Is the gaming industry entertainment killing our brain cells? Or is killing brain cells entertaining us? A sub-culture, rapidly taking over lives of post-x-generations, is often wrongly accused of instigating violence with its superficial display of brutality and carnage. Second only to television and film, gaming is easily blamed for putting ideas of battles and fighting into young minds.

The Claim on the Game:

In an attempt to smash the popular parental belief that gaming promotes time suckage, fervent gamer and game designer, Ameen Essam Roayan, takes us into the psyche of the gaming community. “It’s not fair to put this blame on our industry,” says Roayan. “We take measures to inform consumers about the content of each game they purchase. You will find ratings by the ESRB on covers of these games so that guardians and parents of our young consumers have the liberty to choose what is acceptable and what is not.” Unfortunately, retail stores selling these games in Saudi Arabia seem to overlook the warning labels, unlike other countries where purchasing by minors is monitored carefully. The begging question becomes: Should retailers be held accountable for selling unsuitable violent content to minors? That is a whole other discussion. The violence on the surface is inconsequential. Once that outer layer is peeled off, we come face to face with tasks that ultimately sharpen underdeveloped problem-solving and strategy-planning skills.

The Psyche of a Game Player:

Playing these games is widely known to incite several emotions from players, such as a sense of accomplishment when one overcomes a level or defeats an enemy, motivation to advance to the next level, and to some others, even hope for an alternate life that can be customized according to one’s own preferences. “When a player enters a game, he creates a character that expands in ability and skill with each level. The exhilaration of manipulating this character to defeat an antagonist within the game impels the player to keep going.” “Additionally, the player can perform feats that are, in real life, virtually impossible. For instance, I (or my character) can take a motorcycle and ride it down the length of the Empire State Building. A suicide attempt? Yes. But most importantly, an attempt to calculate speed against a whole range of physics and elements. ”Taking these emotions into consideration plays a huge role in developing a game.

Creating the Game Culture:

Research comes in first. Game designers spend a lot of time brainstorming, pitching ideas, and researching every aspect of the target market – from their lifestyles to their hobbies to what holds their interests. Game features must relate to the target market so that it appeals to them. This begs the question, are we ready for a gaming sub-culture? Roayan says we just might be. “What we lack primarily is exposure to this industry.” He believes the communications industry can play a role, “Marketing is key.

Granted, there would be adjustments according to the market. However, basic exposure to the games currently available would open the door to a different kind of pastime – something that would develop skills instead of the popular mindless activity of haunting the streets,” Royan suggests. Is it really absurd to suggest that we round up local game designers and have them produce a game that Jeddah gamers can relate to? Not completely absurd, apparently. The research would be so much easier to pull off, as we ourselves are part of the market. It could turn out to be a big hit, with features such as, the wildly popular, Tahliah Street and some Jeddawi lingo. It would be a lot of fun, much like a huge inside joke. At the very least, the thought tempts experiment.

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