their price when trying to achieve a greater good and how even against all odds being persistent keeps you going. I played the game in one of the most difficult times for me and it helped me go through it.
    To the honor of the grey wardens !!!
  • Jan 28 2012: Sid Meier's Civilization series. A far more effective teacher of a significant number of subjects than actual teachers of those fields. Allowing young and growing (and even mature) minds to understand the emergent complexity of human civilization is no mean feat.

    Ideally, education would evolve into things like this - engage our mind through iterative interaction and feedback that allows us to control multiple complex variables on the fly and see what kind of feedback we recieve from them, rather than sit in classrooms reading dry textbooks and watching dry documentary presentations (although some of them can be well made).
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      Jan 28 2012: "...engage our mind through iterative interaction and feedback that allows us to control multiple complex variables on the fly..." I couldn't agree more. The learning process at school was very slow for me compared to the life I was living. Math games kept me on top of the class through grade school.
  • Jan 28 2012: I played Battletech MUX for a few years. The game is text based online game using a telnet client or similar. Play is based on the tabletop Battltech game. The game gave me a lot of practical experience in working in a structured volunteer organization. The game was played over one or months and included recruitment, event organization, communication protocol, leadership practice, small group teamwork, and other practical real world skills in practice. Learning to work closely and cooperatively with many different individuals was a very valuable experience. And I learned how to type fast!
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      Jan 28 2012: Having been a clan leader in Warcraft III as a kid, I realize how much I learned in regards to managing and leading an organization, all of which you outlined. And yes: you definitely learn to type fast! :P

      The interesting bit is that one of my nerdy peers who's into gaming is just *now* getting into a position like that in a game of his, where he's the leader of an organization of sorts. Over the weeks, I've noticed dramatic, identifiable differences in his skills as a leader. As in, he actually *HAS* skill as a leader now, whereas that was practically absent before.

      Talk about leveling up!? :D These are things I've taken for granted all these years, since leading a clan in Warcraft III as a kid. How many adults are there that *never* learn these skills?
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        Jan 30 2012: "Talk about leveling up!?" Haha exactly right.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thankyou Jim and Tyler. I haven't done multi-player gaming at that level. My experience with it is organizing my team within a Starcraft game. As a game host I realize my responsibility in keeping everyone communicating and working together towards the goal. I have gained a lot of skills from this role of leadership. It was a role that I have never experienced before and now I am very comfortable addressing a group of people and asking them to do what I tell them, and changing what I do to accommodate them.
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    Jan 28 2012: I've played many games...I'm currently playing Star Wars the Old Republic and I love the whole "there is no passion, there is only serenity" jedi mindset. In the jedi world--cool heads prevail.

    I love how they literally prevented relationships in the Jedi order so that jedi could practice removing emotion from action and supported jedis being as unaffected by emotion as much as possible as that was to to keep their heads clear and their actions steady and forthright.

    It was an attribute that they had to constantly work on and although it seemed counter-intuitive, one can clearly see how much strength a jedi could gain, and how much clearer their actions were without emotion.

    Often times we think we need emotion to act...movies promote that, stories in books are mired in this premise, especially love stories. But also in history we see men/women who kept their cool and still won, and won big in the end.

    I admire people with cool heads...who do what is logical and don't succumb to their emotions so easily, as they can cloud judgment.

    In opposition to that, of course, there is the 'sith way' where passion and anger fuel the power. I have played both sides and I must admit it is much more difficult to not let one's emotions rule. It takes more discipline and work to be a jedi than a sith, even one that has a light side because a sith's emotions ride on the tumultuous waves of passion and that can make for quite the bumby ride. lol
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      Jan 28 2012: This illustrates a very important lesson and I also admire people with cool heads. "It takes more discipline and work to be a jedi" Great point.
  • Jan 28 2012: League of Legends. Not because of the game story, but because you have to cooperate with complete strangers against a team of other strangers in relatively short battles (30~45 minutes). There you really have to learn some fast interaction skills to keep the team's morale up, plan group operations in a few seconds and deal with people who just complains and blames everybody else except themselves. I've been able to see and think about what kind of attitudes are positive and productive for the team, like praising your partners' achievements, and what are the ones that just tear teams appart, like just flooding someone with bad words at every mistake he/she makes.
  • Jan 28 2012: Glitch. Something about that game reminds me to be helpful, generous, and positive in real life. To me, the game is all about helping others and showing them how awesome the "world" is. Furthermore, I have learned that the best way to combat the "trolls" and cynics is to be extremely nice to them and keep welcoming them (well, as long as they don't harm you directly, of course). I like to believe niceness melts even the iciest of hearts sooner or later. I recommend this game to anyone who likes sweetness and sharing :)
    www.glitch.com
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      Jan 28 2012: I was a beta tester for the game that Butterfield and friends made before Glitch, called The Game Neverending. It had a wonderful community made up of geeks and technologists, and it was basically a chatroom with a cool game attached. We'd talk about all kinds of interesting and deep topics, and everyone online would participate. It was a wonderful thing to have growing up, and I'm glad they've still got that vibe going in Glitch.
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      Jan 28 2012: Aaah.... "I like to believe niceness melts even the iciest of hearts sooner or later."

      Here's a quote for you: "To cool a hot attitude, apply nice. To melt a cold attitude, address warmly."

      Thanks for making me remember this quote...

      Is there any way to ban/block this page from displaying on my computer? I'd hate my son to get ahold of so much amunition for reasons why I should let him play video games....LOL
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        Jan 29 2012: The right video games can be life-affirming and educational, and not just in the books-and-learnin' kind of way. Video games (even single-player ones) are also a general common ground for males of all ages, and in fact are becoming one of the safest and most fun ways for young people to interact. In the old days you'd get the gang and go bowling or go to the movies, and these days you gather around and play a nice multiplayer game.

        I read in your previous replies that you've noticed that kids who play video games get really antsy and jumpy at school, but this is normal after a child has engaged with any kind of exciting media like movies or games. What's important to remember is that they're still in the realm of play, and simply need to be reminded to get back in the real world. That's why certain previous studies re. the effects of video games on violence have been so unconvincing: if you tell a kid to play a violent video game, and then ask them to punch a punching bag, that's still within the consequence-free terms of play. The real test would be to observe the child's behaviour in normal life. You shouldn't let your kid play ten hours straight of games, but they're really not bad at all.

        Another idea is to look through the stuff at http://www.gog.com , which sells classic PC games from yesteryear. These games are often much better than the newer stuff they make, being both less visually violent (if at all), and exhibiting better writing, better pacing, and an overall better experience than newer games. It would be like comparing a novel to a tabloid. The independent game scene is also blossoming on the PC, where many lovely games are being made. The go-to place for that is Steam or Desura, both digital distribution systems for video games.
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          Jan 29 2012: Thank you for your thoughts.....I have learned much from them Desi.

          I will take up your recommendation and look up the website.

          Thank you again.
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        Jan 29 2012: Mary, you wouldn't really want your son to miss out on this conversation ;) Don't make me make it my goal to find a game for you and him because I will! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Learning_Company#Super_Solvers_series I highly recommend the game "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" and "Treasure Mathstorm!" ^_^
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          Jan 29 2012: I played Carmen Sandiego on the Commodores in my grade school back in the 90s. Sweet game.
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          Jan 29 2012: Oh Tyne, you brought a very big smile to my face.

          I will look up your article, and also go and find the games you recommended.

          I remember "Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego" from a PBS children's program.

          I did not know they had a video game for it.....now that one seems like I wouldn't mind sharing.

          Thank you Tyne!!!
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    Jan 28 2012: Final Fantasy X

    This was the only Final Fantasy game that I have ever played and ti was absolutely incredible. It's a long story but a very good one. The biggest impact that it had on me was that it showed me what it meant to care for others and to cherish those you care about. It was a combination of the gameplay, the story, and the music, especially the music, that had this effect.

    It has been about 6 years since I played the game, but last year I found all of the cut scenes online and I watched them again. All of the emotions I initially got from it returned and it made me very happy and nostalgic. I was listening to one of its songs on Youtube recently and I remembered a comment that I agreed with very deeply. It said "I think everyone in their lifetime should play this game. Its not just a video game, its an inspiration. Imagine the world leaders we would have if they were influenced by this game. People could be inspired to do the unimaginable. Square Enix and Nobuo Uematsu, i thank you for the unforgettable game and music that has without doubt made me a better person."

    I couldn't agree more with the notion that world leaders, and people in general, should play this game and experience this story just once. It opens your heart and fills it with positive emotions.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thankyou that game story was fantastic. Tidus is a well-written character.
    • Jan 30 2012: I have to second your sentiment. My eyes teared up when watching the ending cutscene.

      I believe the strength of FFX is the story and its characters. The game was set up so that you discovered Spira alongside Tidus throughout the journey and this made me feel more connected to the rest of the cast. Of course, the whole game was underscored by the inevitable final confrontation with Sin. It was a load that each character carried with them but they were still able to share a laugh and enjoy the journey despite of the sad conclusion.

      I don't think it's enough for people to play this game. They must live it. Only then can you take away what I believe is the most important word of FFX: together. Band together, sacrifice together, laugh together; only then can we have a hope of breaking they cycle of Sin.
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        Jan 30 2012: Well said Michael, thanks for your comment. You've conveyed and summarized the experience of playing FFX nicely into words.
  • Jan 27 2012: If I must single out one game I must choose Bioshock(1-2). These games completly changed my perspective of Utopia. It is a perfect example to what happen when you try to build a homogeneous society. And While playing bioshock 2 you can collect some audiotapes listen what happened step by step while utopia turned into a dystopia. It can give you a few idea in what situations should governments intervene or not. It also make think about basic human psychology and parent-child reletionship.
    Also I must mention sometimes not the games but some musics can change how think. For example The Boneyard music from CoD:MW2 was magnificant like Temple of Light from Fable: The Lost Chapter. Most of the people ( and unfortunately some of the players) ignore music of games but they can be quite powerful, arguable perhaps as good as Mozart or Beethoven.
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      Jan 28 2012: I have a lot of game soundtracks on my playlist mixed in with Mozart and Beethoven, no joke. There are some orchestrated symphony versions of game music from Final Fantasy and Zelda games.
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    Shean F

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    Jan 27 2012: -FF7 is a great game one of my favorites; the storyline keeps you hooked, it´s just great, the game touches many aspects of life.

    There´s the balance, in nature, on our planet, how we have a planet with finite resources which if not properly taken care of, we will destroy ourselves and our home (mako energy and the planet). But if taken care of it can be infinite since nature recycles everything, there is no such thing as garbage. So it really makes you have an interest for our planet and its resources, probably while you´re playing you don´t realize it, but at a subconscious level the game is feeding it into you, it´s giving you positive values. Years pass and when you look back at the game and analyze the storyline you realize “wow”

    That we´re all connected, the life cycle, how we´re all ONE. We´re all made out of the same material. (We´re all stardust) How one dying being is energy for new born beings.

    It has a bit of politics, with the Shinra industry, which operates as the de facto world government how these corporations control and do whatever they want for their own selfish needs, at the expense of others (the slums under the mako reactors & control the military for their needs – reminds me of most wars of history, the interest of a few millions die ) .

    Following up on this, how there´s conspiracy and lies, when they blame the rebel organization AVALANCHE for the explosions (which is true), making them look bad, and be hunted down when they´re actually the good guys trying to make a change, make things right (even though in a extreme manner but sometimes change must be done with this attitude, I’m not saying blow up stuff you don´t like but to take action when you don´t agree with something that is in no question of doubt WRONG). Later in the game the Shinra causes a terrorist attack blaming Avalanche killing a whole sector (neighborhood) (reminds me of 9-11) Not to believe everything that you are told.
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      Jan 28 2012: It was interesting to see a bit from the perspective of Shinra Corporation and how these characters were struggling to create their utopia.
  • Jan 27 2012: I would have to say that there were a couple.

    First I would want to mention Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. It was the most psychologically challenging game I'd ever played and it was the first that actually did things specifically to mess with you the player... not just your character.

    I think Golden Eye 007 made me realize that I was better than a lot of people at some things and started me off on having my first sense of actual confidence.

    I do agree with a lot of the comments on here. There are some pretty interesting things that video games did in my experience. I think most of all they gave me ideas of what things I like and helped shape who I felt myself to actually be. I was a goofy kid that liked aliens and imaginative things. I read a lot of game magazines that used large words that actually made me a better reader than most the kids in my class (and compared to my siblings as well).

    I do agree with what one person said about harm video games can do... I do think that no human is meant to consistently do any one specific thing for hours and hours on end. Our minds thrive on progress and growth. I used to play video games more than anyone I know (whole days on end from wake to sleep) but, after expanding my interests, goals, hobbies, spirituality, and ideals video games stopped being so appealing and even seem like sometimes like a waste of time when I know there are better things that I can be doing.. I do think that IT IS okay to take a break, relax, and play occasionally and I do like video games still and play them but I think using them as an "Escape" can be just as bad a problem as drinking to "take the edge off" every night.
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      Jan 28 2012: "I read a lot of game magazines that used large words that actually made me a better reader than most the kids in my class..."

      Very nice. I haven't seen reading as an example yet, but that is an extremely good point. Though your example is a magazine there are a lot of games that require careful reading.
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    Jan 27 2012: I played a game called Neverwinter Nights - a computer version of Dungeons & Dragons. Like the original, it was a good way to spend a great deal of time. I played online, first as a player, then as an administrator (the dreaded Dungeon Master) and finally as a contributor to the game world's content as a developer.

    I made some online friends and came to remotely know a wide range of players: a manager of a dairy plant, an IT consultant, a rock star and a truck driver. I was pretty struck by how you could make friends with people you hadnever met while slayig goblins, so I wrote a novel (never published - I tried, though). It is fiction and follows a group of gamers in real life and also inside the game. Not the best book, but my first and I learned a great deal. I am sure to write again (and better) in the future - all thanks to a game :)
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      Jan 28 2012: Thankyou for your comment! I suggest giving the book a re-write and perhaps sharing it online. I would be interesting in reading it and I'm sure fans of that game could be found and shared with too.