The Cultural Effects of Video Gaming1 | 2 |
Set in a science-fiction galaxy tens of thousands of years in the future, players can select professions — ranging from commodities trader to battle fleet commander to pirate — and begin a journey in search of fame, fortune and adventure.
The game allows players to hone a variety of skills, including strategizing and leadership capabilities.
“[A player] can choose to become an industrialist [or] focus on production, mining or trade, and in those professions they are basically training themselves in standard business skills such as production management, logistics, cost-effectiveness of production and market analysis, which are the basic questions of economic management,” said Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, lead economist at CCP, the developer and publisher of “EVE Online.”
“They can train in leadership [through the] management of large corporations and diplomacy in order to have negotiations and discussions with allies about common goals or [finding ways] to outsmart their enemies,” Guðmundsson explained. “All these professions train [people] in decision making, planning and strategic management. It’s a perfect business training platform.”
Guðmundsson is assigned the task of monitoring the in-game economics at any given time. In addition, he publishes reports on the markets and trade that occur within the game, affecting not only the daily operation of the game but also its future development.
In the same way entrepreneurs and executives rely on real-world economic indicators to make astute decisions, those who play “EVE Online” count on such updates and analysis, said the company CEO, Hilmar Pétursson, in a news release.
In fact, “EVE Online” recently broke a record for the most simultaneous online users, mustering more than 50,000 at a given time. That, plus the nearly quarter of a million subscribers, ensures a vibrant online society of gamers.
“We have a small, functioning economy and have even started the first steps toward democracy [through] a council of representatives elected by the players in a democratic election,” Guðmundsson said. “[The council members] discuss future development of ‘EVE’ [with CCP].”
A Therapeutic Device
Repurposing games to make them profitable in the business world is one thing, but research has shown that games can be exceptionally effective in the medical arena as well.
“Initially, the thought was that it’s a form of entertainment, but we realized that video games could be a very effective tool for pain management,” said Kristin Lindsay, coordinator at Child’s Play, a charity with the primary goal of enriching the lives of hospitalized children.
The focus of the nonprofit is to help bring video games to hospitalized children, both for entertainment and also because scientific studies have shown that playing games helps patients heal faster with a reduced need for pain medication.
“There are dozens of medical studies for using video games in various medical applications — including pain management, physical therapy, emotional well-being for long-term hospitalization, and socialization,” Lindsay said.
Video games also allow patients to connect with others, remain socially active and even develop relationships.
“For [some], it’s not just the distraction of the game and the fun of playing it, but knowing that they’re not alone, that other kids are going through the same thing as they are and forming friendships,” Lindsay said.
“These kids are being isolated for medical reasons, and that hurts them psychologically,” she added. “Having that arena where they can play online games and talk to other people, just getting out in a virtual way and being able to interact with other people, is psychologically very important. And that psychological benefit has definite ramifications in terms of pain management.”
Kehoe also is involved with a project in tandem with NJIT’s biomedical engineering program on the premise that robotic arm interfaces will help with the rehabilitation of patients suffering from cerebral palsy, strokes or other physical disabilities.
“We’re creating a gaming environment to keep them interested and to mask what they’re doing with an entertainment feel to it,” Kehoe said. “What they’re doing in real life is moving their arms or hands or whatever they’re working on in specific patterns with measurable results, but what they think they’re doing is playing a game.”
– Deanna Hartley, email@example.com
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