A Video Game is Defined as…
According to the Wikipedia article Video games as an art form, “video games have been afforded legal protection as creative works by the Supreme Court of the United States, the philosophical proposition that video games are works of art remains in question, even when considering the contribution of expressive elements such as graphics, storytelling, and music.”
But really, video games are truly a category all their own. They cover all of the STEM programs and arts in the education field and are used as educational tools to teach. They inspire creation and the imagination. Video games are our inspiration to the future.
STEM: Science of Video Games
Video Games are a large part of science. Some in a traditional video game way, and others in a non-traditional video game way.
Traditionally, video games are played to be enjoyed during your free time after work or school. Non-traditionally, video games are used for research in science. And sometimes, video games do both.
According to ScienceDaily.com, “… researchers demonstrated the potential of a virtual supermarket cognitive training game as a screening tool for patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among a sample of older adults. …scientists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (GAADRD) and the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas/Information Technologies Institute (CERTH/ITI) have succeeded in making the shift to MCI screening via robust virtual reality game applications that can be used on their own for accurate MCI detection.”
FastcoLabs has an article that talks about video games being used in research labs. Princeton computer science professor Sebastian Seung and a team at MIT took on the task of mapping the ganglia of our eyes, to start to have a better understanding of how our brains work with our eyes. However, the technology they had was insufficient. The team created a game called EyeWire, “in the hopes of getting a community of untrained people to virtually map our most delicate and beloved organ.” And with their 120,000 or so volunteer players over the year 2014, they were able to find their answers.
And, even in surgery, games are used to teach students how to use the tools they will use during surgery like the Wii game, Underground the Game, which uses special Wii – motes to control the characters in the game. This kind of playing allows a student’s “muscle memory” to kick in for when the student actually does the surgery with the surgical tools.
Many games are used as research tools. Some have helped with the research for finding cures for AIDs, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and more. The article These kickass games let you do real-life science lists several games that have helped scientists and researchers advance their knowledge in their fields.
STEM: Technology of Video Games
Video games are a big part of the evolution of technological advancement. Just look at artificial intelligence. It’s not new. It was around when you played Pong and the white ball responded to your paddle. Now, the AI can respond to what actions the player is doing during gameplay. Whether the player is telling the AI to group up with him or her before taking down a helicopter, or the NPC is responding to something the player asks, there is AI. Artificial intelligence is now beyond games, including robots that can talk to people, and some that that look like people. It’s crazy.
In 1966, Thomas A. Furness III introduced a visual flight simulator for the Air Force. Today, we all play flighting, driving, racing, zoo, city and many other simulators. There is even a whole game series based off of the word “SIM” that have tons of simulation games. Even better, you can visit many museums that have simulation devices to allow you to enter a 3D simulated world, allowing your brain to feel like it is somewhere else. Virtual reality is awesome.
Virtual reality is no longer science fiction, it is science fact. Now people are using virtual reality with the expensive Oculus on their computers or the mobile phone versions. There are games you can play, stores use them to help customers design their houses, and hospitals use VR to help calm patients. VR has so many possibilities, we are just waiting to unlock them.
And of course, there is the console part of video game technology. Console developers are always looking to create the next big thing, that can also be made available to the common consumer. Nintendo is probably the best and most successful AAA company at doing this.
When the Nintendo Entertainment System came out, it had better hardware specs than its competing console, and cost way less. They helped bring video games back to the US market selling the NES with its accessories as a toy instead of a video game. They introduced the light gun to the video game market. Nintendo is an amazing company searching for the next cool video game tech.
Consoles today have to keep up with the ever evolving technology, and now even offer controller-less options like the XBox Kinect.
From wi-fi to graphics cards, simulation to intelligence, video games are definitely a huge part of modern technology.
STEM: Engineering of Video Games
With the evolving technology in video games, you definitely can’t forget engineering. Engineering researchers are always designing and finding the next big thing for video games. Whether it is to make a console smaller, faster and better or to find the next best controller of all time.
Back when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac were just young lads, they were fixing Atari arcade machines and decided to create their own personal computer. After their success with Apple, the great and powerful Woz left and Jobs continued to create his legacy. (Well, that’s the short story; the full version has drama, backstabbing, heartbreak, illegitimate kids and more. Check out Steve Jobs documentary. There’s a lot of them.) That all took engineering.
Or with Nintendo always trying new controllers, including the analog joystick, Left, and Right shoulder buttons, running pads, R.O.B., wireless, motion sensors, and so much more. Nintendo, while not always the first, always has a way of making it just right for the consumer.
And of course all of the different VR headsets and systems. It’s a lot of fun to put on a VR headset and lose yourself in a whole new world.
STEM: Mathematics of Video Games
Then there was math. There are video games to teach you math and math makes video games.
Educational games, or edutainment that teach kids. Many of them are math games. The best educational games, are games that teach you without being so dull. The average human has about a 7 – 9-second attention span. Young children have even less. So, the game designer that creates an educational game that can keep a kid’s attention for more than 10 minutes, is an epic designer.
And video games are made of math. The programming alone is one giant algebraic expression. From the simple dice roll to the complexity of 8 dice rolls, all different sided dice, plus the ability of your stat tome, divided by the enemies dice rolls and stats. Not to mention the statements and understanding how everything gets wrapped up into one happy and elegant game. That takes a lot of brain power, knowledge, and above all, patience.
Math is also in the art of video games. Knowing how long a music clip needs to play, or how many beets the music needs to be, or how many triangles your 3D objects need to be or how many pixels you can use. Not to mention, that everything is generally done in multiples of 8. Kind of like why the Nintendo 64 was named the Nintendo 64, with 64 being a multiple of 8.
Are Video Games Art?
Absolutely. Many games today are created based on the STEM alone. Most of those games don’t make it. Why? Because consumers like pretty things. Take Candy Crush Saga and many of King’s other mobile games. The characters are cute, the games are simple, and everything in their game are bright and happy. Candy Crush is one of the top games for mobile platforms.
And what about Call of Duty? Do you think most consumers could get so involved if their characters were blocks instead of being realistic? Probably not. And the Final Fantasy game series has some of the most beautiful and popular art in the world.
Video games require art to be successful and inspire artists to unknown worlds.
Needless to say, video games are complicated. You can’t say that video games are one thing or the other because they aren’t. Video games are their own category of inspiration. Without them, many people would not have the money, or motivation to research, develop and create much of the modern aspects of our current, and future world.
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