The modern world is a complex world, despite its many luxuries and ease that have been created by the introduction of the Internet. We are more and more becoming a Global village, with endless possibilities of communication, literary, at our fingertips; new possibilities regarding how we learn and communicate with each other are opening up every day. Not only this, even things like shopping, leisure activities, hobbies, learning, all is being impacted by the wonders of the new world. Video Games and Gaming in general has also been termed as a very modern idea, and has impacted severely in the way we spend time and interact with other people.
Videogames have come a long way from their inception, from the sheer size and the complexity of the first hardware and software to the pocket sized devices that have become so popular today. Being one of the most fastest growing and the most profitable of the children's cultural industry (Media Analysis Laboratory), the Video gaming today is estimated to be worth $105 billion worldwide, a figure that has been estimated against the share values of Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Mobile Gaming, retail sales, online gaming and other similar sectors (Goldman, 2010).
From a Cultural point-of-view, Video games have had an impact on almost all of those elements that comprise what a Culture is. It has had an impact on the way Education is gained, transferred or imparted; it has impacted the way people interact with each other, the way people tend to spend time in their leisure hours and even the way the concept of Art is practiced in a society.
The research would focus on this impact by first outlining for and developing an understanding for itself regarding what is Culture. This understanding would then be transferred to how people and society in large has been impacted by the use of Video Games and whether this impact is heading in a positive or a negative direction.
What is Culture?
Any society is built and recognized by a set of beliefs and values which are the main instruments that governs the functioning of that society. These set of beliefs can be termed as Culture and it is this culture and its value which is the defining element of any society. However, there is not one agreed upon definition of culture, but more or less, culture is defined as "the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations" (Merriam Websert, n.d.).
However culture in itself is a very complex entity with many components that help in giving it its true form, and thus giving it the pattern that is talked about in the definition. These components mean anything from how we greet one another, to how we socialize with them, how we interact with them in times of happiness and sadness; how traditions and customs are celebrated, how knowledge is imparted to the next generation, etc.
Characteristics of Culture
Some of the most basic characteristic of any culture include that is an entity that is leaned from the first generation by the preceding generation. This learning can be in the form of formal or informal learning or technical learning (Leon G. Schiffman, 1997).
However, Culture is not always known to everyone! Since the behavior is inherent, a lot of time, many of its elements and patterns can be missed out upon, and therefore will not necessarily be interpreted as something that is in a fact part of a Culture. Likewise, in case of other Cultures and how they behave as per their values, will not always be understood by the other group (O'Neil., 2007).
The most important Characteristic of culture that is much important to this research is the way Culture evolves from one state to another, and how strongly the concept of Globalization is behind it.
Cultural Evolution and Globalization:
Culture is constantly in evolution and thus changing, however the rate of that change can be determined by the agents that have the ability to impact it; one of these elements is the concept of Globalization. Globalization has been defined by the New Encyclopedia (New World Encyclopedia, n.d.) as a concept which,
"refers both to the "shrinking" of the world and the increased consciousness of the world as a whole. It is a term used to describe the changes in societies and the world economy that are the result of dramatically increased cross-border trade, investment, and cultural exchange."
This Cultural Exchange means that there is a constant change in any culture at a given time, and this has the capacity of influencing that culture beyond its geographical sphere and go beyond. This agent, in the time and era of the Internet has grasped the world and impacted the world Cultures at a speed that is astounding. The result of it has been that the world has been reduced to a Global Village.
Video Games and Culture:
The main question then comes to is what is the relation of Culture and Video Games? And if there is a relation, then is it of any prime importance to be explored in detail even?
This question is of primal importance, because a cultural concept has been taken and today has been developed and then repackaged to be presented before the world as a consumer good. It has developed into an industry that since the 1970s has been constantly making profits and getting bigger and larger with each passing year.
The many facets that compose a traditional Culture also include, besides behavior patterns, entities like Folk tales, Art, Music, Child Games, etc. This categorization can be justified by the fact that they vary as per their geographical location and as such carry the regional touch with them. This regional touch is of prime importance to ascertain the concept of diversity which is the most celebrated part of any culture and thus making it unique.
The Cultural Notion of Child Games, however, has been greatly exploited and changed completely by the Video Gaming Industry. Research shows that today an astounding 65% of all American Households play video games and the numbers are constantly increasing since the introduction of the first videogames (IT Facts, 2008). This means that from the baby boomers who were the first to be introduced to this technology till today a massive change has come to an industry which initially remained labeled as the "game" industry targeting the kids (Wong, 2010). However, today things have changed completely and the industry has a dedicated following, ranging anywhere from the very young to almost 40 + now.
This change can be seen in the difference that has come about in the traditional notion of what gaming and child games were all about. The socialization and the teamwork effort, although not completely eliminated has taken a new form in the shape of social interaction. This entire topic has been studied in great detail in this research and has been categorized in the various ways that culture has been impacted due to videogames.
History of Videogames:
It is in 1958 that for the first time that a videogame is incepted by William Higinbotham, by the name of Tennis for Two. However, the real turning stone of this was in the 1960s when in MIT the first vector graphics typology of computer game was developed for the game Space War which took an entire basement room in MIT and was developed at the cost of multi-million dollars (Laird, 2005) (Shaw, 2010).
However, it is not until 1975, that when the emergence of Atari's Pong, videogames truly become a household entity (Tchong, 2004). And it was from this point forth that they were identified as a worthwhile market.
1985 show the emergence of Nintendo in the market under the banner of Nintendo Entertainment System, and it was their Super Mario that was really able to capture the market. Super Mario 3 even became the all time best seller with sells worth 11 million dollars (Laird, 2005).
The emergence of the World Wide Web and the Internet made the Video Gaming a Global phenomenon. In 1995, it was with Playstation that Video Gaming was completely transformed. It was a new technology and much advanced than many of its predecessor and due to that it soared in its popularity making it penetrate into 20% of all American households (Laird, 2005).
From 2000 onwards, names like Microsoft Xbox, SIMS, World of Warcraft, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, all have gone on to capture and influence the world of gaming immensely. The result has been that today in almost 60% of all households video gaming is one of the most major leisure activity. Besides this, the demographics today show that the second largest chunk of video gamers comprises of people who belong to the age bracket of 30-49, which is basically the first generation that was introduced to videogames (IT Facts, 2009). The very fact that they are…