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.

  • 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.
    • 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!
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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.
    • 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.
        • 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.
        • 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.
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    Jan 27 2012: When I first read the question, the first thought that sprung to my mind was: "I've played way too many games to pick out just one experience."

    I've grown up with video games as an important means of passing time, and they have all in one way or another shaped who I am today. Every single one of them; from the 'science workshop' game I had on the computer when I was around 6 years old that got me interested in science and had me thinking creatively, to Grand Theft Auto's open world filled with violence and danger having me question what is OK or not in both reality and fiction with such an easily influenced audience as the kids who play these games. Even the Pokemon series that got me hooked and obsessed for years (and I still continue to come back to) had me learn a lot about who I am and why I do the things I do.

    Video games have influenced my life in ways no other medium ever has, which is why I'm currently pursuing an education in Computer Game Design at Stockholm University. I'm doing it in order to make games that can help coming generations to take a break from the world around them and have them see and explore themselves for a while, something a lot of people do too little these days.

    An interesting question, one that got me to comment something here on TED for the first time ever (after all this time of just watching the videos!). Thank you.
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      Jan 27 2012: Lol I know what you mean Daniel as I love TED watch something from here at least 5 times a week. Have pivoted many conversations toward speakers I have learned greatly from here perhaps prompting more change or creative conclusion than gaming has but it took this question to prompt me to ever talk on here. Funny how that happens :)
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        Jan 27 2012: Funny indeed, but when It's so close at heart you just get that urge to speak up :)

        I'd say that gaming can have a great importance as well, but that's another topic for another day ^^
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          Jan 28 2012: Thankyou Daniel. I felt this conversation was needed and I'm glad to have gotten so many responses!
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    Jan 27 2012: For me it's Goldeneye 007. One does not finish the Facility level on 00 Agent in less than 2:05 without learning a great deal about perseverance, practice and hard work. Ironically, this time-wasting activity became the founding pillar of my professional work ethic.
  • Jan 27 2012: Back when I played Morrowind for the first time, I wanted to make a character just like me. I asked myself which skills I would choose and what type of person I would be. Most people chose to be brutes who swung their weapons hard and fast. This might have been a better strategy, but since I was making a character like me I wanted to be true to myself.

    Growing up, I didn't have any strong male figures around me. I was raised by independent women so I didn't think or act like all the other boys. I never owned an action figure and I never played with toy guns cause I never wanted to. I was a bit effeminate and it made me self conscious. I wondered why didn't I have any male friends or why didn't I play sports.

    In Morrowind, I decided to focus on the magic and the intelligence skill set. In reality, I was a loner who was absorbed in his books. It wasn't a huge impact, but trying to make a connection between Morrowind and reality gave me a boost in self confidence when I realized that I had something valuable, even if it was different from everyone else.
  • Jan 27 2012: There are a couple of games that deeply affected me,
    Braid showed me how perspective can change things in ones life, how melancholy, sadness and heartbreak is as much an essential part of life as joy, and how good and bad are so easy to confuse between.
    Limbo gives me a look into the duality of life and death, of the deep sense of familial ties and the fragility of life.
    To the moon is one of those games that brings me to tears with the theme of human melancholy, sadness, love and death. It has a powerful way of putting human relations and emotions in a game.

    Other games, which are not as affecting, but have an extremely powerful tale to tell which makes me think for hours after I finish the game everytime are Portal, Deus Ex, Dragon Age and Witcher(both 1 and 2).
    • Jan 28 2012: After playing Braid and Limbo, I have to agree on this- they are beautiful artistic pieces.I haven't played to the moon, will give it a try.
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      Jan 28 2012: A lot of people have been mentioning Braid but I haven't heard about Limbo or To the Moon, thankyou.
  • Jan 26 2012: It depends on us if we play a videogame just for spending time and no lesson from the game is left on us. In this last years Imperia Online has been a little influential game for me. Why? In Imperia Online you run an empire, you have to invest, build and make economical, political, and even military decisions. One of the more important aspects of imperia is, the hability to make good financial decisions. Also if you borrow money from the bank you must be sure that you can pay that debt in the determined time without going into "red" numbers for example. Also if you recruit too many soldiers then you have less workers and less gold is produced. Its an amusing way to learn how the delicate balance of economy works.
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    Jan 24 2012: Thank you for sharing your story and very nice thread you started!

    I have to admit that no video game I ever played has radically changed my life, but I like to think that Age of Empires II did improve my knowledge and more importantly my thirst for knowledge in history. I had a lot of fun playing the historical campaigns retracing the - more or less historically accurate - lives of famous kings and conquerors.
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      Jan 25 2012: That is a good example. Games that reference historical events can inspire people to find out more. This reminds me of playing Colonization and Civilization.
      • Jan 28 2012: I would say Civilization taught me more about history than school ever could: the variety of military units; the personalities of different cultures; the most important wonders of the world; the military benefits of communism over democracy; the economic benefits of democracy over communism; the effects of a scarcity of resources; techniques of diplomacy; the history and roots of technology - I feel I could go on forever.
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    Feb 23 2012: Rune Factory (DS). This is an odd choice but I remember my first impression of the game as something quite inspiring. As someone growing up playing the Zelda series, the fundamental method of 'earning' money in games is often through killing monsters or cutting grass... But Rune Factory brings back the notion of 'farming' (i.e. a form of repetitive labour to earn money in games) to the very core - hard, honest, non-violent/destructive, patient, and productive labour of planting seeds, growing crops, and harvesting to earn a living. And this makes Rune Factory one of the games where I get the most rewarding gaming experience. One of the comments I made after playing this game is that “If all kids (or teens or young adults) play this game as part of their education, they would be so much better in managing their finance since they would understand that money is not something to be taken for granted – it’s not something that appears out of nowhere but earned by someone (parents/gradients/etc.) through work and labour.”

    Catherine (PS3). This game is truly for the mature gamers but the story is so intriguing and equally relevant. Some reviewers describe this game as a “coming-of-age” story and I think the gameplay and narrative really resonate with me as someone recently graduating from university and entering society as a ‘real human being’ (somehow I can’t help but agree with the sad and probably unfair mentality that students are not ‘real people’). It is a story about taking responsibility, about facing and overcoming the fragility of human relationships, and about commitments (either to oneself as being true to their hearts or to others as being faithful to their promises). There is no ‘correct’ ending to the story, and I think that’s the beauty of this game since it allows the gamer to discover what it is to be an adult. An eye-opening example of what the future of gaming can do in terms of narrative and gameplay.
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    Feb 20 2012: Hi Tyne - great learnings you are telling us about. Thx for sharing !

    My experience was much easier: "The Settlers" were enough to change my perspective on the media; to understand the active part of it ..... However Twitter really changed by behaviour and my information horizont - and made be a different person. I now feel globally more repsonsible than ever before.
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      Feb 21 2012: Thanks for sharing! What kind of game was The Settlers? It sounds familiar!
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    Feb 18 2012: I definitely have to say Chrono Trigger changed my outlook on the world, and my place in it. The contrast of instantly travelling from a happy, green world of peace to 1000 years into the future and seeing a dystopian civilization was an eye opening moment for my younger self. The way the game progresses, you can make decisions to make the world a better place for everyone in the future (restoring forests, spreading peace and goodwill, many other options along those lines), or simply eliminate the immediate evil. It made me realize that if I try to help the world, help the people, and help myself, then the world can only become a better place. I see the world now as having unlimited options to change it for the better, whether I live to see the results or not.
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    Feb 16 2012: Warhammer 40K. Not technically a 'video' game, but a model-based war game which eventually had great video games modeled after it.

    A central theme in Warhammer 40K is internal corruption, brought to life by an evil force called Chaos which prays on the personal desires of individuals. A popular writing within this vast story-world (developed for decades by dozens of story developers and even more novel authors) is "Chaos claims the unwary and the incomplete. A true man may flinch away it's embrace if he is stalwart, and if he girds his soul with the armor of contempt."

    I always viewed the topic of Chaos Corruption as a mirror for the corruption of personal morals. We often wonder if we can change a system founded on immoral practices from within the system without corrupting our own moral ideas. These stories of holding to an ideology, of slow corruption and guarding ones integrity form a back-bone for my own moral integrity.
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    Feb 15 2012: I'm not a video gamer (so maybe my answer is a bit redundant) but my sons are and my attitude towards them has changed quite a bit. I previously looked at them as pure entertainment and my inability to get my children's attention while they were playing prompted a negative perspective. Lately however, I've noticed my ten year old using words whose meaning he knows from the games he plays. He's also making inferences based on strategies he's used and his critical thinking skills are improving by leaps and bounds. While I'm reluctant to credit video games for this learning resurgence, as an educator, I am fully aware that this has most likely played a role...and I'm now trying to show an interest in them :) So to answer your question - yes, they have changed my perspective!
  • Feb 9 2012: I was always into the puzzle games or fighters, but yeah, FFVII definitely changed the way I played games. It was something my girlfriend at the time and I played together. It strengthened our relationship... even our mobile ringtones played that signature victory tune... crazy right? But it wasn't just the great story; it was the music too that inspired. Who doesn't feel a lump in their throat when listening to Aeris' (Aerith's) theme? So I appreciate most things that come out of Square Enix.

    But deep down I’m still a puzzler. Echochrome on PSP really made me look at myself. It’s just a mannequin trying to get from A to B on an Escheresque, existential platform. THIS is life…
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      Feb 13 2012: Thanks for sharing :3
    • Feb 14 2012: The music in Final Fantasy VII is brilliant. I love Nobuo Uematsu. He did a brilliant job composing for those games. ^^ And the scores he composed for FFX (not the tracks composed by the person working with him on that same game, mind you) are sometimes impossible for me to listen to without crying. The music paired with the brilliant characters that always come out of those games makes for an astounding, awe-inspiring video game.
  • Feb 8 2012: While I doubt "challenge my perspective in life", I feel like I've had video games touch me in the same way a well written story can. Funnily enough, when I play a video game, I play it for the story - not the gameplay - and to hear the soundtrack. And if the overall spectacle (the animation) is good, there's an extra bonus point. Without a good story, I feel like I'm playing the video game and not gaining much. Maybe a fun time with my friends, but not much else. If the video game matches up to the qualifications Aristotle lists in his Poetics, it's gonna be good. Yes, Aristotle's Poetics can be applied to anything. I guess that makes me a very nerdy video-game lover.

    The Final Fantasy games are definitely some of the games that have touched me. I watched my brother play most of them because I'm just so horrible at actually playing video games. Yet I love them. Sigh. Oh well. I actually played through Final Fantasy X. By the end, I could not believe the journey I went through, and how real the characters had become. All of the Final Fantasy games are definitely precious to me in so many ways.

    The soundtrack of them, for one, is always brilliant.

    The other game that has astounded me is The Word Ends With You. That game is definitely one that has great gameplay, cool animation, a GREAT story, GREAT character development, and for a lot of people probably did challenge their perspective on life. Constantly showing the message to "broaden your horizons". The gameplay is endless, the story is amazing. Overall, The World Ends With You is a complete work of art. If we're going by Aristotle's Poetics here (which can be applied to anything), TWEWY has got it all. And it shows.
  • Feb 7 2012: I am not sure that a video game has changed my perspective on life, but I do believe they can make us numb to certain things. I am a veteran and was a war hawk when I was younger. The older I get, the more I see the human side of war. It is not all about the covert operations that we see on t.v.....many times it is about the women and children who are caught in the crossfire. Having said that, I believe the introduction of the "Call of Duty" first person shooter games gives the students I teach a different view of war. They don't understand the toll that war can take on the people or the economy of a country, they see the war as cool explosions and sniper headshots. Many kids are drawn to the military with the expectaion of a "gaming" experience without realizing there is not an option for a restart.
  • Feb 7 2012: I would have to say Starcraft II. I have gotten a lot better at planning since playing.
  • Feb 7 2012: Sid's Civilizations series is a good one to be pointed out. Gives you a grander, the-look-from-above sort of perspective on things, the same feeling you can get if you dig astronomy or those origin of the universe and meaning of life fields of study.

    Bioware's Mass Effect series is another one. Aside from the somewhat 'realistic' future outlook this RPG game gives, the importance of choice and morality is a thing to take away also. "Every decision" you make will have impacts on the story. In fact, decisions made in the first game will have big impacts on the last one with saved game file imports.

    Anyway, look these up if interested.
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    Feb 7 2012: Elder Scroll Skyrim.
  • Feb 5 2012: I've never played it but Mass Effect takes the cake for character accountability.
  • Feb 2 2012: Probably the original Legend of Zelda. Aside from having to wander around to find everything, it actually got me to realize the importance of contacting others when I needed help. Then again, that's also what the developer Shigeru Miyamoto had admitted during his 2007 GDC address. He admitted that he wanted it to be a single player game that people had to interact with others in real-life to actually learn how to advance in the game and find everything that can be found. So he and his team, in effect, created multiplayer single player game.

    Though, in more recent terms, the general The Elder Scrolls games, mostly as they are the interactive, digital versions of the medieval romances and Norse/Germanic sagas, which were often used to question or reinforce different societal values.

    Probably one of the things that made me question the most though, most recently that is, is Alan Wake. Then again, this is coming from someone who is trying to break into being a writer and it was covering aspects of the psychology of both writer's block and the act of writing itself, as the story revolves around a writer who has writer's block that ends up falling into a story that he's unaware of the fact that he's writing it.
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    Feb 1 2012: EVERQUEST:

    In 7th grade I started playing in January 2000 and didn't quit until 2005. I am 25.

    This game is a fantasy MMORPG game.

    Immediately my vocabulary increased, a lot. The game content did this not the PCs.

    Started educating myself how to build computers to run games faster leading to a interest in science and technology. Again no one helped me (except forums).

    Throughout high school my twin brother got in so much bad trouble it was deafening, I however got in no trouble.

    Adventuring frightened me a lot and had me on edge whenever I traveled to unknown locations (sometimes dying, one time losing my corpse and everything on it) but afterwards having the knowledge and experience to then help people know what I know and grouping with them to help me and them was well worth the sweat and adrenaline, not to mention the anger and beat-in keyboards.

    Everquest has taught me a lot looking back over the years, particularly at a very young age, but if I would have to tell you one thing this game has taught me more than anything it is you have to group with different types of people in different environments, some times, to have a really good time and the same applies outside.

    I have been catching up outside since 05 going off to college in Colorado and doing everything there is and I've only hit the 1% mark so keep adventuring wherever and whenever!

    Safe Sailing,

    ~Martin
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      Feb 1 2012: "...you have to group with different types of people in different environments sometimes to have a really good time..." I agree! It feels great to venture into new fun communities, especially when they are full of good people (like TED Talks website!).
  • Feb 1 2012: I also have to give kudos to the developers-- I've seen this moral dilemma thing played with in so many games and rarely does it ever feel like either (1) a dilemma for the player (instead of the character) or (2) that it actually makes an appreciable difference in the game itself or its outcome, other than the superficial.
  • Jan 31 2012: This is a really tough question. I've been gaming since I was tall enough to reach the keyboard; literally raised on Activision's glittering masterpiece Battlezone and not much else. In terms of games that directly affected me, though, I'd have to say there are two titles. The first is Deus Ex. I've been writing stories almost as long as I've been gaming, but after playing Deus Ex and experiencing the dark, grim future distinctly without lasers and aliens, I became fascinated with the grittier spectrum of science fiction; Bladerunner, Firefly, and 2001 over Star Trek and the like. Never gone back since. In terms of what affected me most personally, however, I have to mention a tiny little free indie game named Which. It doesn't play for more than twenty minutes, but its quiet and brutally honest portrayal of modern romance permanently changed the way I viewed love. The thing is art, without a doubt. Download link below, if you're interested.
    http://gamejolt.com/freeware/games/adventure/which/1523/
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    Jan 30 2012: Super Smash Brothers Melee.

    Two aspects of this game have altered my life drastically: the community and the gameplay.

    COMMUNITY /

    SSBM has now been released for ten years, meaning that it has no internet capabilities. In order to play, one needs to physically leave their rooms and go out and find others to play. As a result, we've managed to build a community consisting of hundreds of players, some residing in the U.S. while others in Europe and Asia. The competitive scene began around 2002, when tournaments began being hosted, and to this day, our community still thrives off these tournaments.

    I cannot stress enough the amount of close friends and relationships I've found and formed through this community alone. It's unbelievable to imagine that a single video game could alter my life this much. Without Super Smash Brothers, I would be short some of the closest relationships I've made to this day. It's astounding what can come out of a relatively underground social clique held together by the mutual interest of a video game. While the community has both its ups and downs, I would still bet that the community alone is what keeps our players playing ten years later.
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      Jan 30 2012: Lilian, I seem to be having issues with the thumbs up button. I don't know if it will notify you that I have been clicking on it, but right now it says +NaN and I'm not sure what this means. Please ignore it all! I commented on the continued section in case I am having more issues.
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    Jan 30 2012: Final Fantasy XI
    because it wasnt just a game, it was a world apart.
  • Jan 29 2012: Lots of great comments here, some of which apply to me. I'm an Architect, and get inspired by the quality of spaces in video games - as our real built environment gets more and more constrained by safety, energy, and cost concerns, it also becomes much more homogenous. And it is impossible to compete in a real space with the grandeur, grace, and immersive qualitities in games like the new Skyrim. At some point, when the "holodeck" becomes real, it seems to me that architecture will become a wholly technical pursuit except for the wealthiest of us. RPG's like Fallout, Bioshock, etc. also have real world lessons to teach in wayfinding, place making, etc. - communicating where and how to go without clumsy signs. Making our spaces work better for users!

    I played the Civ games since the first one, and the references inspired me to dig deeper into the ideas and authors behind them - certainly shored up my education! I'm also intrigued by games like Fable that try to wrestle with (even in a pretty clumsy way) the idea of morality and right and wrong. It would be very interesting to see how many people deviate, and how many, like myself, seem compelled to follow the 'good' course, even when there are no consequences...
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    Jan 29 2012: Such a beautiful question. Thank you for asking.

    I've been a gamer since I could hold an NES controller and stomp my first goomba, and so it is absolutely true that there are many, many games that have influenced, inspired, and changed me. Perhaps the most lasting, however is Final Fantasy VI.

    I was very young when I started playing it, and it was the first game to introduce me to questions of democracy, moral rights and existential meaning, far before I knew what those things were. The end boss fight, Kefka, rose lasting questions in his final dialogue that still echo within me today, and probably inspired me to investigate philosophy in the first place. Questions like "where is joy when all of one's physical world has been destroyed," "what is the point of living when it is an inevitable fact that we can't live forever - and that nothing we create will either?" "And what's the point when that fact becomes obvious?" And further - if it's enough to live given that one day things will end, what's the point in trying to stop that end from coming?

    The game was full of these types of questions - whether a hereditary king (Edgar) has an obligation to his country, and if so, how can he best serve it. How can a general act morally given an unjust system and potentially unjust causes (Leo). Whether there is a line to be drawn with regard to ethical conduct for war (Kefka's poisoning of Doma) of whether by turning to war we acknowledge the ends justifies the means. How important is "love," really, when the rest of the world is burning (Terra, as well as Cid/Celes).

    Not to mention exploration of the concepts of slavery and sacrifice with regard to the treatment of Espers.

    The game was the first to open me to the reality that life is not black and white, not a single clear protagonist against a single clear antagonist. And it helped me to realize that there are meaningful answers, hidden in the community and lives of people who are plagued with those questions.
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      Jan 30 2012: Thank you so much! I am blown away by a lot of these responses. The Final Fantasy games are full of compelling philosophical ideas, thank you for articulating your experience so well!
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    Jan 29 2012: The RPGs from Bethesda, Bioware and the Rockstar are my best love.
    The elder scroll and the fallout series don`t have a correct way to lead you success.They just give you a character, and you must run it in own way.The moral system is the best system in Fallout.You can`t be a good man and a bed man in the same time.You must have your choice,and everything won`t be perfect no matter whice option you choose.
    &The skyrim are different from the Fallout Vegas, it`s too big!!!You must spend a lot of time in explore the world. I still in my adventure now.
    The mass effect is good too.Although it has a fixed way of the story.But ther final will decide by your choice.At the final episode,you must form you team.The formation of your team decide the destiny of teammate.Who would ever think about it when you first play it!
    The GTA series are my favourite games.Because of it`s freedom.You can do what ever you want .To be a hero ,you can hijack a police car and stop the city crime (only at GTA4).To be the Chaos,you can destory everyting (actully you must cheat so that you can deal with the police).It`s funny!!!
    To serious,many games inspire me.Those game above give me the thinking of kind and evil.The COD modern warfare series tell me what is perseverance and betray.The Assassins creed series tell me what is justice.
    A game is a kind of culture.Please enjoy it.
  • Jan 28 2012: Monkey Island 1-4, The day of Tentacle are my favorite games in this order. They are really funny and witty. Like with any other games, with these two I had hours of laugh, frustration, desperation, and the pride of achievement. Monkey Island is the story of a guy who wants to become a pirate. Once he became one, he traveled the sea, met the love of his life, and his worst enemy. I know it sounds cheesy, and the game is cheesy, but a good kind of cheesy.

    When you play MI, you have to always expect the unexpected, and learn that the simplest most obvious answer or solution can sometimes be THE solution. In other words, if it gets to complicated, you are the one making it complicated for yourself. Try, try, try, never stop trying, and you will find what you are looking for where you less expect it. Do not think that because two ideas have never been associated with eachother, it means that they cannot be associated and related.

    Those above were the top live lessons that I got from the game. Specially the last one, because as a designer I try to be open to new ideas, and never think that something is impossible.
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      Jan 28 2012: I have heard of this game, and I heard a lot of people enjoyed it. Thankyou for sharing :) There are a few games that stood out with the same lessons you've stated, one especially is the Kings Quest series. Sometimes the most simple solution evades us!
  • Jan 28 2012: The Civilization series. I was first exposed to Civilization 2 in 6th grade, and I have no doubt that it's had a huge effect on developing my mind. It's themes have directly cultivated my interests in political philosophy, history and geography- while managing scarce resources, strategizing for long-term goals and compromising with other nations developed my overall cognitive skills. Also, taking an active part of "history" developed innate confidence of leadership, as well as a more idealistic viewpoint of history (which is partly why I'm now drawn to TED- things don't have to be how they've been, WE can change history!)
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      Jan 28 2012: Civilization opened my mind too. I think you said it all!
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    Jan 28 2012: I'm coming back to nominate Far Cry 2. It is perhaps the purest game-as-art example I know. Outwardly it's a plain old manshooting game, but it's something more.

    The game masterfully blends the detritus of a forgotten conflict with the gorgeous savannah, savage, amoral fighting with moments of kindness and humanity. Even the parts of the game that are not so good serve to emphasise the unspoken themes of the game: the checkpoints respawn as soon as you get a few hundred metres away from them, which is annoying, but so what? You just kill them all over again. More faceless bodies thrown into an endless war with no beginning.

    Explicity, Far Cry 2 explores the existence of violence and its application. The antagonist, The Jackal, says:

    "You can't break a man the way you do a dog or a horse, the harder you beat a man, the taller he stands. To break a man's will, to break his spirit, you have to break his mind. Men have this idea that we can fight with dignity, that there's a proper way to kill someone. It's absurd, its aesthetic, we need it to endure the bloody horror of murder. You must destroy that idea, show them what a messy horrible thing it is to kill a man, and then show them that you relish in it. Shoot the wound, and then execute the wounded, burn them, take them in close combat. Destroy their preconceptions of what a man is and become their personal monster. When they fear you, you become stronger, you become better. But let's never forget, it's a display, it's a posture, like a lions roar, or a gorilla thumping at his chest. If you lose yourself in the display, if you succumb to the horror, then you become the monster. You become reduced, not more than a man, but less. And it could be fatal."

    There is a better, fuller write-up for Far Cry 2 at http://infovore.org/archives/2008/12/22/africa-wins-again , but I implore all of you to try it for yourselves. It can be had cheap on Steam. Sometimes it's a difficult game to like, but it's an easy game to respect.
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    Jan 28 2012: There are games that can affect your mentality and life course like no books or movies can. what you get from some games is not a meaning, is not a concept and is not something you can express in words, you don't know what it is exactly but playing the game you are no longer the same.

    HARDLINE is a very old video game and the whole story is played in real filmed scenes. it has such an effect on me. the game hero had an evil brother that was just a brain connected to a computer network, he was called 0-ECK (aka DECK) ... if I try to put in words, game gave me feeling of love, value and fragility of life, power of dreams, an image of peace ...

    the other game I had such feelings in is BLADE RUNNER , the game allowed the hero to spend some time in his apartment alone, moments of peace and harmony , you could get in your terrace and enjoy the Vangelis music with saxophone while observing the modern crowded city with advertisements from a height.

    Shadow of destiny was a game I loved because it constantly showed me the effect of my decisions on the outcomes I faced... some decisions led to destinies you could no longer recover from just like real life, but the game allowed me to go back from a saved moment and choose another path which was sad because I knew you don't have such luxury in life and life if considered a game is a very serious one to play.
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    Jan 28 2012: As a young teenager playing a Warcraft III custom game called WinterMaul, I learned that income can be purchased. The question is: which resource do we purchase it with?

    In WinterMaul, you start with a recurring income that you can use to buy monsters that attack your opponents, but that's not all: buying a monster increases your income. There's a variety of monsters, with different costs and different income increases that don't always correlate. The point is: the higher your income, the more monsters you can buy; the more monsters you buy, the higher your income becomes.

    You spend money on either buildings, spells, or monsters. If you neglect your buildings, your opponent will overwhelm your defenses. Spells are a one-off move that is generally a bad investment, but can get you out of a tight spot. And if you neglect spending your money on monsters, then you'll fall behind on income and ultimately lose the race.

    Because it is a race: an income race, to see who can balance their spending in the most effective manner.

    Porting this to the real world, I can see that having a job, where you're spending time in exchange for one-off return of money, is generally a bad investment --like a spell in WinterMaul. Time is the scarce resource in our lives. Having read other comments, I noticed and played a game called Passage, for the first time. Time is scarce, and we are here for a short time.

    Instead of getting a job like my peers, I decided to build businesses that I could automate. Once automated, I could walk away from one and build another. And another. And another. The idea was that I could retire over, say, 10 years, right? Well, I just turned 23 and I'm on the verge of retirement. I plan on "retiring" on or before my next birthday.

    The key is: you can *buy* income, whether it be by spending money on advertising a product or service that you've made, or spending time at a job, one after the other until time runs out.

    That's one game I've learned from.
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      Jan 28 2012: I play a similar income game on Starcraft Broodwar. I have been -slowly- learning these lessons about long-term investment. Thankyou so much for your input and now I will be thinking about it even more seriously.
  • Jan 28 2012: City Connection was the first video game I played - it changed the course of my life by addicting me to video games. The courses of my post-secondary education and my career were entirely defined by that addiction.

    Doom (1 and 2) cemented my relationships with some of my best friends (though I had already met them electronically via BBSes). Nothing like a multiplayer fragfest in the same room as the other players to let you get to know them.
  • Jan 28 2012: Civilization Series of Video Games were definite learning experiences. They expose in a dynamic way the geopolitics at play in the 'real' world.
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    Jan 28 2012: Wow, so many great comments. I've never owned a console so I've only every played PC games. I have found some addictive and had to give them up, sometimes with great difficulty (like deleting and then buying back the same game 4 times!) and was so surprised to find that I had an addictive side to my personality. I'm very logical and a bit of a loner so I found games like the SIMS and Second Life extremely boring, but anything requiring problem solving is great. My favourite now is the Richocet series of games - puzzling combined with eye-hand skills. Wonderful. Sorry, no life-changing events for me, but I do understand aspects of my personality more now. It's taken a long time - I'm 58!
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      Jan 28 2012: I learned this lesson about myself from purchasing games. I would buy games and never play them. Now when I buy games I think, "What do I want to get better at?" and then I selectively pick one game. Addiction rears its ugly head in all aspects of life and it's fantastic that you recognized it and did something about it.
    • Jan 30 2012: Might I suggest taking a look at the Professor Layton series if you're into puzzles.
  • Jan 28 2012: I would like to mention The Elder Scrolls series. In each game (be it Morrowind, Oblivion or Skyrim) you begin as an outlaw, prisoner, but you evolve and end up being the savior of a province. It made me think a lot about my role in the society - who do I want to be - a hero or a regular guy. It's a great game.
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      Jan 28 2012: I have been enjoying Skyrim but haven't thought about it that way before. I realize I spend a LOT of time making my character 'look awesome' and when given the choice I always create a character that is better at stealth. This might reflect something that I haven't even considered yet.
      • Jan 29 2012: You know what, I have always been a stealth as well, but recently it occurred to me that this style reflected my own lifestyle: avoiding danger, attacking from behind and escaping when things go wrong. I realize that it' going to sound weird, but switching to a tank-type character changed the way I perceive real world. Facing things and dealing with them in an open battle gives me much more freedom and courage. In the game you have to take control of your character's "life", or the system takes over and he becomes weak and miserable. This was one of the factors that made me take control of my own life. Can't believe I'm sharing this...
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          Jan 29 2012: Believe it. I used to only use magic because it kept me the farthest away from characters. I lacked confidence to get close to them and felt much safer in the back of a room. This is also how i approached life now that I think about it. It seems the 'Paladin' role that has come up a lot in these conversations carries the most influence, and it is a role I am still working at filling.
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          Jan 29 2012: Intersting point, Tyne and Andrey, I admit that I can also relate to what you write.

          In RPGs I always play as a wizard, in shooters I prefer sniping.
          I never gave this any thought, especially since in "the real world" I'm not that type of person.
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      Jan 29 2012: I've never felt that way about any Elder Scrolls game, or really any game that featured a sandbox world (with the exception of The Sims and Far Cry 2, and even that was sneakily linear). It's very hard to communicate any meaningful life lessons without there being limitations on you.
      • Jan 29 2012: That's true. May be that's why I stopped playing it. There is a plenty of choices in Skyrim now. There is no right or wrong way, and the Civil war questline resembles the situation in a lot of countries today. Even in my own Kazakhstan.
  • Jan 28 2012: Kingdom Hearts, especially part one. it really made u think about the lengths you would go for friendship and true love. there were themes about self confidence, perseverance, and the paths towards good and evil. at age 11 i finished this game sad the story was over for now, but i knew it would go on. the game had you care for its characters and the ending really touched a place in my heart, it let me know that no matter how bad things may seem i can have hope. watch this video of the end cinematic =D http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt-47_4H6wU . The metal gear series also had me think about corruption in the government but especially with snake eater i thought about how there are so many sides to a single story. there arent just two sides, life isnt that way. there are many sides and life isnt always black and white but shades of gray.
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      Jan 28 2012: I have been watching my friend play Kingdom Hearts and I am very interested in how it will end up. One boy is becoming a hero, the other a villain... It reminds me of the story of Naruto and Sasuke from the Japanese manga called "Naruto". I don't think this story has concluded but I can't figure out what choices I would make if I were the hero, and how would I deal with my best friend being the villain? I keep waiting for the answer because I can't yet find it myself.
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    Jan 27 2012: I played videogames all my life, i think those who challenged my perspective or woke me up were the Resident Evil series and the Metal Gear Solid series.

    Resident Evil 2 is the game that taught me you can't trust anything with the word "Corporation" in it, that whatever it is they do, despite the lives of individuals, they won't stop at anything for money.

    Although i didn't play all the Metal Gear Solid games myself, i watched my friend play the entire storyline and made the link from it's storyline "Patriots" to our reality so called "Illuminati, Free Masons, 1%" or whatever you call them, of how they plot to rule the world, how bad they are, how they use technology to reduce the population "concerns" about what they are doing so they can keep doing whatever they planned to do.

    They may have changed the perceptions i had about the world.
    However i can't say that any videogames changed the way i live.
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      Jan 28 2012: One could argue that if your perception of the world changed, so did the way you navigate it. But I think you'd know better if you were effected or not :)
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    Shean F

    • +1
    Jan 27 2012: How important friendship is, that even though we think we´re strong (& know it) there are times you can´t to everything on your own, and need to OPEN up to the people that care for you, and let them help (cloud always quiet and to himself). TEAMWORK

    It approaches death, the death of a loved one.

    You have a lot of lecture to do, to understand it, it makes you read, it’s not just about go out start your mission and kill
  • Jan 27 2012: Heavy Rain really surprised me. Especially considering that I didn't play it, per se, as my partner and I went through it together with him handling the buttons and both of us considering the decisions at key points. It was almost like playing a movie, except that you make the choices on how things proceed.

    I love it when a game forces you into a moral decision. Do you use force when interrogating someone or do you have mercy? How far are you willing to let your morality slide in order to get what you want? Do you stay loyal to 'your side' even when you realize they might not be in the right? A great game forces you to consider some serious questions about yourself and your morality.

    I just began playing Star Wars: The Old Republic and I'm loving the fact that it constantly forces you to define who your character is and what your beliefs are. The ownership I feel for my characters and their decisions is exciting, I can't wait to see where this goes.
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      Jan 28 2012: I like the idea of playing together and sharing your choices. Thankyou for your comment!
  • Jan 27 2012: I also have a lot of things that I tip my hat to regarding MMORPGs. The first one I played was a game called The Realm when I was about 14 (It was owned by Codemasters in the end...but created by Sierra). I should try to go through the lessons I learned in the order that I learned them...

    First - in starting an MMO, you are indistinguishable, much like in real life. The more noise you make, the less likely you are to be listened to. You are forced to go out into the world and make your own way - by doing tasks for others (largely NPCs), and by gradually accumulating what you need to survive the first wave of monsters (weapons, armour, or spells).

    Gradually, you meet people on the road. You stop to chat to them, you exchange strategies if you're on the same level, and because you don't look like you're one of the noob mob anymore, the higher levels sometimes take you in - give you advice and/or equipment which help you to advance, or you join a guild which does things together for the betterment of all. The way you communicate becomes increasingly important, more important than your actual worth. You demonstrate the kind of person you are through written speech, and from there, you move further from your starting point.

    Eventually, you are at the semi-top of the food chain, and there are a few ways that you can spend your time there - deliberately helping those below you, spending your time exclusively with your own class, or opening yourself up to people who will stoop and swagger near you in hopes that you will help them. You can also manipulate the political situation on the server - which guilds are in conflict and at peace, etc.

    All of these stages of life I've incorporated into my own philosophy - and whatever else might be said about MMORPGs, I believe they have taught me some valuable lessons about life and communication through an online metaphor of life.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thankyou for the great example! I always appreciated the help I would get from anonymous helpers. These people would join my game, walk me through and give me new equipment as I leveled up... then suddenly they would be gone. Off to help someone else. I became an anonymous helper instantly and began to do the same thing. Now I do this in all of my online gaming. I am helpful and spend a lot of time teaching people how to play.
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    Jan 27 2012: Just wanted to post to say that I love this conversation... the two I would cite are definitely the Metal Gear series and Final Fantasy 7 and 8, but they have been eloquently described already by others :)
  • Jan 27 2012: I go back to Atari days, so things like River Ride, Pitfall, Montezuma... then long nights on on Amigas Lemings or Monkey Island,Bomber Man where you could play 5 people with a joystick adapter(that was something) Nintendos Mario 3 and Tiny Toons... but something that I can say that really touched me I think was one of my first games on a PC... Betrayal at Krondor... That game showed me the story ... and how one can imerse onself in a story. Not only that but the game was based on a Remdy E. Feist books like Magician and Darkness at Sathanon. When i got the game it was about the time that i was starting to get heavily into the books and their magical world. I think to this day I look for such story involvement in games as i felt playing that game. I think it shaped my ideas about as well as a slight obsession with a good story, not only in games,movies ... but life in general, crativity. Unfortunetly it is rare that I find it nowdays. Its kind of funny ... I never finished the game. In chapter 7 or so you find this statue that can kill anything with one blow ... and you dont know how many times you can use it. Also there are I think 3 or 4 of these demons in the game that you cant kill with anything but the statue. And I used it up and got stuck on the last demon in the game in the last fight. I spent about 2 hours trying to kill that demon. Literly freezing it and bashing and freezing and i could have gone for another 2 hours couse my characters were so pumped up. Good times :D
  • Jan 27 2012: I have to put a vote in for Metal Gear Solid. I don't know of any other videogames that have a plot focus on nuclear proliferation, military contractors, and the ethical dilemmas of cloning. I also don't know of any other videogames where you can use a porno mag to distract a guard then shove them in a locker, but if you put the zaniness aside it works as a strange , fictional intro into real issues that we are facing today.

    Oh and Tyne....from Balamb Garden? Nice touch.
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    Jan 27 2012: 7 years ago I begun playing WoW because my hours at work left little time to do anything during "normal business hours". I have since played Aion and Rift as I am attracted to RPG MMO games because of the individual and group interaction as well as the community building. l quickly learned that we cannot judge who we think does what in the world. RPG MMO's offer a broader perception on how possible it is to make ideas work with others around the world and at one stage when I considered "Gamers" to have little communicative skill I discovered playing RPG MMO games that there is many different ways of communicating to accomplish a task.

    This challenged all my perceptions of technology and sent me on a path of exploring digital arts, online entrepreneurship, multimedia creativity and I have come to respect the artistic vision of those who create 3D Models (etc) opening my eyes to infinite forms of Art and Creativity which is my ultimate passion.

    On my being a woman gamer it could be frustrating if we enjoy conquering content especially as there is a cliche that all female players get everything for free which I have noticed or those guys pretending to be girls lol I also came to understand how very real our characters, how we play, what our priorities are and who we enjoy gaming with reflects our priorities as people so gaming gives us an opportunity to see how we learn and grow intellectually when we can apply what we enjoy. Perhaps my cliche was starting as a Priest, Mage, Shaman and Druid enjoying similar roles in Rift and Aion but that's what I love about gaming and also in life. Getting the opportunity to make the expected extra exceptional.
  • Jan 27 2012: Although it hasn't been a huge impact on my life overall, I think GTAIV challenged my perception of video games as an art form. After completing the game's main story line I was (after getting over the awe) confused as to how this world and these characters could draw me in so closely when such a vast majority of film and television can be dull and uninspiring. So I certainly have adjusted my methods of comparison for games and other media since.

    In addition to this, and even having never played games like World Of Warcraft, the talks and books by Jane McGonigal have been fairly eye-opening as to how I think I have thought about games since I was very young - much of what she says resonates with myself and my friends.

    I used to be wary of telling people how much I enjoyed playing games, but now (age and a new partner are factors) I am able to clearly state that I am a gamer, it is part of my identity. I don't think i've had many single major life-changing experiences in the digital world (so apologies if this seems off topic), but all the little ones across a whole wealth of games add up to define part of my character. I can recognize the 'urgent optimism' I feel when attempting a challenging task, and that my game playing is very often a yearning for more satisfying work, not just a distraction from 'real life'. Hope that all makes sense.

    And would just to add I liked Pablo Barrera's point on AoE 2, I have found strategy games such as this and the Command & Conquer series have certainly given me a confidence in managing my resources and beating the odds.
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      Jan 28 2012: "I can recognize the 'urgent optimism' I feel when attempting a challenging task, and that my game playing is very often a yearning for more satisfying work, not just a distraction from 'real life'."

      I understand what you mean. When gaming feels to me like a waste of time or a distraction I don't play those games. So when I am gaming I am not idle. I am learning.
  • Jan 27 2012: Role playing games are usually the games where you learn something, or at least makes you think with there complex stories. For me its Tales of Symphonia, a game with lots of layers. Some of the topics in the game are: racial discrimination, religion, survival and wealth of a planet at the cost of another planet, sacrifice of one person for the good of others, getting power at the cost of someone's life, treason, and never giving up in finding an answer where everybody wins. As you can see there are a lot of ethical questions, as well as complex issues. At the end, it depends on each one of us if we filter that subliminal or subtle information, do some thinking about it and apply it to real life.
  • Jan 27 2012: This conversation seems like it should only apply for RPGs and the like where you play as a character who has more freedom than the NPCs to do as you please.

    When I played MMORPGs, I mostly abided by my own morals in the game exactly as I would outside the game. For example: making fair trades and fair exchanges of services. Also when in Player vs. Player settings I would tend to not attack others if I did not want any trouble myself, which is all sort of a golden rule scenario.

    Other games which changed a lot for me were Portal and 007 Goldeneye.

    Portal for one really challenged how we think of conventional physics and add a lot of "What If" situations in real life, had you had a portal gun.

    Goldeneye, not really life-changing but really paved the way for multiplayer gaming.
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      Jan 28 2012: I also abide by my own morals while gaming. This is why I get frustrated over team-betrayal during online experiences. It reminds me that there are people out there who do not mind working against you.
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    Jan 27 2012: TETRIS!

    Tetris easily surpasses every other game I played in terms of impact on life. Looking back, it's the first time I would actively line things up in a grid (which is huge in terms of being able to design anything, let alone pack a suitcase or organize a closet).

    Because of its ubiquity when I was a kid (it was came with the original Gameboy, was available on most computers, and, via a handy cable, was on everyone's Texas Instruments calculator), lots of very odd debates emerged about what was considered winning; hi-score, the level you reached/lines you cleared, or the length of time you played. Everyone had their own opinion of what it was to win the game and all of those opinions still worked together and no one was either right or wrong.

    How awesome was it that everyone could disagree about what winning Tetris was, all be correct, and be ok with everyone else's differing opinions because, in the frame of the game, they all made sense even if you didn't agree?
  • Jan 27 2012: Everquest 2

    Being part of both very high end and causal guildsI have witnessed the rise and fall of several guildsfrom greed, sabatoge, cliques, seperation of have and have nots - not to unlike the rise and fall of civilizations. The anonymity the game allows this process to be hastened as individuals rarely curb their emotions, bringing a heightened awareness of the caste system that lies in a guild and on a server.

    Any MMO could provide a social psychologist a lifetime of a subject worthy of study.

    I also have to acknowledge Everquest 2 for my marriage. I met my husband on the game 4 years before we actually met and married. I had scoffed at the marriages that were based on an MMO but now I am not so sure! I think people within the game gravitate to others with the same moral grounding, constructs and views as they possess. It can result in amazingly dynamic long-term relationships that might not otherwise be obtainable due to social standing, geography, disability, or other causes.
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      Jan 28 2012: I agree. I have a severe anxiety which disabled me from experiencing groups of people in a positive way. I had never experienced a sense of community or teamwork until I played Starcraft online.
  • Jan 27 2012: I like a good story in a game just as much as I like a good book or movie. That said, there are a few stories that rise above the others. The latest deus ex game raises a lot of serious questions, the whole plot revolves around a company that can create bionic limbs etc, enhancing humans, and it discusses if this is just evolution or violation of humans. We ae far from there now, but at the current pace of technology, we will have to cross that bride some day, and try to define what it means being human. Thought it was quite interesting.
  • Jan 27 2012: I would have to thank Retro Studios and their Metroid Prime Series, specifically Metroid Prime II: Echoes. For those unfamiliar, the Metroid series tells the story (SPOILERS) of Samus Aran, a bounty hunter, as she travels across the galaxy, saving worlds from Space Pirates and Dark Samus, the heroine's counterpart. In the second instillation of Prime, Samus travels to Aether, a world rent in half, one 'normal' planet, and 'Dark Aether' - the opposite of the light world, where even the air kills. The game boasts many good vs. evil motifs, and the parasitic Ing enemies, who must infect creatures of the light Aether to survive, question what it means to be really human. And as they massacre a troop of Galatic Federation (GF) soldiers - the good guys - brutality and mercy are brought up, as in many other first-person shooters.

    But what really struck me, that I had no idea until recently, is that as Samus goes through all of the combat, victories, losses, destruction, and horrors, she is always alone. Sure, there are side characters, those that tell Samus of her next mission, and in the third Prime, she is helped throughout much of the game by the GF and other bounty hunters. But for most, if not all of the game(s), Samus is alone. And while that proves her bravery, to fight bosses and do things no one else can, she always ends the game alone, flying off by herself.

    As I played the games, I thought nothing of it. Sometimes allies only hinder you - in the third game (SPOILER), your once-allies actually turn against you. But much later, after I had beaten the game(s) and thought of replaying, I remembered this feeling. To go through so much, and be alone, unable to share anything. The games are beautiful at times, with amazing landscapes, intricate puzzles, and stunning enemies. But with whom do you share those experiences? That thought REALLY struck me to the core. I came to realize that I don't want to live my life alone like that. I want someone to share life with.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thankyou. It really seems pointless all on your own.
  • Jan 27 2012: Super Smash Brothers Melee
    The melee community both on the global and local level is possibly the most diverse, nicest and smartest (genuine kindness and true proper intelligence go hand-in-hand really) I've ever been involved in or had the joy of seeing. The community grew up in the backyards of friends of friends, before any online or gaming craze ever hit the waves. Naturally, you had to learn to 'get along' and love each other as best friends across the map if you only ever could meet and play in a face-to-face bases.

    The games tournaments and events are hosted by the players, places coming from across the country/world provide housing for each other, and places to stay, venues to play, and food to eat, and rides from airports to hotels to wherever. Nobody has much money or the input of sponsors and providers, it's run by the kids from any age and environment who just want to have fun and get together to play a challenging and friendly opponent.

    It's an old game so it's cheap to play and one of the most advanced games to date, by far. Always something to learn and so much brain-work playing alone makes people better in general. It's the best analogy to life I've ever had towards helping others with anything. Everyone who plays this game can relate to life with each other more than anyone else because of the game. It's like a miniature global world beneath the 'other' one for a lot of people, and always will be, because after 12 years, it's stronger than ever and growing still. Melee will never die, the community will always be there.
  • Jan 27 2012: I totally agree with most of the games people have mentioned. I mean Sims 3 made me realize some really subtle things which many times you just don't pay attention to in life. For example, how a more expensive/comfy bed can actually influence the hours of sleep that you need in order to feel refreshed! But if I was to add another game into this mix it would probably have to be Bioshock. I don't want mention spoilers or anything, but that reveal close to the end has actual implications in life. It makes you think about your objectives, why you do things and who you really are. Also, Dragon Age and Mass Effect, which made me realize how fundamental some decisions are in shaping your life story in general.
  • Jan 27 2012: (My second story)

    Within the last year, I played through Fable III (SPOILER ALERT), which is obviously the third in a series of fantasy role-playing games that have the added twist of a meta game (where in addition to roaming the countryside, killing monsters, you own property, get married, become king, rule and make decisions about how you will treat people and how you will govern).

    My play style in any game like this that provides moral choices is to play a paragon of good-- and, invariably, this leads me to the most rewarding outcome. In other words, most games of this design have a logical progression along this path-- make all the Good choices, achieve the Good ending/outcome of the game. Fable III however, forces the player into a counter-moral situation-- where there is no option that will let the good player conclude the game with everyone else happy with them-- so the player is forced to choose between two bad options. I found the experience jarring-- it wasn't the result of some earlier mistake I had made-- I had done everything right, and yet this no-win moral dilemma arose-- and the resulting outcome was regretful, but unavoidable.

    I saw how much my concern for being perceived as "Good" drove me. It does this a lot in my life, as well-- where I always want to find win-win situations and, sometimes, there aren't any immediately available. And, when that happens, it's also not the end of the world. Even the loss of half of the population of your kingdom is not the end of the kingdom. That had a big impact on me and how I view my own personal drive to being "Good".
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      Jan 27 2012: "I saw how much my concern for being perceived as "Good" drove me." This is an excellent quote. Deep down I feel responsible for the choices I make when offered a moral dilemma in a game. Then when I'm really into it I find myself shouting out apologies if I accidentally get an innocent stuck in my chain lightning.
    • Jan 28 2012: Spoiler Alert, though the game is about a year old at this point

      I also had the same impact from Fable 3. I completed the first half of the game on the side of good, promising my allies that i would right the wrongs my oppressive brother forced upon the citizens of his kingdom. Once i overthrew him and learned of what was to happen, the moral dilemma arose. Should i keep my promises, make my people happy for the year, and not have enough money to raise an army to stop the invasion, or should i sacrifice the happiness of my subjects and betray my allies in order to have enough capital to build an army to save everyone in my kingdom. Happy citizens who were doomed or pissed off downtrodden citizens who were going to survive the invasion.

      Needless to say, having to make the moral decision really stuck with me for quite a while.
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    Jan 26 2012: I don't know if any games have ever changed my life, but a lot of the games created by Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Red Dead Redemption) contain some great satire and commentary on all sorts of issues.

    It was the first time I came across games that contain a relevant message, idea or 'layers' beyond the simple storyline/gameplay.
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    Jan 25 2012: I'd like to bring up another point, if I may, namely games that do not radically changed one's life, but do ask interesting questions.

    A good example is Braid. If you've played it you know that it's pretty difficult to collect all the stars in order to get to the surprise ending. When you finally manage to reach the princess you thought you were saving it turns out you were the bay guy all along. The parallel to the creation of the atom bomb - that can be more or less interpreted within the story - is also very interesting.
    • Jan 26 2012: "it turns out you were the bay guy all along."

      Did you mean "bad guy"? Just want to make sure, I'm not familiar with the game.

      Sounds like a very incredible ending....if you end up being the bad guy.

      What did you do?
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    Jan 25 2012: Civilization, the original... Taught me... "It's the economy stupid".

    Final Fantasy 2 3 and 7 all told me a beautiful story with complex moral lessons, and moved me away from the quick twitch gameplay oriented video game experience, and towards the storytelling aspect. A brilliant use of the medium.

    Portal taught me that dialogue, can make a game with only 2 buttons, where no one dies, fascinating, and fun to play.
  • Jan 25 2012: Recently Infamous 2 made me think for a really long time after I finished my first play-through. One of the in-game systems is a morality meter, which, in and of itself, is pretty broken. As you do more "evil" things, you progress along a certain track unlocking "evil" abilities, and "good" abilities for appropriate deeds. The two poles operate on the same scale and so you can't level up both types of abilities, leading to a player fairly quickly picking and sticking to one path or the other. I think that's silly. On the other hand...

    There are supporting characters who you follow corresponding to either "good" or "evil" actions. Because the upgrades looked more appealing and the side-missions easier, I did an evil runthrough first. *spoiler* Regardless of who you follow, the last mission will require you to change allegiances, because the logically correct act is not the humane one. Being "evil" in this case meant turning against someone who had helped me all along and it was terrible. It's a simple moral, told countless times in other mediums, but in this game, after 15-20 hours adjusting to a specific set of goals based on leveling up and not on if I was "doing the right thing," I felt like a monster because I found I had become sympathetic to the "evil" supporting character.

    Rarely have I felt so much sympathy for a fictional character.

    Also, playing it through the second time seemed like a no-brainer so I could see the alternate ending where I instead betray the "good" supporting character. It turns out the play-style from the "good" abilities changes the game entirely, allowing quicker movement and less all-out attack. It was worth playing twice. If you were wondering, the "good" character garners much less sympathy.
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      Jan 25 2012: Thanks for the reply. It's an odd feeling when your heart is tugging at you during game play and I sympathize with you being forced to go against your will! There are some similar moments in the Dragon Age series where I befriend a certain character only to find out it's pre-determined that I will kill them. I was very forgiving towards party members who treated me well or appeared to follow the same moral standards I have. I appreciated the party members and acquaintances on both the evil and good spectrum as well :)
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    Jan 24 2012: Well for me the game that did the trick is a third person Role Playing Game called Diablo II. I absolutely loved my role in it as a mighty Paladin and spent endless days and maybe months playing the game. The basic principle of this is mouse clicking until you develop carpal tunnel syndrome or kill off all your demons. Nevertheless I somehow managed to finish it on all levels and acquire all sorts of weird, rare and powerful items that made me both happy and proud.

    How did this game challenge my perspective?

    Upon completion of all the wonderful tasks and acquisition of power, fame, admiration and virtual objects I came to the realisation that none of these mattered. Nothing that happens within a virtual world has or has had any impact on my real life. All the power concentrated in the game did not represent anything more than bits moving on my hard drive in the physical world. This was the game that taught me that spending a vast amount of your life in a virtual environment really contributes to disengaging you from what really matters. It showed to me what I should try to avoid becoming in the future and allowed me to concentrate on activities that cause me emotion within and about the real world and not a virtual fantasy world. I do not deny the necessity of gaming, but I do acknowledge its power to render you less human.
    • Jan 25 2012: I would respectfully ask that you consider your own comment on a grander scale than "a lesson learned in a videogame" and "a lesson learned from videogames." What I mean to say is that I wholly agree with you when you saying that accruing "power, fame, admiration, and [...] objects," is empty in and of itself and that there are indeed more interesting and fulfilling things in life, but that resolution need not only apply to actions in virtual worlds.

      Framing the argument differently, let's look at the way a designer would envision play in an open-ended sandbox type game. First, the mechanics of the world have to be defined (engine), then a context (story arc of some kind), and then somes personalization (leveling and avatar modifying). Without some kind of attachment to the game persona, the player would be unlikely to want to spend any time in an unguided, albeit maybe pretty, computer world. Investing your time leveling a character creates attachment. By adding personalization, developers facilitate a bond that will continue until it is worn out, usually by finishing the game in some kind of god-like state. If the road to perfection leaves you feeling empty, it could be because of a number of things. First, because perfection is not humanly attainable and so is irrelevant to you. Second, gathering trinkets and wealth does not actually lead to fulfillment. Third, the enjoyment was in the journey to the end-game, not in "ending." I can't think of any philosopher or theologian who could summarize life in such an impactful way.

      Videogames are a medium of entertainment, and that can involve engrossing, mind expanding stories and mechanics. Most of what you do in the real world has no meaning either. Nor does what I do. Finding things that stimulate growth is always the most important activity - following any other path will "render you less human." Maybe pick up another videogame?
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      Jan 25 2012: I also played hours of Diablo2 without gaining much insight or life experience. Your answer is not what I expected but it demonstrates valuable insight towards what we do with the time we spend and what we feel about how we are spending it.
  • Jan 24 2012: Similar to you I really got a lot out of the Final Fantasy series. For me it was Final Fantasy III although VII is up there as well. In 3 its a similar game concept but the world was under threat by the Empire and its leader (the Emperor of course!). But about halfway through the game you actually find its the Emperor's right hand man Kefka who is the mastermind behind the evil of the world and your quest turns to working with your friends to defeat him. At the halfway point I mentioned Kefka kills the Emperor himself and causes an apocalyptic disaster that reshapes the face if the world, killing people and scattering your party across the "globe". You spend the last half of the game reuniting your group of characters, solving problems caused by Kekfa's apocalypse and ultimately trying to destroy him.

    Out of all this it made me think about the notions of good and evil, and how the root causes of a lot of problem might not be what it initially appears to be (eg Kefka being the true evil behind the Emperor). It also makes you think about the people around you (your "party") and how important it is to appreciate their diverse abilities, styles, personalities, etc. without the combination of different character skills in the game you wouldn't be able to defeat Kefka in the end. Finally it reminds you about perseverance no matter how bad things get. Sounds very profound and clearly "it's just a game" but you're right that there are lessons that people take away from them.

    Great topic. Looking forward to reading other people's comments.
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    Feb 16 2012: Tetris.
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    Feb 14 2012: I enjoyed following Jane McGonigal's "Super Struct" game that enabled crowdsourcing through gaming to solve world problems - it got me thinking about all of the things that gaming could help us resolve if we were to collaborate through gamificiation. My understanding is that she is releasing a new game called "Super Better" focused on improving your health in a similar format.
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    Feb 13 2012: Not a one. I never took them that serious... except for the tendonitis I have from repetive button slamming action!
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    Feb 11 2012: games ask difficult questions. Mass effect 2 was a huge one. in the game, there is a character called "legion" (i think, might be wrong). He is a member of an artificial race of beings called "the Geth" (stay with me here).

    one a side mission in the game, you learn that there are 2 sides to the geth, 2 religious factions. their programming was a few 0's and 1's different from each other in the beginning due to a programming error (of which side you don't know) and a religious war between the 2 factions of geth had broken out.

    after a few shooting bits, you end up at a console. you have the option of changing the programming of the geth so that the programming is corrected without them even realising or you can destroy them.

    It asks the question, what if you could have you view changed, something that you are willing to die for in a second. so that say for the argument that you would meet a past version of yourself and want to kill each other.

    very hard one indeed. but thats why i like games, they ask very hard questions and reveal things about yourself rather than teach you a lesson... that what an interactive experience is made for! (that and fun!)
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    • Feb 7 2012: Me too. Final Fantasy VII. But not in so many words.

      My take was on the protagonist's perspective. Never in a game was a character made more true to life.
      Cloud Strife changed with the story. At first he was cocky, then later he regretted an event in the story and then he resolves it.

      I came to a conclusion about Life:
      Your story is about your trials(strife), how you choose to get through them, and what you become in the end.

      I hope I resolve all that I regret in the end.
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    Feb 2 2012: VIDEO GAMES KEEP YOU YOUNG, as you will see in this great video of a 100 year old woman and her love of the Nintendo DS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nawe7F8cZ_U&list=UU3cC3fqGreVygtVtfGIRDGg&index=1&feature=plcp
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    Jan 31 2012: I've played a few video games in my life from the character based "Adventure" game back in the late 70's to modern 3D virtual reality games such as "Second Life". The only video game that has ever held my attention over a extended period of time is the game "Command and Conquer". With regard to "challenging my perspective on the way I live my life." I honestly can't say video games have challenged my perspective on the way I live my life.

    Amanda
  • Jan 31 2012: The Sims. I've learned that if I fulfil my basic needs, have lots of fun and social/woohoo time, I can achieve total happiness and if not, I can just use a cheat code to get there. Also, one must avoid any pool with a removable ladder at all cost. haha, I jest.
  • Jan 30 2012: Microsoft Flight Simulator ...
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      Jan 30 2012: I had a lot of quiet and enjoyable times with that game.
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    Jan 29 2012: i pondered this for several moments. none have profoundly canged my perspectives or life other than spending too much time playing some games.

    agree interesting dynamics between players on mmo games. but nothing more than innate behaviours exxagerated by grup dynamics and relative anominity.
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    Jan 28 2012: one has to be very suspicious and vigilant when it comes to learning from a video game. same as popular movies btw.

    what is more entertaining, in the easy, recreational sense of the word? teaching you something that really needs to be taught? or reinforcing your already existing views with easy to believe arguments, visual treat or mesmerizing atmosphere? what sells more copies? challenging a widespread misconception, or vocalizing the majority opinion? would you make a game about misunderstandings between different cultures or the illuminati taking over? reality is often not entertaining enough to make its way into popular media.

    granted, you can learn from movies, video games and novels. but be wary not to buy ideological homeopathy.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thankyou. I was looking more for a personal experience response, but I agree that one can learn from all sources.
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    Jan 28 2012: Blitz Ball FTW!
  • Jan 27 2012: A bit old school, but I think Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar really helped me reflect on the constituent elements of leading a virtuous life.
  • Jan 27 2012: There are so many and mostly in context. An example: BioShocks "New world" with in many ways, correlates to very real ideas Peter Thiel has about floating cities.

    Portal 2, Limbo etc. They all add up small things.
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    Jan 25 2012: PONG !!
    OK so that dates me. You really have to imagine what the world was like before that game came along. All electronic devices simply received data. Radios, television, etc. Unless you had access to military or two-way radios like that CB radio.
    When we figured out we could control the data that was being inputted into the device the entire realm of possibilities exploded. Then it was somewhat humiliating that the stupid game could win...
    • Jan 26 2012: I was thinking Pac Man....LOL That's about the only game around when I was, oh never mind.

      I came on here thinking, "I'll bet it's an all boys conversation"...and yet here you are.

      I have a son, and I often wonder what kind of effects video games can have on him.

      We've never purchased any.

      I am learning quite a bit from reading all the entries.

      Very interesting, I am pleasantly surprised.

      Nice question Tyne!
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        Jan 26 2012: Mary, yes this is definitely not an all boys question! < Female. Games are as addictive as they are rewarding. If you choose to expose your son to these games (something that will happen at his friends house eventually) feel free to find some fun math games for the computer. Treasure Math Storm is the first game I played (its from the 90s) and from it I learned how to read clocks! For some reason I just couldn't figure it out on paper, but because I was so focused and willing to win this game I was feverish to learn how to read them. :)
      • Jan 27 2012: When parents get a little involved in this videogame culture parents get the basic knowledge that helps them to give advice to the kids on what games are better to play. An even keep them away from games with excessive violence. I was an arcade videogame player in the 70s and even the 90s, when my son turned 6 and started playing videogames i got involved. And i influenced him to focus on games that make you think a lot and the level of violence and blood is low
        • Jan 27 2012: As a teacher, I know that video games, of any kind, can have a detremental effect on students. Especially boys. But it's not just video games, it's cartoons as well. Let me explain:

          I remember one of my first grade students imitating a kick he saw in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons during recess.....want to know what happened? He kicked a girl so hard in her private parts, we had to call an ambulance to rush her to a hospital.

          Also, I can always tell when a child plays video games excessively....he has difficulty payiing attention in class. He gets hyper.....and can't stay with his eyes focused on still objects for too long of a time.

          Time and again at parent conferences I have found myself educating parents on the consequences of excessive video game playing. Seems like they trade in the peace and quiet they enjoy because their kid is locked up in a room, for their child's well being.

          I am very sensitive to this issue. I guess that is why we have never purchase a DS or Nintendo or anything else for my children. We do however own a $25 PacMan game you plug into the TV, it contains DigDoug and 4 or 5 other simple games. They'll play with it until the battery runs out, then we let 3 or 4 months pass until we buy new ones and play again. We all play, including my husband and I.

          We prefer board games....chess, scrabble, Rumikube, Life, Monopoly, checkers.etc..

          Thank you Roberto for your comment. Continue taking an interest in your son's games, it will pay off in the future.

          Best advice I give parents: "What you are shouts so loudly in your child's ears, they cannot hear what you're saying". Your example is everything. Talk is cheap.
        • Jan 27 2012: Wait, let me just add that that's why this conversation is so amazing to me. I am seeing video games in a whole other light.

          Again, thank you Tyne!!
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          Jan 27 2012: It will be interesting to see what happens with the generation of gamers (current 18 to 30 year olds) having played with many mature adults, parents playing with sons or daughters overseas especially military. Also now that so much is online. It can be very distracting only if the offline world is less interesting and with kids as quick learning as they are these days it would be a challenge for sure but I appreciate parents who can take the time, continue to encourage healthy living knowing there are also many who have come to see the computer as the new babysitter which is saddening.
        • Jan 28 2012: I just want to respond to Mary here. I'm not sure that its just cartoons and/or video games specifically: wouldn't your situation likely extend to all forms of violent media? Additionally, I'm not sure its the video games that cause children to be hyper in your classes. It's very possible that video games appeal to these kids more than other because they have shorter attention spans to begin with, and thus the gamers are self-selected. My parents were very anti-video game during my upbringing. But, that never stopped me and only made me want to play even more. It was the biggest topic of conflict in our house. Often, telling someone that they can't do something makes him or her want it even more. But, I'm happy to hear that you are playing games with your kids. I always wanted to do that with my parents, but they were never interested. I wanted to share the complexity of the games I was playing with them and show them how decisions/judgements needed to be made at any given time. I felt like they were always negative about the time I spent playing games because they didn't actually understand the games. Many people still view video games as a general waste of time or simply a newer form of a narrative. But, I can assure you that games are far more than that.

          I have always played video games--since I was four years old. Though, I have never been accused of having a short attention span. I found that the games were a way for me focus on an objective--a goal. I could practice a task, and I then was rewarded when I became proficient enough to complete the level or whatever the small goal was. Games taught me that achieving something was a process that often took many smaller steps. They taught me to think critically about the most efficient practices. I think video games are the best training a child can have for the digital future we will all have. There are many positive lessons that games can teach which cannot be learned easily elsewhere.
        • Jan 28 2012: Also Mary (and anyone else interested), if you haven't already. Check out this TED talk. See what parts are interesting to you. See if it makes you think differently about where the future is headed. https://www.ted.com/talks/gabe_zichermann_how_games_make_kids_smarter.html . I don't necessarily agree with every assertion he makes, but I think it would be worth your time if you haven't seen it already. It's actually also linked as one of the "related talks" just below the topic question.
        • Jan 28 2012: @Peter Neuman

          Thank you for your input. Yes, it is a gray area there Peter. But let me just tell you, that some parents, after a long day of work choose the path of least resistance and allow the kids to play for hours upon hours of video games. No homework, no bath, next day....out of focus.....this of course is an extreme. It is only after I see certain patterns of behavior that I will call a parent in. Usually I descreetly speak with the whole class and get the 411 on their habits. They will easily share. Then little by little I hone in on the student who concerns me the most. Time and again, after gently prodding a parent to 'control' the use of the video games, improvement occurs. Parents, like children, always see what they can get away with every school year. I could write a book......hmmm maybe I will.

          In all fairness, lack of focus is not the result of one particular thing, and every child is different and unique. A caring teacher who takes personal interest in each student will detect where the problem (s) lie....sometimes iit's the tv, sometimes its the video games, sometimes it's excess sugar intake first thing in the morning, and sometimes it is a clinical problem requiring psychologists/psychiatrists and/or medication. The issue is very complex.

          Thank you Peter for your experience.

          Your comment..."Often, telling someone that they can't do something makes him or her want it even more" reminded me of the following quote:

          "There are three ways to get something done: do it yourself, hire someone, or forbid your kids to do it". Unknown author
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        Jan 27 2012: Pac Man was genius. It had really good leveling algorithms, keeping the demand perfectly in concert with mastery. But more than that, the more I played, the more subtleties i noticed. Each ghost had its own distinctive movements that, if you started to pay attention, could anticipate, which made you even better. The fruit power-ups also had slight differentiations. Then there was the method of eating the pellets themselves, there was a logical, more efficient way to get them, improving your time. This I learned after failing again and again. But the life-long lessons I learned from Pac Man: Failure can be productive. Stick with something, you will improve, guaranteed. Dont get frustrated if at first you don't succeed-- sit back and enjoy, and you'll begin to see patterns emerge that will enable you to get better at your task or quest.
        • Jan 28 2012: My daughter has figured out how to eat the pellets in a logical manner, then she proceeded to show my son, who of course, already has outscored her.....personally, I do not have the patients for pac-man, but I sit and watch them. What I like is dig-dug...I figured out how to score higher by leading the monsters under rocks....I showed the method to the kids....they in turn showed it to my husband, and of course, by now they both outscore me.

          But, other than having fun family time, I still haven't learned a valueble lesson from them. I always look forward to the batteries running out, so we can get out to play.

          I'll have to ask my kids when they are older to reflect on the games and share with me if they learned anything.
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      Jan 26 2012: Linda, PONG was great. Have you any experiences with it or other video games you would like to share? I am searching for a personal story but you pose a great point! What an influential game!!!
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    Jan 25 2012: DEFCON.

    Its a simplistic strategic game for the PC (only a few years old)
    The tag line is 'everybody dies' and its about having a global nuclear war, only there isn't a 'winner', just someone who loses the least.
    I think its a good way to look at most conflicts.
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    Jan 25 2012: I think for me, it is not so much a particular game that has changed my life but rather the amount of time I spent playing with other people that have changed my life. Some of my best friendships have been strengthened by endless of hours of playing super smash bros, star wars battle front, halo, and etc. As for any game that has changed me with its story I have not played yet, although I will admit star wars kotor has made me think about the idea of good and evil and also redemption.
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      Jan 25 2012: I haven't considered the role of multiplayer games in life, that is a good point.