Electronic Games

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Video games have become more than just a way for aimless kids to waste their time. New research shows that playing e-games can actually foster civic engagement and moral and ethical decision making among youth. Gaming is also a $9.5 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. And game design and programming have become the third most popular major at Vermont’s Champlain College, a pioneer in academic study in the gaming field.

We’ll talk with Ann DeMarle, the founder and director of Champlain’s Emergent Media Center, about e-games and the work her students are doing. And we’ll talk with two of those students, Lauren Nishikawa and Wesley Knee, about the role they see for e-games in 21st Century culture. (Listen)

Also on the program: Robins in Vermont in February? Host Jane Lindholm talks with birding expert Bridget Butler about changes in bird migration patterns linked to global climate change. (Listen)



From Leonard in Bethel
What about games that aren’t really games but are simulators, such as
Falcon 4 Allied Force, which comes with a 700-page manual and every
switch knob and button is modeled in the cockpit and is functional with a click of the mouse button. After playing games for 20 years I’ve found simulators are the most evolved and interesting P.C. "games"

From Ed in Middlebury
As a member of the pre-gaming generation, I support gaming as an instance of two paradigms that in my day were demonized. Especially with ecological pressures, we need to be exploring inner space and the idea of life as free play. Take your work seriously, gamers, and in the end you will see it does Not matter so much which side of the mountain you ascend. Game on!

From Dave
Great topic, interesting discussion. I think there is a huge developing market in this area, and have heard many stories of physical therapists incorporating these sorts of games into activities for the elderly or even rehab programs.

There is a huge need, as I see it, for affordable products for use in rehab for folks suffering from the effects of stroke and traumatic brain injury. Often the biggest need is simply repetitive practice with affected limbs, but time with an occupational therapist oR physical therapist is extremely expensive and most health insurers stop paying after a few months of sessions, in spite of all the research suggesting recovery and brain plasticity can continue for years after injury.

The gaming technologies can offer much in terms of making exercise more engaging as well as affordable for long term use. I have seen some research applications of computer technologies like the Armeo device from the Swiss firm Hocoma, but these devices are extremely expensive and only available in research settings. My daughter, who suffered a TBI in 2005, has traveled to Spaulding Hospital in Boston to participate in a research study of the Armeo device with some useful results, but practical clinical use seems to be years away. My hope is work in this area moves in the direction of practical and affordable devices.

From Jeremy
I think that the Wii games are great. Most are physically interactive, like Wii sports, Guitar Hero, Wii fit, etc. I think the Wii breaks the traditional sense of zoned out, pasty white, single controller gamers. I play with my kids, my neighbors kids and other friends and families. I never would have bought a video game until I got the Wii as a present.

From Clinton in Burlington
I personally never understood why people criticize playing video games as a waste of time. Video games are a new form of storytelling that allow you to actually interact with the characters and environments in which the story is being told. People have always been highly critical of new art and media forms, and video games first being popularized by nerds, dorks, and geeks in the ’80s made for pop-culture stereotypes that still persist today however undeserving they are.


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