Top 5: How Video Games Change the World

Duke's Victoria Szabo discusses the economic and social influences of video games

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Duke professor Victoria Szabo believes video gaming technology is changing the world. We don't think she's referring specifically to these four dudes.

As a visual studies professor and co-director of Duke's Greater Than Games Lab, Victoria Szabo focuses her work on digital places and spaces. She often focuses on "hybrid reality" systems that take advantage of games, mobile devices and other media to enrich history and culture.

While video games are a huge part of contemporary culture, society is just starting to appreciate its potential as a new genre for creative and critical expression.

Here Szabo gives five reasons why everyone should be paying attention to video games and their potential to change the world.

1. The real world is alread being printed out from virtual 3D models

We've always relied on drawings, diagrams, and prototypes during the design process, but now otherwise impossible 3D objects can be printed right from the computer. The barrier between the virtual and physical worlds is thinner than ever! 

2. Collaborative quests are a good practice for working-world group activities

Companies regularly consider people who become a good guild-master in the World of Warcraft video game to be effective leaders. The role involves coordinating diverse groups of people in remote locations to come together on a task. Being a good team member also involves recognizing and working from your strengths. How might we leverage such skills in other distributed work contexts?

3. Avatar identities generally mirror real-world personae

Video game researchers have discovered that despite the potential to explore new identities that such systems seem to allow, people tend to play themselves. This opens up a lot of space for effective online training, remote work-group collaboration and, as authoring grows more accessible, "serious game" activities like online therapy and conflict negotiation, too.

4. "Gamification" through quests, badges and other game-derived concepts are just hipster ways to talk about milestones and goal-setting

We have always used incremental, task-based approaches to teaching, learning, work and skills development. Adding in gaming introduces elements of fun and competition into what could otherwise be seen as drudgery.

5. Video game releases rake in more money than Hollywood in opening week sales

That's a lot of impact! We need to stop thinking of games as a geeky side market and instead think of them as part of mainstream culture and as an emerging art form. From there we can introduce game-based features like interactive narrative and non-linear storytelling into existing media forms.