Which Kills More Brain Cells: Alcohol or Video Games?

Millions of turkeys give their life so that we can give thanks, today.  Some give thanks to family and friends while others give thanks to good health.  And for Activision, the producers of one of the largest video game franchises to date, 'Modern Warfare', they give thanks for the millions of men and women who give them gobs of money.  How many people are they thanking, exactly?  Well, in just six days of launching their latest blockbuster, 'Modern Warfare 3', on November 8, there have been one million registered users for the Modern Warfare Elite.  Elite gives players an even greater depth to game play as they rack up their stats.  The $50 per year subscription not only give the ability to follow your growth in many areas, but it also pays for every new map that is to come out in the next year.  Needless to say, as the Elite in the game tend to be veteran players who control most of my deaths, I tend to harbor a little animosity towards them since all I am to them is a waste of a bullet...

A picture of my roommate, who has a Modern Warfare Elite account...

In comparison to other companies that offer paying subscriptions, such as Hulu and Netflix (which took a year to reach the million man benchmark), Activision has been ecstatic to bring in these numbers, despite a rough start.  On top of the one million gamers who have paid to go the extra mile, there are still over 4 million warriors who brave the game every day.  To have more people playing a game than live in Puerto Rico is a feat.  And that is just one game.  Imagine the hordes of players who are strictly Battle Field 3 combatants...or the players that refuse to play anything but Wii Tennis.  Millions of men and women spend hours (or days) every week in front of a screen, however, has raised some concerns.  Not just about the violence and video games, but also in the way video games may or may not lower IQ.  In other words, are video games the reason the youth of the nation is failing?

Failing to realize where the chalk board is at can be a symptom of too much Frogger...

In England, their is widespread belief that children playing video games is the reason they [the super nation] went from third all the way to 15th in literacy among the top 41 countries.  By staying glued to the television screen, kids are more worried whether or not they are going to be featured on the Final Kill Cam than if Captain Ahab catches the Great White Beast.  Leading the charge was the School Secretary Ed Balls.  His friends call him Big Brass because he essentially passed the buck from the school's failure in teaching onto the parent's failure of parenting.  Luckily, he did not just talk the talk, but walked the walk and planned a £5million revamp of all the libraries, as well as a way to push books into the community.  To him, every kid in the UK who plays Grand Theft Auto is going to turn into a low-life meth head who couldn't win a spelling bee to save his life.

"Dude, leave some room!  I need a tear drop and a cheat sheet for tomorrow's test on there!" 

On the other side of the coin are the advocates who think that video games have beneficial side affects to them.  There are the folks who push the 'brain training' games that preach about how much they raise IQ (even though a study involving 11,400 people showed there was no evidence to support those claims), and there are the people who believe the problem solving tasks done within the games are enough to create a stimulus package in the mind that bails out brain cells.  In fact, here is a quote from just one of those people!

"All these things that that have long been assumed to be rotting our brains, there might be this hidden benefit," said social critic Steven Johnson, author of the controversial new book, "Everything Bad Is Good for You."
By juggling all the tasks and remembering every item in a game, Johnson sees no difference between that and doing math problems out of a book to sharpen the old noodle.  ABC went so far as to interview a youngster to show just how complex these games are, and just how deep the rabbit hole can go...

"Well we have to get the Jeep, we have to ride up a hill, kill the snipers, drive past the mountainside, go into another giant palace and activate the remote," said one 10-year-old interviewed by ABC News while playing the Halo 2 video game, designed for the Microsoft Xbox gaming system.
Obviously, this 10 year old is a video game n00b because anyone who has played Halo knows that they drive 'Warthogs' and not Jeeps.

'But they both have wheels!  Next your going to tell me Asprin is not the same as Tic-tacs...'

Until there is more research on this, there can never be a definitive answer on whether or not Pac-man eats brain cells faster than alcohol.  One side will always fight for their right to play video games for more hours in a day than is allotted.  The other side will host men and women who would rather see a child stick a knife into a socket to learn about electricity than to have a toy from Leap-Frog teach them.  But there, in the middle of the two, are the common folks like you and I who live the dream.  Have a happy Thanksgiving.

1 comment:

  1. To me there's a vast difference between a dopamine-drip, slot-machine-like experience of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, or PacMan and an emotionally resonating, brain flexing, literature intensive experience such as a Final Fantasy, Portal, or Professor Layton; and yet they are all "Video Games"...
    Fact is there will always be a wide gulf of examples and experiences that no single criterion of -Anything- can quantify or justify the cumulative whole. Just like there's no movie that defines movies or a sport that defines sports.

    Like everything else in the world it's more about the Way you do something rather than What you're doing. Why do we need scientists to tell us that before we know it?

    And for humour's sake: in the Olden days how many kids that used to play "robbers" in a real live game of cops and robbers actually turned out to be robbers? Any significant correlation there?

    First time viewer of the site, great work!