Last night while lying down with my son I was scanning the channel guide on our TV and a show on our local PBS affiliate caught my eye. The show was called [url=http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/]The Video Game Revolution[/url] and it had just started so I tuned in. I expected to see an hour long special on the negative effects of video games and how they are a detriment to our society, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a very well made show that touched on the issues that the mainstream media latches on to, but it didn’t dwell on the negatives.
The host of the show who also happens to be the writer and producer is a man named Greg Palmer. He is an Emmy award winning writer, filmmaker, and broadcaster and he did a stellar job covering a topic that seems to be the current whipping boy of media outlets everywhere.
While the discussion of violence in video games did have a small segment, I was taken aback at what was said. The people being interviewed were from [url=http://www.mavia.org]Mothers Against Violence in America[/url] (MAVIA) as well as other prominent figureheads in the gaming world. While the spokeswoman from MAVIA all but blamed games for the recent violence at hand, the general consensus among the other interviewees was that there was no evidence to suggest that gaming turned people into violent monsters. Instead, they suggested that gaming seemed to reinforce ideas and values that were already present in a person. Someone who is completely violent and deranged may be set off by a violent gaming experience but someone who has no violent tendencies will not become the next mass murderer from playing a few rounds of Unreal or Doom. For once I felt like our industry was accurately represented with facts instead of the skewed research that is often presented by flashy lawyers trying to rake in big settlements on the backs of developers and publishers.
Another topic they discussed were MMOs and Everquest and the ramifications of games such as those. Obviously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that people with a tendency towards addiction or obsession will latch onto these virtual worlds that are created in MMOs and that can be detrimental to some people’s well being.
Another hot item was the idea of the US Government using tax dollars to develop things like America’s Army which some people felt like was a recruitment tool for the military. My take is that they waste our tax dollars on useless things year after year, at least we got a pair of good free games out of it this year. I know that is a poor attitude to have, but you know it is true.
There was also a highly entertaining part where they discussed “computer camps”. Kids go to these summer caps that teach basic programming and game development skills. The games they play and design are non-violent and while I got the impression that violent games were taboo at the camp they showed, it was nice to see the number of younger kids getting into the industry at such a young age. I was also surprised to see that many young women. It was funny to see how they handled kids that didn’t see to want to stop playing “violent” games such as “Teen Titans”, whatever that is.
The cast of people being interviewed was also quite impressive. Jason Rubin from Naughty Dog, Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, Will Wright, Seamus Blackley, and Tim Moss from SCEA all made appearances.
My applause goes out to Mr. Palmer for a job well done. While it would be very hard to comment on the full hour of commercial free content, I touched on a few hot topics that come up in our industry regularly. I highly encourage you to check your [url=http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/airdates.html]local PBS listings[/url] to see the next airing for the show. You can even contact KCTS in Seattle to [url=http://gallery.bcentral.com/GID4271017DD410328-History-Biography/Video-Game.aspx]purchase a DVD or VHS[/url] copy of the show.
If you happen to read this prior to 2pm ET today, there will be a chat with Mr. Palmer. You can submit questions prior to the chat so you have a better chance of them being answered. Details about the chat can be found [url=http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/04/sp_pbs_palmer090904.htm]here[/url].