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For more than ten years, my pediatric colleagues and I here in Oregon have conducted a poll of sorts.

Every eleven- or twelve-year-old, once measured then roomed, is given a questionnaire to complete while waiting for the doctor. Within this survey screening for signs of mental, physical or academic stress is planted the question, “What career aspirations do you have?”

In other words, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Since the late 1990s, preteen girls have seldom strayed from answering veterinarian, nurse, teacher, doctor, architect, artist, writer, singer, actress, volleyball player, or the like. Sometimes they leave the question blank. Sometimes they answer “I don’t know yet.” These uncertain ones are given reassurance.

Of the boys, I am the one in need of reassurance. As someone who at this awkward age pined to be a professional baseball player — or failing that, a star pilot the likes of Luke Skywalker, who was making the jump through hyperspace to join the rebellion during the fall just after my eleventh birthday — I understand that the career aspirations of a sixth-grader are poorly predictive of his eventual livelihood.

Nevertheless, I worry for our society’s prospects — not to mention my retirement — when of those boys who answer nearly half identify “video game designer” or “video game programmer” as their life’s ambition, as has become the case in recent years.

Our nation’s future prosperity would appear to rest on an emerging market of a billion or more young Asian consumers with an unquenchable thirst for American-­made video games to occupy the coming glut of basement-­dwelling game designers with suspect hygiene.

You needn’t worry, you may be thinking, they’re just kids. Kids who, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation report, spend more than fifty hours each week screen-bound, more time than any activity besides sleeping. Boys who, researchers report, will spend an average of 10,000 hours by age 21 playing video games.

We indeed need worry, for these boys are the canaries in our national mineshaft.

Let kids dream of being whatever they want, right? What difference is there between the dream of becoming a professional athlete and one of becoming a salaried video game designer? But for the tiniest sliver of the population, both are similarly unattainable goals.

And yet the preadolescent or adolescent who has a sincere passion for becoming an elite athlete — dancer or gymnast, runner or football player — will train and train, sweat and toil, taste success and learn from failure year upon year to pursue a chance at glory. He will work hard to maintain his grades, because he won’t otherwise be allowed to compete. She will keep up her grade-point average to stay in the chase for a collegiate athletic scholarship.

The dedicated young athlete — or singer, or actress, or writer, and so on — will endure the long and difficult slog until their goals are met, or more likely until their goals change, in which case the learned lessons of tenacity and perseverance will serve him or her well toward new ends.

By contrast, the young person who spends countless hours living in imaginary cyber-­worlds often lets his grades suffer. His homework and essays and projects go unfinished, or are completed slapdash at the midnight hour.

Nights are sleep-­shortened, and days are kept alert by high-calorie energy drinks. The waistline expands, and the circle of friends contracts. Curiosity shrivels, and future horizons shrink as the social and academic skills requisite for adulthood success and happiness are not learned.

Of course, not every obsessive young gamer has so bleak a future, so dire a forecast. Some will return to reality with advancing maturity. Others will evolve their youthful gaming fixation into a technological vocation. The 21st century needs and will continue to need its computer nerds.

So too will the century need teachers, nurses, doctors, veterinarians, mechanics, engineers, architects, builders, welders, electricians, police officers, firefighters, soldiers and, yes, even lawyers. There will not be enough young women to fill these roles and more like them, roles essential to the function and prosperity of society.

It is for this reason we should fret when so many male youth today see their future as simply an extension of their twitchy-thumbed childhood.

Originally posted to StrangeAnimals on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 08:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There's this - at 10,000 hours (13+ / 0-)

    They'll be awfully good at playing the games. 10,000 hours is supposed to be the point at which real expertise sets in.

    So we'll have an army of highly skilled players, we just have to figure out what to do with them.

      •  What to do with them... (7+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, kurt, ybruti, lineatus, mookins, weck, turdraker

        In all seriousness, this is a resource that might be tapped for productive ends. This could be just the beginning (this is NOT from The Onion):

        A 15-year-old AIDS problem was recently solved in just three weeks using a new online game site that allows users to contribute in decoding complex proteins. Fold.it users incredibly modeled the enzyme, Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV) retroviral protease, in a manner that matched crystalline structures observed by scientists.

        Simply put, Fold.it allows users to predict the shape of a protein and map it, using a game-like structure. The better the model, the more points you get.

        In this case, however, scientists experimented with giving users three weeks to create a model of a protein that scientists haven't been able to model on the molecular level themselves. At the end of the three-week period, scientists compared the best models to x-ray crystallography of the protein. They discovered that at least one group of players had determined the correct structure for it, according to the Fold.it. blog.

        The findings were published in structural and molecular biology section of the Sept. 18 version of the journal Nature. Fold.it has gained over 236,000 players since it started in 2008.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 06:30:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ummm... Yeah. Uh-huh. (17+ / 0-)

    This diary could be much better informed than it is.

    The fact is, at least here in Southern California, "video game programmer", "video game designer", and a whole host of attendant jobs (writers, editors, artists, musicians, etc.) are completely viable career choices.  Blizzard (the producers of World of Warcraft--a mere 12-14 million customers) is a major employer in Irvine, CA.  NCSoft (who make a number of games) also hires, not just in Southern California, but in Texas and Seattle as well.  Sony Online Entertainment is HQ'd in San Diego and has a rather large campus there, and I personally know a woman who works as a lead designer for EverQuest II, and has had the job for at least ten years.

    Video game makers hire small hordes of computer programmers, graphic artists, writers, and designers.  It's a sector of the economy that's not really showing much signs of slowing down--it's a perfectly viable career goal.

    This just seems like yet-another attack on video games, although this one is particularly ill-informed.

    •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weck, happymisanthropy

      Much of this is getting outsourced these days...we probably won't be able to compete long term on labor costs...

      •  That's news to me. (6+ / 0-)

        Most of the jobs I've seen are advertised for the companies' HQs--Irvine, Santa Ana, Austin, Seattle, San Diego, and so on.

        •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greengemini

          There are jobs advertised...the question is if we'll be able to compete long term.  India is training programmers very fast, and outsourcing development to India, etc. is getting very trendy, particularly to the EA's of the world.

          •  there's WAY more to design than programming (5+ / 0-)

            ever play D&D?  think about what it took to create a coherent world to play in and multiply that by a few thousand.

            "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face" & "Polka will never die." - H. Dresden.

            by bnasley on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:27:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah. (6+ / 0-)

              In addition, most of the MMORPGs I've played are heavily influenced by Classical mythology, literature, music, the arts, popular culture, etc.

              I snickered to myself when I ran across "Whit Waltman" in World of Warcraft, standing there in a broad-brimmed hat and a big, bushy beard.  The game I play most regularly, City of Heroes, was designed by a guy with a PhD in Classics--and it shows, constantly, in the game itself.

              •  have you read Reamde by the 2nd god of cyberpunk (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril, Lasgalen Lothir, chimene

                Neil Stephenson?  (to me William Gibson will always be that genre's revered Almighty Holy Father Yahweh dude)

                i don't actually play MMORPGs myself but the societal phenomenon is pretty fascinating (to me, at any rate)

                "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face" & "Polka will never die." - H. Dresden.

                by bnasley on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:43:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I haven't... (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bnasley, kyril, Perry the Imp, chimene

                  ...I got a little burned out on Stephenson somewhere after The Diamond Age (which was brilliant).  I think his novels started to get into Dickensian lengths, and I'm a Victorianist as it is.  Once he started publishing those monster-length novels, I had to stop because I was reading Dombey & Son, Bleak House, and the like for my PhD exams.

                  Walter Jon Williams (a demi-god of cyberpunk, at least) did a brilliant novel about two years ago titled This Is Not a Game.

                  •  tried to re-read Neil's pre-Cryptomonicon (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lasgalen Lothir, kyril

                    work a few months ago and, oddly, though i absolutely loved all of it the first time around, couldn't get past 20 pages on any of it this time around.

                    Baroque Cycle and Anathem are tough.  Same 20 page barrier.

                    "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face" & "Polka will never die." - H. Dresden.

                    by bnasley on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 06:20:19 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Cryptonomicon... (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Perry the Imp, kyril, bnasley

                      ...came out the year I was reading for my PhD exams, or immediately before it.  I have it, but it got put on a back shelf.

                      Then I went into the post-exam year where we English PhDs don't read anything worthwhile whatsoever, having spent a year reading eight hours a day, seven days a week.

                      I suppose Snow Crash or Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller might seem dated to me now, but I loved them when I read them.

      •  Really? Who and where? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        You must have read this somewhere, perhaps you could link to the article you read that convinced you video games are being outsourced? I mean, you pull a fact like this out of your ass, right? You HAVE to know something about the industry or you wouldn't say anything, correct?

        •  Yes... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, kurt, Jerry J

          I actually own a video game development company and a member of IGDA, so yes, I'm familiar.  Also, The Google Is Your Friend

          •  EA are a bunch of jerks and always have been (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, G2geek

            Nobody with any talent wants to work at EA anyhow, it's a freaking 100 hour a week for 40 hours pay sweat shop. One company, already widely known for their asshattery in gaming circles, does not a trend make.

            I must congratulate you on your multidisciplinary success. Not many have the energy to work two jobs as demanding as law and game design at the same time. So what games have you made? Any that I might recognize?

            •  Owner... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, HeyMikey, greengemini, kurt

              My company is Nibble Design... www.nibbledesign.com and I'm not a programmer, I'm an owner.  Games worked on by my team are shown on the site, most with publishers and with the other principals before we formed.  One of our founders was a Senior Technical Lead with EA for a time, and would agree with your assessment of them

              But EA is not alone...it was an option for us to take a team from India to supplement the work done here...I've worked with an Indian team for a client of mine and he had decent results, and it was probably 25-50% of what a US development team would have cost.  Language and time zone were the biggest challenges.

              We ultimately are doing work in house, and our creative team is sorta doing it the DoubleFine way...slow to market, trying to make one good product and not 50 crappy ones.  But our "success" is yet to be seen.

              •  Well, good luck! (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril, greengemini, kurt

                More indie gamer design companies are a good thing. Glad you are keeping it in house. Honestly, though, I don't think outsourcing creative endeavors is as cost effective as a naive analysis might suggest. There are TONS of hidden costs involved. It is hard to maintain artistic control and direction when your workforce live in another time zone and were raised in a different culture. If it were easy to do with creative endeavors, Hollywood and the music industry would be outsourcing too. The reason it works for EA is because they primarily produce cookie cutter sports games, which a well trained monkey could make.

                •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kyril, kurt

                  Hollywood and music industry are doing it...it is true that there are problems, but those who do it aren't outsourcing "creative" (game and character design), they're outsourcing production (like 3d modeling/rigging or game engine work)...and that is where a bulk of the "out of high school" would probably be hired if they're looking for a "job" in it.  Creative jobs are a lot more difficult to land without a portfolio and special talents.

                  Technically, a lot of work in Hollywood is going to Canada due to government subsidies...but the point is, there is a worldwide competition for entertainment work, and Americans are expensive to employ on worldwide standards, particularly because you have to give them healthcare (unlike other countries where taxes cover that)...

                  •  I don't think the picture is that bleak (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kyril, MNPundit, kurt

                    There is still a ton of creative and technical work in the field here in America. No, not everyone who wants to work in the video game field will find a spot there, but that's been the case with entertainment work for, well, forever, don't you think?

                    I hate this whole "labor costs are the deciding factor" mentality, you know it isn't true, personally, as a business owner, you admitted as much, yet you feed into the whole "outsourcing, boogah boogah! labor costs are too high!" paranoia. Or maybe I'm misreading you.

                    Plus, the market is only going to get bigger.  In the end, more outsourced jobs means more middle class people in other countries who demand more rights and higher pay, a trade imbalance develops and suddenly it's cheaper for them to hire us to make their video games. That's the theory anyway.

                    I agree that the high cost of American health care is killing us, though. The free market has proven itself unable to efficiently allocate resources to the problem, because going to a doctor when you are sick is fundamentally unlike any other financial transaction, ever. Most every other culture in the world is smart enough to recognize that fact.

                    •  Labor costs (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kurt

                      Labor costs can be a deciding factor if "everything is equal"...sometimes it can work, other times not...but the fact remains is that American companies, particularly the non-Indies, are not planners as a rule...they're bean counters.  And "talent" and "originality" doesn't show up as a line item on a PNL statement.

                      I will say, though, that some of the Indian developers were very talented people...they were often just not given good direction or fully thought out designs, and no one can be good at production if the design is half assed.

                      •  I wouldn't say by any means (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        TexasDemocrat

                        that Indian (or Chinese or Japanese or Korean or European) developers are less talented than American and Canadian developers. Far from it; studios in other countries produce some amazing games. The Japanese and Korean industries in particular rival the American industry for quality and profitability.

                        The problem with outsourcing game design is cultural. Basically, most game genres have diverged into three or four distinct cultural 'threads', each of which appeals to and competes primarily in the region it originated from. Some companies - notably Blizzard and Square Enix - have been able to compete successfully across multiple regions, but it's worth noting that they did not do so by outsourcing. What they do is practically the opposite of outsourcing; their actual game design is done completely in-country, and they invest in worldwide cultural and linguistic competence by employing translators and customer service representatives locally in every market they compete in.

                        Companies that outsource game development - notably EA - do make a lot of profit, but it's unstable profit. They don't make money by making titles that sell a lot of copies - they make money by making a lot of titles cheaply and selling a few of each. They don't develop brand loyalty. Nobody thinks EA games are good in the same way we think Valve, Blizzard, or SE games are good. It's the Wal-Mart business model versus the Apple business model...but operating in a purely-luxury market where purchase decisions are made almost entirely on the basis of quality. A single Blizzard title makes hundreds of times more than a single EA title. Even if EA spends hundreds of times less on development costs by using outsourcing, the economic calculation isn't clear-cut, especially considering Blizzard's brand-loyalty advantage.

                        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                        by kyril on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 12:28:35 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        TexasDemocrat, kyril

                        I'm not claiming workers in other countries aren't talented, The problem comes in communicating creative ideas to people who don't have all the same cultural references. Even with a good design and talented creatives, if you can't communicate, it won't turn out well. That and time zones, like you mentioned.

                        Heh, Kyril already said all that. I guess we've got a few Kossacks who know a thing or two about video games.

    •  And, of those programmers (7+ / 0-)

      many will have serious science backgrounds.

      If you want to make a respectable game with real interaction, you need it to respond in a realistic way. That means lots of physics, engineering, serious math, 3d modeling, etc.

      Lots and lots of creativity as well.

      While some of it might be outsourced, most won't be. The language skills needed almost require native speakers.

      •  Well, for larger games, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mmacdDE, Lasgalen Lothir, kurt

        some elements of programming could technically be outsourced. It's mostly not, because most of the countries it could be outsourced to have thriving game development industries of their own competing for talent - but in theory it could.

        However, the actual game design side of things requires a high level of linguistic and cultural competence. Which helps keep the coding jobs in-country because designers and artists like to be able to work closely with coders.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:01:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No, actually, the Diarist is particularly (9+ / 0-)

      well-informed, having actual data not previously available to the rest of us to base this diary on. You are also somewhat well-informed about the game industry (which my son, my daughter, and my nephew work in), but apparently not on how an economy works.

      While it is true that there is a booming game industry, the idea that half of the young males in this country could get jobs in it is a collective fantasy, a consensual hallucination. Girls are reported in this survey to have a reasonable diversity of goals, not 100% realistic, but within sanity. Boys apparently live on a different planet. (Quite literally in many games, such as World of Warcraft, my son and daughter's favorite.) I note that neither group talks of math, science, or engineering.

      This may have something to do with the observed fact that there are now more women getting college degrees than men.

      Be that as it may, I contend that this research is a sign of a terribly missed opportunity. We could be teaching ten-year-old boys and girls how to program computers, and we could be doing it in part by having them design and implement games. I know, it is heresy to teach anything in the schools that kids want to learn, or that would actually be useful.

      There have been many successful experiments in teaching a variety of programming languages in third grade, and some starting even earlier. Seymour Papert's Logo language (including Turtle Art) and Alan Kay's Smalltalk were designed from the ground up for children. APL was not, but Ken Iverson, its inventor, used a subset of it successfully to teach first-grade arithmetic in the early 1970s.

      Uruguay has given every one of its primary schoolchildren a One Laptop Per Child XO computer with Turtle Art and Smalltalk. Peru has done it. Rwanda is working on it. Other countries plan on doing it. The US is not doing it, and has no intention of doing it, even though such laptops cost far less than textbooks and do far more. But imagine if we could harness the drive of half of our boys to learn programming and STEM, the science, technology, engineering and math needed for good world design and game programming, and then if they had the option to choose other paths to employments using those skills.

      We have just a few of the young children in Peru, Uruguay, and other countries writing educational software, including games, for millions of others to use. Not many will do that at age 11 or 12. The children of subsistence farmers, the children of the urban poor, the children who lack clean water, food, or health care, the victims of oppression and corruption, have more pressing issues, such as working from the end of the schoolday to sundown to help the family make ends meet.

      But many will learn some level of programming. Many will learn Web skills, including e-commerce. Many will have the math for science and engineering later on, and the programming skill to create their own models. Many will take advantage of the communications capabilities of their laptops to become social and political organizers. All of them will have the opportunity to escape grinding poverty, or assist many others to do so.

      Whatever they want to do, the laptops will give them access to what they need in order to learn to do it, and in many cases the essential tools to start doing it from an early age.

      Busting the Dog Whistle code.

      by Mokurai on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:48:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Persiflage, Azazello, Jerry J, New Rule

        I had wondered when anyone would pick up on that I'm presenting here a new and unique data set, one that reveals a shift in attitudes among preteen boys in recent years.

        In offering my interpretation of that data, I fully acknowledge that it may well be off-base, but my intent is not to be "alarmist". Rather, as a pediatrician for now twenty years (this week), I would like to think that I am able to offer somewhat of a bird-eye's view unique perhaps among diarists on this site.

        Interesting that, when this article was published in my local newspaper, the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, and mostly from parents and educators who report seeing all the same phenomena among preteen and teen boys that I see as a pediatrician with several thousand patients.

        Every generation of adults sees new forms of media and entertainment – and the social changes they stir – as a threat to the rightful order of things. There is always this pattern: old stuff is respected, and new stuff is junk. Young people adopt a new form of entertainment, and older people are spooked by its unfamiliarity and condemn it. Eventually, in every case, the young grow up and the new medium becomes accepted, even passé, at which point another new form of “shocking” entertainment appears and the cycle begins again.

        My aim is not to be a "curmudgeon". I am a non-gamer, yes, but I often reassure non-gamer parents, who often assume that video games, like so many electronic media, are designed to deliver instant gratification, that the opposite is the case. The best video games are brilliantly designed puzzles. Finishing them requires players to construct hypotheses, solve problems, develop strategies, learn the rules through trial and error, maintain discipline, juggle several different tasks, evaluate risks and make quick decisions. All much like the ultimate game of life itself.

        But there is such a thing as balance. Think of it: 10,000 hours before age 21. That's a full-time job held for five years. Playing video games.

        So are games inherently good, or bad? Actually, they are neither, like books, films, music, the internet, or any other form of entertainment. All can be used to depict sex and violence. All can be used to educate or inform.

        The largest problem inherent with video games and other forms of modern media is not so much what children are seeing, it is with what they are not doing, tethered for endless hours to their electronic gadgets and mesmerizing screens. They are not having conversations. They are not having family meals. They are not reading. They are not playing outside. They are not building, creating, or pretending. They are not taking time to just veg. And they are not getting to bed on time, or sleeping enough.

        It’s not so much that video games rot the brain – it’s what our children are not doing that is going to rot their life.

        Like most anything in life, age-appropriate video games played in moderation, and with parental supervision, are largely an okay thing. Kids need balance in their lives: surfing and gaming, alongside school and homework,  and old-fashioned reading and playing and imagining and creating.

        But for children such balance is not always intuitive. It  must be modeled and molded by parents, many of whom in today’s overscheduled world are searching for it themselves, all the while asking video games and television to baby sit their children while they look.

        Video games are not the “problem” with today’s kids. Lack of balance in our lives and by extension those of our children is the problem. Video games will ultimately become just another accepted medium, alongside books, music and films. And in a few decades graying gamers will click their tongues at some new evil that threatens to destroy the younger generation’s moral fiber.

        Now are the days we've been working for.

        by StrangeAnimals on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 03:31:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Er... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Lasgalen Lothir, arch, kurt
          They are not building, creating, or pretending.
          This isn't building, creating, or pretending?
          Starcraft map design
          How about this?
          Amethyst Hollows Dreamworld - mod for Skyrim
          Or this?
          Happy Place- original song and machinima
          How about the 5,143 (and increasing) small programs, mostly featuring original artwork, featured here?
          World of Warcraft Addons - Curse
          Or the artwork featured here?
          World of Warcraft Fan Art
          How about the roleplay stories posted here?
          WoW RP Stories
          And this game isn't all about creating?
          Minecraft

          Gamers are prolific creators of art and music. We also write a ton and read even more - millions of pages of game guides and wikis and roleplay stories and fan fiction and blog posts, thousands of novels and guides and books of artwork, hundreds of research papers. We build things. We design things. We create endlessly both within and outside our games. We use every medium, from canvas to 2D and 3D art to 3D animation to music to code to written and spoken language.

          There are a lot of things you can say about gaming. It's probably not great for our physical health. But no informed person could reasonably say that it stifles creativity or intellectual development.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 04:11:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Er... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greengemini, Persiflage, lineatus

            Apples and oranges. I'm talking about children, children playing 50 hours or more each week of video games at the expense of family, school, physical activity, social opportunities.

            I get that all the avid gamers here are going to defend their livelihood and/or hobby. I get (and I said it) that video games are creative and teach problem-solving (of a sort, arguably not widely applicable in the "real" world).

            But what if I said that 43% of eleven and twelve year-old boys said they wanted to be soldiers? Would no one worry? Would the answer be "well, the defense industry is thriving, with lots of good paying jobs"? No one would be the slightest bit concerned that nearly half of preteen boys pined to be in the military?

            Most of the responses here are simply comparing apples and oranges. For those who are in the industry, and are doing well, terrific. But you still need the people to build the buildings that house those industries. You need the electricians, the welders, and a variety of other tradesmen. You need police and fire protection. You need teachers to teach your kids. You need nurses and doctors to bring you and they back to good health. Etc.

            How are these screen-bound teen boys going to get into college or trade school when their grades have sunk through the floor because they've spent five years of their childhood holding down the full-time job of video game player? How are they going to get those degrees in computer science, physics, visual art, mathematics, etc.?

            Again, my point is that we should fret - not run through the streets, not stick are heads in the mud - but fret that such a high percentage of preteen boys envision their adulthood in the video game industry, all the while many of them are slipping and falling down at school and in life and health.

            Now are the days we've been working for.

            by StrangeAnimals on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 04:33:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Moreover, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              greengemini

              The number of seniors in our society needing assisted-living or memory-care is set to explode, more than double, to at least 14 million over the next 10-15 years. Who is going to take care of these people? Young men? Pshaw. No, the burden will fall to our young women.

              Young women already have become the majority of college students and graduates. Young women are rising as a percentage of professionals: physicians, lawyers, vets, etc. And where are the young men? One answer is from Dr. Philip Zimbardo of Stanford.

              We need our young men to be going into trades, into civil service, into health professions. Sure, a small percentage of them can go into the gaming industry. Fine. No quibbles. But my overarching point is that we should worry that nearly half of young boys envision gaming as their future.

              Now are the days we've been working for.

              by StrangeAnimals on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:14:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  That's weird... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              ...because it looked like the entire diary was about "unrealistic job expectations".

            •  Talk about Apples to Oranges (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              Yes, if I heard that half of all kids wanted to join a profession where they kill people and could very easily be killed I would find that alarming. That's definitely comparable to children wanting to learn to work with computers...... Who knows, maybe if the future is anything like Ender's Game there will be some overlap there.

              The bottom line is that if any kid is playing 50 hours of games a week staying up to all hours with no exercise that is a FAILURE OF PARENTING. You come of as so completely out of touch in this diary.

          •  none the less, the phrase "amusing ourselves... (4+ / 0-)

            .... to death" comes to mind.  

            50 hours a week.

            So another entertainment industry gets built, but meanwhile pressing real-world needs go unmet.

            It's a question of balance.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 04:55:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  ...and this comment kinda proves my point... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, kurt

          ...the issue here isn't "realistic job prospects".  It's video games.  The entire comment here isn't about job skills--it's about how awful video games are.  Same song and dance I've heard since I was 10--and I'm 40 now.

          As for Mokurai's comment that I don't understand how economies work...  That's complete B.S.  The video game industry is booming.  These companies are hiring people in droves--and they're one of the few industries still doing so.

          It's much, much more realistic for a young boy to want to become a graphic designer for video games than for a young girl to become a ballerina (for example).  I've got plenty of close friends who are dancers, and not one of them makes his living in the craft.

        •  "They are not building, creating, or pretending." (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, kurt

          These guys have an online show about gaming, and clearly, at least the writer is a gamer (though, having seen three of the cast shopping on the floor of ComiCon last year, I'd say they're gamers themselves).

    •  SO MUCH FAIL IN THIS DIARY (6+ / 0-)

      How about some hard number about how much people in the video game industry make in 2012 compared to 2011:

      * Art and Animation - $75,780 (up from $71,354)
      * Audio - $83,182 (up from $68,088)
      * Business - $102,160 (down from $106,452)
      * Game Design - $73,386 (up from $70,223)
      * Production - $85,687 (down from $88,544)
      * Programming - $92,962 (up from $85,733)
      * Quality Assurance - $47,910 (down from $49,009)
      Source:

      http://games.ign.com/...

      To be clear... the people in that last category -- Quality Assurance -- are actually paid to play video games. That's why their salary is lowest, but still well above the median.

      This is all basically supply and demand. People enjoy games, and are willing to pay money to be entertained. If you want a job making people happy, but also make boatloads of money, what should you do? Become a writer? A bartender? A painter?

      NOPE! Become a video game designer.

      •  I'd like to add... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Garrett, Lasgalen Lothir, kurt, New Rule

        "Gamification" is the hottest new trend in computer programming in general. Most business software has terrible user interfaces, and the end users hate using them because of it. People with experience in designing game-like user interfaces can easily translate those skills to making better user interfaces for enterprise software.

        These are sometimes called "User Experience" engineers, and make well over $100k in the bay area.

      •  So what you're saying is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StrangeAnimals

        there are enough high-paying jobs in the video game biz to employ all the boys who want to work in video games when they grow up, even though they may not be studying the things they need to in order to become qualified?

        •  Would you raise this objection... (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, Focusmarker, arch, kurt, softserve, MasterKey

          ...if they said they wanted to be fighter pilots?  Or astronauts?  Or doctors?  Or lawyers?

          Let's be honest--most of those jobs are exclusive clubs.  To become a fighter pilot or astronaut, you have to be in almost perfect physical condition.  My high school best friend wanted to be, but she didn't even qualify, in spite of three years of training prior.  Most people fail.

          To become a doctor or lawyer, you have to not only get a four-year college degree, but you have to go on to professional school for a minimum of another three years (lawyer), and the market for lawyers is already glutted as it is.

          And yet no one would have any problem if boys answered "astronaut" (as they did in the 1960s and 1970s) or "lawyer".

          Video game designer?  Freak-out time, apparently.  It's just bizarre.  It's a job that pays well, that requires a certain level of education but that's not totally out of reach, and that is currently hiring in droves.  Most parents today should hope their son aspires to a job that requires a college degree and pays on par with what an engineer makes, and people in the arts and music should be ecstatic, because video game companies are making those fields not only viable, but lucrative for those who go into them.

          I mean, c'mon, if it's just about the video games, just come out and say so.  Be honest about the argument.

          •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril

            Agreed.

          •  However, BLS projects mixed hiring... (0+ / 0-)

            ...in the fields that cover video game design...with some job types showing slower hiring than other occupations, and some showing higher.

            I have no dog in this fight, I'm curious so I looked into a it a very little bit. There's more detail than a simple rosy picture, 'course we all knew that, yes?

            BLS being the US Dept of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics...
             

            Artists & Animators
            Job Outlook
            Employment of multimedia artists and animators is expected to grow by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Expected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. However, growth will be slow as companies increasing hire animators who are overseas. In addition, competition for jobs will be tough because there are many people interested in entering the occupation.

            Art Directors
            Job Outlook
            Employment of art directors is expected to increase 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Art directors will continue to be needed to oversee the work of graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and others who design in artwork or layouts.

            Programmers
            Job Outlook
            Employment of software developers is projected to grow 30 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. The main reason for the rapid growth is a large increase in the demand for computer software.

            Cheers.
    •  question - how many employees does Blizzard have? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luckydog

      In Irvine and what percentage of the male population of Irvine is that number? The diary was reporting results seen in a sample data set and the authors valid concerns over them. I feel you have misinterpreted that as an attack on something you seem to like. Why not lighten up a bit?
      I know it might be hard for you to believe, but Southern California is not the center of the universe.

  •  Ask those boys the same question when they are a (4+ / 0-)

    little older....they are "not as mature" as the girls at that age.

      What to do with them??  The best of them wil be piloting drones of course.  :)

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    by weck on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 12:47:06 PM PDT

  •  This is tangential and somewhat anecdotal (6+ / 0-)

    but a somewhat parallel trend has been noticed (at least by my wife and myself) among undergraduates.  There has been a well documented shift in the undergraduate population so that it is now female biased in most fields.  Even given that bias we notice that female students are more likely to end up working in a lab.  I used to hire undergrads as 'prep staff' for teaching labs.  This was not a particularly glamorous job but it was a job in biology.  At a maximum I had 25% male staff (and it was as low as 0% at times).  Male students just didn't apply.  There seems to be a similar if less dramatic bias in research labs as well.

    A higher proportion of male students than female seem to be coasting through university.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 01:01:49 PM PDT

  •  So what? (8+ / 0-)

    You have absolutely no idea how immense an industry video gaming is. A kid who actually wants to be a game designer is going to study and work hard at it, and they will get a job in the field. An AAA title these days takes many millions of dollars and hundreds of talented people to design.

    You also tie a LOT of unrelated things into your "video games R bad, m'kay?" thesis, sleep deprivation? OH NOES! The kids are playing games and not sleeping and this makes them drink sugary drinks which leads to the Diabeetus, all due to VIDEO GAMES!1!

    Clueless curmudgeons throughout the ages have belted out a perennial refrain of "Kids these days!" accompanied by much wringing of hands and tut-tutting. And the outcome here will be the same as they have always been, the kids do fine even though some old geezer thinks they are heralds of the end of the world.

    •  Yep. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Lasgalen Lothir, kurt, softserve

      I enjoy computer games, weigh 55kg at 164 cm, have an average of 8,8/10 at the faculty of law, jog, read, and have a myriad other hobbies besides. On the other hand, I am socially awkward at times - but that's due to run-of-the-mill OCD.

      In short, not every gamer is a freakish waste of carbon. In fact, most aren't.

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:15:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Game design is an art form (7+ / 0-)

        But then, look how long it has taken comics or the graphic novel to be (somewhat) accepted as a real art. Cultural snobs simply do not want popular art forms recognized. I mean, if the hoi polloi enjoy it, it must be a debased form of entertainment.

        Game playing is also a sport. I mean, in the same sense that chess is: people make a living off of doing it professionally. Yes, there are professional gamers with corporate sponsors and everything.

        Automobiles and elevators have done far more to make people fat and lazy, but you rarely hear old curmudgeons complaining about those. Anymore. I'm sure some old codger back in 1852 was complaining about "The youth of today" being too lazy thanks to Elisha Otis and his infernal invention.

        •  And it's not like reading... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, SethRightmer, kurt, softserve

          ...makes you more physically fit, either.

          I (usually) don't stay up late playing video games ("Civilization"-style video games being one exception for me); I do stay up late trying to finish a novel.

          And it's not like reading "Harry Potter", Charles Dickens, or Shakespeare inherently adds anything to the world.  Those are all "just entertainment", too--and, at one point, were sneered at by cultural snobs.

  •  girls say architect, really? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, Dauphin, kurt, New Rule

    coming from a girl architect, that's different (from my childhood).

    Since the late 1990s, preteen girls have seldom strayed from answering veterinarian, nurse, teacher, doctor, architect, artist, writer, singer, actress, volleyball player, or the like

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 01:39:21 PM PDT

  •  why don't girls want to be video game (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, kurt

    designers?

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 01:43:11 PM PDT

    •  Probably because (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weck, StrangeAnimals, greengemini, kurt

      most of them don't play the same video games the boys do.

      Girls in general don't like most of the video games out there. Most of them are shoot em up things, and girls in general aren't that into them.

      Since most game designers tend to be guys, they design games they'd like to play - and they don't like the same things preteen/teen girls do.

      The game designer who comes up with the killer app for pre-teen/teen girls will make a fortune.

      •  I remember reading that something like 47% (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        weck, bluebird of happiness, kyril, kurt

        Of new gamers are women. But the point about game design is well-taken. The stereotypical consumer is still the teenaged male, and it is difficult to find more intellectually challenging games as well as games for women. Not impossible, though.

        Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

        by Dauphin on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:18:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think girls find most video games boring; they (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garrett, greengemini

      lack actual human interaction and are kind of repetitive.  Why would anyone want to spend their work life setting up things for other people to do? I always wanted to do something with my time.  

      If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

      by weck on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 01:51:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  First of all, (5+ / 0-)

        most modern games are multiplayer and involve a ton of 'actual human interaction'. Far more than watching a movie or reading a book, leisure activities that many girls enjoy very much.

        Secondly, creating an entire virtual world from the ground up is very much 'doing something' with your time. Game design is a form of art not entirely dissimilar from film - and in fact, many film schools have added game design programs because the similarities are so strong.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:12:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not anti-gaming, I'm just a girl who thinks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Prof Haley

          online interaction is not as satisfying for girls as it is for boys.  I haven't felt the need for an avatar, and I thought that spending fifty cents for a round of Pong was a waste of money.  Sorry you got your dander up at me, but the games I like to play require me to actually see the other players so I can tell what they are thinking and that they are enjoying themselves.

          If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

          by weck on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:22:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Many gamers (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            weck, kurt, softserve

            enjoy in-person interaction. LAN parties are a major part of PC gamer culture, and in-person multiplayer is many boys' and men's favourite mode of console gaming.

            The PC/console gaming community also has heavy overlap with the pen-and-paper and trading-card gaming communities, both of which are incredibly social genres played exclusively in person and are nevertheless just as male-dominated as videogaming if not more so.

            I'm not 'getting my dander up'. I just honestly think you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Which is reflective of the real problem: women and girls are kept at such a distance from gaming that you don't even know what it entails. There's an ongoing dialogue among gamers about sexism and the hostile environment that we've created, but we're short on female voices in the discussion, because we've done such a good job driving women and girls away that most of you are convinced that you don't even care.

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 03:18:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  (it doesn't help (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            weck, kurt, New Rule

            that we do such a bad job of listening to the women and people of color who actually are present. Truth is that it really is male gamers' responsibility to change the culture and its public perception. But it's a seriously challenging issue because it's self-perpetuating - we keep out so many of the people who have the education and experience that might help us stop keeping them out. It's quite similar to sports culture in that way, but we're a few decades behind.)

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 03:43:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've tried to get interested, truly, since Pong, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              StrangeAnimals

              when that game was more expensive than a draft beer.  I lived with gamers until recently. It would have been great to like the games the boys played, but I don't.  I spent an entire day on a "Traveler" game, (once was enough), I was there when the interactive tank games didn't yet have graphics.

               I don't think you are bad for not having enough women, it might be acceptable to just acknowledge that most gaming is more interesting to men than women and not worry about gaming culture. If you want to be around women more, you will do things that are interesting to women.  I am a big sports fan, perhaps because you can see the contest and the rules are not evolving faster than I can keep up with.  (Hockey rules give me fits!)

              When you are done playing your game, you will have a trophy or experience points. When I am done with my "couponing" shopping trip, I will have food and the exhilaration of the hunt and the saving of the green. It's just different strokes for different folks.  

              If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

              by weck on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:02:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I just remembered, I liked "Lemonade Stand" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril

                and "Trucker",  early games that were used in business classes to illustrate supply/demand/price and decision making in business.  I used them in my classes, and enjoyed playing them, but like most simulations you soon learn the boundries of the game and unless you know cheat codes, or additional parameters are added in an update, interest fades.

                 The people you play with have infinate variety, but the games are like any other man-made simulation...limited to the designer's imagination.  Are there IA games now that can have the players devise new skills or scenarios ? (Like AD&D could be adapted as needed)?

                If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

                by weck on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:21:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There are (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  weck, Lasgalen Lothir, kurt, softserve

                  I mentioned below that many modern games come with world-building software that actually allows players to create not only new maps but entirely different games with new rulesets.

                  "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                  by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:41:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •   The % of women who play games is actually high (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril

            I don't know, the amount of females on social networks like Facebook and Pinterest (and hell, DailyKos?) as well as the ones playing Sims 3 and stuff like Farmville kind of seem like they fly in the face of assumptions about the type of interaction women prefer as a whole.

            The percentage of women who play games is actually quite high based on readily available studies.

        •  ...and a lot of MMOs... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, softserve

          ...have a lot more girls and women playing them than people think.

          Of the six lead characters on Felicia Day's online show "The Guild" (which is about MMORPGs), three of them are women gamers, and I have to say, they're all "types" I recognize myself.

      •  It's the same general creative appeal (7+ / 0-)

        of art, craft, design, and the like.

        Any computer programmer has an interest in style. Very similar to what writers, musicians, visual artists and the like have. The interest in expressive style and a feeling of creativity goes on even in corporate and business programming.

    •  Institutional misogyny (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      is one big reason.

  •  My nephew wants to be (7+ / 0-)

    a professional athlete and I'd much rather he wanted to be a video game designer. We can never plan time to get together because there's always weekend games, travel games, tournaments. We could go, I suppose, and sit on a bench and yell at him. His dad acts more like his coach. The kid might study but he doesn't seem to have any interest in what he's learning, it's more like learn and regurgitate then forget.

    Any kid who seriously wants to be a game designer is going to soon learn he (or she) has to learn a lot of math and logic to make the game work. And there has to be an interesting subject to base that game on. Maybe they'll get into medieval history so they can create a world. Or maybe their creative mind will think up something wacky like the jello car app and they'll have to apply cartoon physics to make things work.

    In my senior year of college, we got our first computer graphics class and we art students had to venture into the computer lab. I found out those computer students were crazy creative, on par with some of the art students. I married a computer nerd and have lots of computer nerd friends. They're fun, creative, interested and interesting people. I find your diary needlessly and laughably alarmist.

    Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

    by Debby on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:12:14 PM PDT

  •  Hello! This is GOOD NEWS (8+ / 0-)

    The goal of "video game designer" is in fact a lot MORE positive and realistic than the classic "fireman" or "pro ball player". The courses they will take in school toward that goal will give them a background of computer-based skills that will serve them well when they enter the workforce, even if they end up pursuing a different IT-related job. Plus there are a LOT of positions in computer/mobile gaming, and likely to be more of them in the future.

    The time spent playing games is a separate problem, one that parents should definitely be working on - if they can tear themselves away from Words with Friends and Facebook, that is!

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 02:29:36 PM PDT

  •  alarmed yet intrigued (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, StrangeAnimals, Garrett, kurt, New Rule

    I love the comments in this thread (yes, I have read them all).

    On the one hand, I get where the author is coming from. I am the mother of a 13 year old boy with ADHD who spends virtually (little pun there, sorry) every waking hour of his life in front of a screen running around in other universes. He plays mostly World of Warcraft and Skyrim, and introduced me to a real work of artistic & literary genius (in my opinion) - a game called "Dear Esther" - which is not a game so much as an interactive novel with divergent threads that all lead to the same conclusion. The artwork is beautiful, the writing is atmospheric - it's really cool. Bleak, but cool.

    I was trained in fine arts and graphic design...and wish I knew how to design games or get a job working for a gaming company. The technology is amazing, but I don't know the technology side of it.

    So yeah, he says he wants to design games. Will he ever learn the skills to actually design them? Not from playing, but what he does learn, from interacting with other players, is to improve his vocabulary, and about social and political issues that he asks me about later. He's becoming a good writer, composing descriptions of his characters, teaching classes, role-playing wholeheartedly.

    What would it look like if someone came up with an interesting and aesthetically appealing interactive player-to-player environment that had educational value but wasn't obviously "educational software"? Most "educational" software is like a workbook only on the computer - lame and boring. Making something into a "game" doesn't make it fun or interesting or motivating.

    Are there ways that real life applications of, for example, math skills, could be built in as incidentals to doing stuff in a game? Seems like they already have money, auctions, trading, accumulating points. It would be interesting to think of insidious ways to build a real-world knowledge base into the software.

    And, as a "girl" - yeah, I don't really want to play any of those games because most of them are about killing things. I'd rather grow things and not be at risk of being killed while doing it. I want to build cool buildings, and to make ugly landscapes beautiful. I want to create characters. I want to experience a story. I want to be god in my own universe. And I want the universe I'm a god of to be a way to realize a personal vision - not a tacky suburban barbie dream house place, but a positive, humane, and intellectually stimulating place, as ripe with possibility as a blank canvas.

    Could there be a game that helps people create a game?

    For those of us who can't afford to travel, online games provide views of places that we can be immersed in.

    Games can be an art form, or people can use them like a drug - but I think it's a medium, like television (as they used to say in the olden days) that has enormous potential. Whether that potential will be realized and remain commercially viable, who knows?

    •  Games kept my ADHD son's mind busy when high (5+ / 0-)

      school could not,  He still plays and sometimes sets up scenarios for others to play in (AD&D, WarHammer?)  He also designed a card game.  He still does other stuff, but he is a whole human being.  I'm glad he is a gamer, but he doesn't play at games all the time.

      If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

      by weck on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 03:24:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Taking your questions one at a time: (6+ / 0-)
      What would it look like if someone came up with an interesting and aesthetically appealing interactive player-to-player environment that had educational value but wasn't obviously "educational software"?
      PC games - especially roleplaying games - are educational software. Just some of the skills learned are:

      Mathematical intuition. Almost all roleplaying games are numbers-based resource-management games; to play them well, you need to develop some very strong mathematical intuition.

      Example: Let's say I'm playing a healer in a multiplayer roleplaying game. I have, say, 10 abilities at my disposal. Each one costs a different amount and heals for a different amount on a different number of targets. My targets are being damaged at different rates; my goal is to keep all their health levels from reaching zero. I need to make constant decisions about which ability to use based on my available resources, my projected resources over time, and the current health levels and rate of incoming damage and the costs and benefits of each of my abilities.

      It's actually a very complex problem. I'm working on designing a program to model it more accurately than existing tools do, but it's not easy at all. And yet gamers do the rough calculations constantly in our heads.

      Mathematical modeling. In many cases, especially at advanced levels of play, the intuitive/estimation method isn't adequate; I need to work out a precise strategy or a precise priority order for my abilities. I may also need to consider the abilities of other players in my group to work out a strategy.

      In addition, if I believe that my character is underpowered or overpowered compared to another class of character, I need to be able to demonstrate that mathematically in order to convince the designers to change something.

      Economics. If I want to operate in a virtual economy, I need to understand laws of supply and demand; if I want to become wealthy, I need to work with mathematical models of the economy, perform substantial market research, and generally learn how a market works.

      The scientific method and statistical analysis. If I'm part of a beta test, or if I believe that a game/patch has gone live with something not working properly, I need to perform experiments to demonstrate that it's not working. Since many abilities involve a 'chance' for something to occur, I have to design my experiment to demonstrate that the 'something' isn't occurring at the intended frequency.

      The scientific method is also used to figure out how game mechanics work when their internal numbers aren't exposed. For instance, gamers perform experiments to determine the actual chances for certain events to occur; to determine the distribution of a set of numerical values; and many, many other things.

      Physics. Many modern games have very sophisticated physics engines, and so there are games that revolve largely or even entirely around solving physics puzzles. Portal is the prime example.

      Computer programming. Many modern games allow some form of user interface modification. This is accomplished by writing code in a scripting language (usually Lua). Some user interface mods are highly sophisticated; others are simpler projects made by beginners. Game UI design is an amazing way to get into programming because even a new coder can produce useful results using relatively basic skills.

      Are there ways that real life applications of, for example, math skills, could be built in as incidentals to doing stuff in a game?
      Part of this is answered above - it's already happening within the games.

      However, since you brought up 'incidentals': It's also happening to an even greater degree outside the games. We call it 'theorycrafting'. Gamers build incredibly sophisticated computer models of everything from combat to the economy. I can't even brush the surface - if you don't know the games, you won't know what I'm talking about - but it's at least worth mentioning.

      Also incidental to gameplay are educational experiences like video production (you wouldn't believe how many game-related videos there are on Youtube), creative writing (roleplaying stories),

      Could there be a game that helps people create a game?
      Many (perhaps most) modern PC games ship with game-modification software.

      Originally, mods were relatively limited affairs that basically allowed the player to create a new map using the artwork provided with the game/

      However, we've come a very long way since then. The Starcraft II map editor is so powerful that it actually allows you to create completely different games with different rules. And when I say "completely different", I really mean it - people have actually used the Starcraft II editor to create games in different genres entirely. (And someone used the original Starcraft editor to create their very own genre of game.)

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:02:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding math... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, kurt, softserve

        ...one of the players in City of Heroes is an absolutely brilliant math whiz, on par with my high school best friend, who was a bona fide math genius.  She cracked the game's combat engine, using careful observation and data analysis, well before the developers revealed the "real numbers" (which they might as well not have done, since she was right, it turned out).

        It's one aspect of gamers that I both like and hate--the "min-maxers".   But, undoubtedly, it takes talent to see numbers the way they do.

  •  This is a sad perspective really. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm in my mid 30's now and if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was 11-12 I would have definitely responded "Video Game Programmer". In part, I already was at this age thanks to my trusty Commodore 64 although I hadn't created anything marketable at the time. I have to admit it's pretty depressing to hear you equate playing video games with creating them, although most people involved in video game development are also avid players.

    What really strikes me as hilarious is that the author somehow managed to write a diary about video game programming without apparently having any idea what's actually involved in the process. Just as a short list, anyone who wanted to be involved with creating video games either needs at least a BS in Computer Science on the programming side, and would have to be an accomplished graphic artist/3d modeler on the art assets side (which probably also means a degree). How funny is it that you think you boys specifying a future career that almost certainly includes a college degree with a heavy emphasis on math & science as a negative thing. While I do not develop games professionally (I am a hobby game dev) I have my early love of video games to thank for my current career in software development. What an awful diary, two thumbs down.

    •  Did we read the same article? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrangeAnimals, jbob

      Despite saying they want to become game developers, these are boys who do not study those things the author knows they need to study in order to fulfill that dream.

      I know guys just like that. All grown up now, still playing video games, and saying they could be programmers if they spent some time on it. Working at McDonalds...

      •  How do you know they don't study those things? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, kurt, softserve

        All she talked about was the survey, then went on a pages-long tirade about video games themselves.  This wasn't a longitudinal study--it didn't follow through on what these boys actually did.

        And does it really matter if it did?  A lot of girls say "ballerina" and grow up to become accountants.  Some may even still dance for enjoyment.  So what?  (And before you say "but video games are a waste of time and they make you fat!", I submit reading--also a waste of time that makes you fat, but no one's going to trash it.)

        •  Come on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          And furthermore, ANYONE can work at McDonalds. Is anyone really going to argue that most McDonalds workers grew up playing games more than anything else?

          There's not any proof (and I'd be surprised if there ever was) that someone who plays more video games winds up working crappier jobs because they apparently are incapable of having other hobbies. What a ridiculous generalization.

          Many people I know play video games. Most of this country now plays video games. It's a  character flaw now to want to work in an industry that affords you entertainment?

          I loved and do love games. I enjoy playing them, I make things in them. Guess what? I also am married, I draw, I play music, I write, I take care of animals. I mean, what is the point here?

          Gaming companies hire programmers, designers, artists, writers, PR people, everything under the sun. I wanted to work on video games and guess what? I went to freaking college because anyone who plays games knows you'd have to do that.

          And I found that, hey, I won't like making video games. But I do like graphic and web design and now I work on learning management systems for colleges.

          The comments and diary against games here imply something there is no evidence of whatsoever. Correlation does not prove causation -- and considering there's no data set about what these kids actually turned out to do then what exactly is any of this based upon? A bunch of assumptions of their lives by people who think video games are for lazy dorks?

        •  I've taught in high school (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbob, New Rule

          You really ought to take a look at academic development. While there are programming classes in a few high schools, boys are working less hard on academics and girls are working harder.

          Check the statistics of who goes to college. It's girls. Boys are increasingly unprepared to go to college because they are unmotivated to take the hard courses they need to in order to achieve at a high level. Or they get lower grades because of it.

          I see parents increasingly handing off the responsibility for their sons' future to the boys themselves, then being surprised when it comes time to apply to college to find that the boys are not going to get into a good school, and aren't going to get a scholarship.

      •  Okay, but.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        Not everyone who wants to be baseball player, rock star, or astronaut ends up actually being those things either. Most of them end up in shit jobs like everyone else. The point is that the author is being incredibly negative about a field that is in many ways a very, very respectable field.

  •  What does this mean: "once measured then roomed"? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, kurt

    Physical measurements? Are they being put in an interview room?

    Really. Maybe this is physician lingo.

  •  Thank You ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    I remember it like yesterday in 1969 when a friend, that was in the computer science department UC Berkeley, let me sit down at a CDC 6400 timeshare terminal, and introduced me to Adventure. I said to my self this is addicting. Computers have come a long way since then.

    JON

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 03:56:29 PM PDT

  •  Stereotype much? (8+ / 0-)

    Sorry, mate, you don't know the entirely of gamer-hood.  And using the basement dweller stereotype does you no favors.

    You should have, instead, probed into why these kids are not looking at professions beyond the entertainment sphere.  What is the root cause?  Why is gender profession preference, in your small study, so different?

    Instead this is just a rant against those damn Pac-Man arcade games.

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:06:18 PM PDT

  •  are you aware of the skills it takes (5+ / 0-)

    of the skills it takes to play video games.  besides hand/eye coordination there's team building, interpersonal relations and beaucoup problem solving skills.  

    and designing the games is way tougher. the gaming companies are hiring people with freakin' doctorates in math and physics to get the most accurate visual portrayal of real life motion.  Random characters are generated with advanced statistics.  The competition to have the most real world like milieu(s) has caused some very deep and intense thinking in areas such as economics, sociology and areas very far removed from just the physics of optics and motion.  (i.e. SimCity, Farmville)

    there is an absolute HUGE amount of thinking and creativity that goes into the development of video games (and entertainment in general) now.  But don't take my word for it.  Reamde is a butt-kickingly fun reads that also give pretty deep insight into video game creation, management and the cyber economy.    

    now, i'm not sayin' spending 10k/hrs playing video games is the best use of time and i kinda' wish i'd gotten in a little more biking and a little less Dukes of Hazzard.  What I AM saying is do NOT discount what it takes to create a successful video game or even bring one to release.  It reminds me of the parental types who criticized Dungeons & Dragons without having a clue as to what it took to create a coherant world to game in.

    "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face" & "Polka will never die." - H. Dresden.

    by bnasley on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 05:25:42 PM PDT

  •  Pay Scales for Video Game Designers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbob

    I've read in several places that video game companies demand horrible amounts of unpaid overtime from their employees, which turns an OK-paying job into slave labor. I doubt an eleven year old understands what consistently working 60 to 80 hour weeks means to their quality of life. If these boys continue to hanker for life as a video game designer, the companies will be able to drop their pay scales lower, and still demand ungodly amounts of time at the keyboard.

    •  Assuming this is true... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      ...and I'm not going to assume that it is, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend, for the moment, that it is:

      Lawyers are often expected to work 60-80 hour work weeks.  So are a lot of other salaried professionals.

      I doubt the claim is true, though.

      •  There is a difference (0+ / 0-)

        The little I have read has stated that the pressure never ends for Video Game Programmers; 60 and 80 hour weeks can go on for months, if not years. Being a professional, I have worked 60 and 80 hour weeks. However, no one works this kind of schedule all year around, at least not if they are planning to do it for 30 years.  The other difference is that lawyers and other professionals usually have some authority over how they do their job. They will get a general assignment, and structure the assignment how they see fit.

  •  This diary is chock full of doomsaying. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justalittlebitcrazy, kyril, kurt
  •  Of the girls (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, kurt, New Rule

    None of them want to be scientists, engineers, or software programmers????

    That is what depresses me!

  •  How is this any different... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, kurt
    It is for this reason we should fret when so many male youth today see their future as simply an extension of their twitchy-thumbed childhood.
    As opposed to:

    So many male youth today see their future as simply an extension of their sports-filled childhood.

    You make the argument that kids today are sticking to their childhood past-times of TODAY, as opposed to them sticking to YOUR childhood past-times of YESTERDAY.

    I grew up when the Internet was getting big, I went through my teens as an avid gamer and stopped playing sports.  

    Now I have a Science degree, a Masters in business, and work at a successful software company.  And I still play games 20-ish hours a week.  Most of my friends took the same path.  

    Playing games as a youth, especially from my generation, has set most of us up with the analytical skills and interest in science and technology to make something of ourselves.  

    I'm pretty sure my contribution to society is much more important than had I become an overpaid celebrity who is famous for running around for 2 hours getting sweaty.

    GOD! Save me from your followers.

    by adversus on Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 08:48:48 PM PDT

    •  Grousing about today's youth is to be expected (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbob, Azazello, New Rule

      I happen to believe that children's job is to play, and sports is definitely part of that. One teacher I know of claims that the children she sees in class are not developing gross motor skills, because they spend all their time indoors, engrossed in TV, Internet, and video games. Here in Alaska, the weather can make playing outside a chore. This emphasis on sedentary entertainment contributes to the obesity epidemic this country is now facing.

  •  I've read most, not all, of the comments and (0+ / 0-)

    lots of folks made good points pro and con.  My thoughts are:

    I think you're on to a good point and correct to voice an alarm.  I've never been an avid sports fan, and believe athletics are often over-hyped.  Yet, it's important for young people to be active for the sake of developing their bodies and to learn the lessons of life often presented on full display... how popularity and appearance and many other factors determine who is among the chosen to play and who isn't...and so on.  The winning and losing aspect of athletics has clearly gone awry...  It's the trying that should count.

    We are facing an epidemic of obesity.  Sitting on one's ass contributes.  Gaming's contribution should be a concern.

    The violence in many games is gratuitous and desensitizes the realities of war, death, injury and so on.  Great training ƒor drone pilots who incinerate people and then step out for a latte without a second thought.  

    I'd also say the comments about equating reading to gaming are just foolish and so wrong-headed as to make refutation just an opportunity for more indignant blather from the hopelessly offended.

       

    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 07:02:06 AM PDT

    •  Assumptions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      There are role-playing games that have the equivalent of 20,000 pages of text in them for players to read. I think that correlation is a lot less ridiculous than you're making it sound. One of the first games I played was before voice acting, it had tons of text and it was written in olde English. Guess what helped me get somewhere with reading as a kid and move on to books? I'm not alone there.

      Most games are not war based and most are not rated M for mature. Most games have violence that's barely beyond an average cartoon. You choose to ignore the majority in favor of what fits this argument.

      Furthermore, youth violence has gone down since the release of Doom in the 90s. The very game that started the trend of blaming violent games for social ills. There's no proven correlation there whatsoever.

      Hell, studies have shown that RACING games make people feel more angry and antagonistic than shooters.

  •  As an internet software developer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    during the day and a gamer at night I can tell you that one helps the other.

    Video games teach problem solving skills - just like the ones I use at work every day.

    I am 43, 5' 11 and 205 lbs.   No sign of diabetes yet.

    Which is good news for John McCain.

    by AppleP on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 09:44:45 AM PDT

  •  problem= asian gamers prefer asian gaiming designr (0+ / 0-)

    the Korean MMO companys turn out the most beautiful graphic games

    no non korean gaming company has ever gotten close in beauty of graphics

    Asian gamers also prefer GRIND GRIND GRIND FEST! without much story as vs western gamers preferring story over grind fest thus why western games get more grind fest added when putting into asian markets and asian games get story added just for western customers when breaking into western areas

    asian gamers have more than enough asian gaming companys churning out stuff that they don't need
    ....

    Our nation’s future prosperity would appear to rest on an emerging market of a billion or more young Asian consumers with an unquenchable thirst for American-­made video games to occupy the coming glut of basement-­dwelling game designers with suspect hygiene.
  •  How nice would it be if we could get back to only (0+ / 0-)

    needing one income to support a family, and either a mother or a father could, you know, actually raise their children like we used to?

    Thank you Walmart, for setting the stage for society to think it can get away with paying substandard-of-living wages to workers so that every family member is inextricably bound to the workforce and, yes, the government!

    I wish our political leaders would DO something about that ugly corporation and the destruction it has wrought.

    Stop the party of Gut & Spend policies that gut our Earned Benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare and spends on tax breaks for the wealthy elite.

    by jillwklausen on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 04:08:35 PM PDT

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