Games in a Good Light
In 2011, the Korean government enforced a game shutdown law, which forbids teenagers under the age of 16 from playing computer games from midnight to 6 A.M. for fear of game addiction and related problems. To the Korean students who usually stay up until 10-11 P.M. studying, the restriction equals banishment to a world without games. While the enactment of the law is based on the consensus among anxious school parents, playing computer games might not necessarily have negative influences on students. Thus, I would like to discuss several notable benefits that students can gain by playing computer games.
The drive to play computer games cannot be described without consideration of stress. Most people would agree that especially among the young generation, computer games are rapidly substituting for existing activities for stress relief. The substitution is attributed to the effectiveness of games in relieving stress as they can easily isolate a player from his or her tiring routine. While literature and comic books performed such a function in the past, games are a successor of that role but in far more graphical and engaging forms. Even though some may argue that a series of problems derive from the sense of escapism in computer games, students are most desperate for escape from stress from studying more than 12 hours a day.
As to another noteworthy function, computer games provide indirect experience. Education in Korea puts little emphasis on extracurricular activities, often limiting students` experience and comprehension of the world outside the school. For the same reason, parents and teachers encourage students to read more books. However, computer games can promote vicarious experience more effectively because they are not only less boring but also more interactive than literature. Whereas literature induces the reader to empathize with characters, a player can become identical with a character in the game world. Furthermore, games can inspire students to search for their futures. For instance, my brother decided to major in urban engineering, having been eager to play the Sim City series in his middle and high school. Computer games could mean more than entertainment, for they are a tool for indirect learning.
Last, computer games can serve as a valid tool for socialization and communication when face-to-face engagements have little chance to occur. As the Oxford English Dictionary defines, a game is notionally a competitive activity. Winning a round or accomplishing a mission demands a player to cooperate, negotiate, and/or argue with teammates. For example, in a world-famous online game the League of Legends, players have to team up by three or five for each round. Korea`s education forces each student to fight for grades all alone, aggravating the lack of opportunities for social activities and cooperation. In contrast, computer games provide rather a valuable playground on which students can learn how to interact with people to achieve the goal.
Contrary to what most legislators and voters believe, computer games have a high possibility to be beneficial in relieving stress, providing indirect experience, and facilitating socialization. As some scholars and politicians insist, games unavoidably are becoming a new paradigm of art and leisure, but debates over game addiction and its alleged maleficence have yet to be settled. One may still ask if we can just dispose of computer games from our exhausted students, but we cannot only focus on the demerits of playing computer games; its merits also deserve consideration.