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Weekly #6: The only game I know is Hopscotch, and that’s in my first life

Once upon a time, the best thing to do when you go home from school in the afternoon was to RUN not walk to the nearest playground, neighbor’s house or basketball court and meet your friends for camaraderie and fun. The only real challenge was how to best maximize your time before dinner and homework with hitting the jungle gym or playing soccer in the street. Before the readings for this week, these were the only “games” I knew.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

Our topic this week was something I can say with 110% certainly I knew nothing about, and about which I am still quite ignorant. Games, gaming and the industry of these activities is about as foreign to me as calculus, and likely for the a similar reasons: I just don’t get it.

Nonetheless, I joined SecondLife. Arguably the largest internet gaming platform, withe more than 12 million paying users worldwide in 2010, clearly a few people are interested. However, for someone who hasn’t seen the remote control in nearly 3 months and couldn’t care less about the difference between Playstation, Wii or Xbox, I wasn’t very excited about this new foray into another source of distraction, in my opinion.

Janelle Cliassi, my pseudonym, a striking brunette, navigated her way through the “world” of second life. The system allows you to connect with friends, purchase property- you can own a second home, build a booming business or even fall in love. I checked out the lands of Nemo, Moose Bay and tried to understand the Linden currency of this strange world.

As you might have guessed after 15 minutes, I was not only dis-interested, but disturbed. This is just too bizzarre for me- I have enough domestic, financial, and friendship issues to deal with in “real life”- why in the WORLD would I need to start again?!

To be honest, in thinking about gaming, something struck me.  Back in February, (2010) Michelle Obama announced a new campaign, Let’s Move, aimed directly at fighting childhood obesity and getting children to eat better, exercise more and, bluntly- get moving. In this Second Life, there’s no room for the typical activities- such as getting outside, for one, that so many (children and adults) enjoy. No matter how many properties, friends or dollars you amass in second life, you’re still in front of a computer screen.

About 4-5 months ago, one of my best friends’ husbands took the day off for the release of a video game. Duty 3: Modern Warfare. This blew my mind. Staying home for a VIDEO game?! What I couldn’t understand was the substantial part of his life that this particular activity took.

Although it’s not for me, after researching and studying this week, it does seem that long gone are the simple days of hopscotch. The future of games and gaming, in my opinion, focus on the interactive, socially independent, and realistically-unrealistic forms of entertainment online. Avenues for advertising aside, I do hope that those 12 million people don’t forget to actually get out sometime.

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