Despite the fact that those between the ages of eight and 18 spend an average of 13.5 hours per week engaged in playing video games, students are often oblivious to the historical and cultural context of the digital worlds where they spend their time. This book in Lucent Book’s Technology 360 series probes the role of video games in modern society, presenting even-handed information about benefits and downsides of gaming that is both accessible to hobbyists and tech-savvy enough for serious gamers researching their chosen pastime.
Video Games begins by tracing the historic role of gaming in ancient cultures and establishes video games as an outgrowth of board and card games. The legal and ethical issues related to the video game’s predecessor, once-controversial pinball, as a game of chance still surround video poker and other forms of electronic gambling in many area of the United States. A timeline dedicated to electronic computing as we know it begins with a 1952 game of Tic-Tac-Toe and leads to the introduction of the Wii and XBox 360 consoles in 2006 and 2007.
After chronicling the golden age of arcade gaming, this book describes how home computing was closely linked to gaming. Gaming receives due credit for advancing mobile computing, microprocessor capabilities and the graphics underpinning our online experiences today. Similarly, the evolution of video game controllers can be mapped from switch controls to today’s advanced accelerometric and gyroscopic technologies and handheld computing with wireless network capabilities. Nonetheless, there is particular attention devoted to home console computing, with a thorough discussion and, ultimately, dismissal of any relationship between video game playing and violent behavior.
Allegations linking video gaming and violence began as early as the 1970s but reached new prominence with the Columbine school shooting. In his treatment of gaming and violence, the author discriminates between first person shooter, martial arts games and more experiential games like Grand Theft Auto and Halo, as well as explicating the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) designations. But, as statistics demonstrate, despite an increase in time spent gaming (and more realistic experiential violence in games), young people, like society as a whole, are now less violent than ever. Sales demonstrate that the most popular games tend toward violence, but sports games and "exergaming" (typified by the Wii Fit) have an increasing market share. Theoretical issues like the role of capitalism in virtual worlds and the construction of the female image in video games are mentioned. The book also touches upon the development and design of new games, video game testing, real signs of video game addiction and the use of gaming in simulation and training, particularly for soldiers.
Illustrations and informational graphics are well-chosen and extend the meaning of the text. Excellent "Bits & Bytes" sidebars share relative statistics about computing capabilities of different components, and how each compares to contemporary specifications in terms of RAM, CPU and data transfer and storage. All endnote citations to scholarly and popular source material are indicated throughout, there is a glossary, though definitions for terms like dissertation tend to be indicated parenthetically. There is a small set of related print and online resources, and an index, including games by name, manufacturer and genre. Recommended for school and public libraries.