Slightly unconventional class the other day. After watching the computer games unfold in my kitchen I got into a debate with some of my students.
“How can any video game be as good as a book?” I asked them.
“Of course they can!” (Collective chorus)
“Prove it.” I replied.
The mission: in teams of three to bring in a game, 1 person would explain the merits of said game while persons 2&3 play the game for the eager and skeptical audience. Three judges will decide which game and presentation wins. But the greatest challenge would be to disprove the following and in doing so persuade me that I am wrong about video games:
“Video games rot your brain. Read a book instead.”
And so the games started.
Team one lugged out the XBOX and proceeded to play Prince of Persia. I learnt that this is a game involving the leaping upwards and across to higher and harder levels. An attractive Persian woman accompanies the Prince and is his lucky star. Should you miss a leap and hurtle alarmingly towards the colourful abyss below, she will save you.
The colours, art work, music and graphics were all incredible. This was certainly not a game involving the hurtling of hedgehogs. The sophistication was impressive. I didn’t have a go, far too scared of dropping the prince.
Next up: Halo 3, the darling of video games and the main drainer of teenage boy’s time.
A lot of shooting. I tried this one, and was impressed by how the (wireless!) console vibrated each time I fired the guns. I felt small fragments of testosterone shooting through my veins that stopped the minute I put the game down. A little scary.
Game three was the Wii and Rockstar. Out came drums, guitar and microphone. I had the frightening responsibility of singing along to The Clash, …. My score was meager and embarrassing but this was fun! The whole class sung along, laughed clapped and (did I imagine?) took photos.
Then it was Wii sports and I attempted (good word) to play tennis and baseball. More photos.
So am I eating humble pie? Did the teacher learn something?
The silly miniclip and other free games on the internet involving fast cars, motorcycles, snow boarders and hedgehogs will rot your brain. Read a book.
These games on the other hand require imagination foresight, coordination, fast reflexes and a sense of humour. The greatest thing is how social they are, having the ability to gather a group together to play or even watch. There is an investment in time and thought, especially Prince of Persia that takes about 8 hours to play.
They are a lot of fun! And I am convinced that any pilot who spent his youth console in hand will have excellent reflexes, it probably aids in drivers ed, but more importantly, and apart from all the shooting that I didn’t like, these games were really fun. Obviously spending 6 hours playing games, 3 on MSN and 2 in front of the TV will rot the brain and probably lead to oxygen deficiency. But in moderation, and in my opinion, the Wii is the way to go.
And to quote one fine student in response to my totally nerdy question about spending one’s time in a productive and worthwhile way,
“What’s wrong with doing it just because it’s fun?”