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Why computer games aren't just for children

First Impressions: Game origins and functions
Target Audience: Game developments and genres

First Impressions: Game origin and functions

There is a common misconception that computer games are for children. This means much of the attention they receive in mainstream media involves their affect on youth, without considering if the games in question are actually intended for them. It also ignores a large part of the gaming audience: adults.

A computer game can be considered interactive entertainment media and, like any type of entertainment media, it has a variety of genres. However, there is still a narrow stereotype of games as being mindless action and simplistic arcade style. This is like assuming all films are like the summer action blockbuster, of which one has only seen a brief preview. In addition, many games are intended for both adults and a younger audience and it could be argued that some games can only be fully appreciated by a more mature mind. The computer medium can provide a great emotional impact, due to its immersive nature and the level to which the player must actively participate in the progression of the game.

What someone can get from this form of media depends on the focus of each game. Some are more action-oriented, using hand-eye coordination, judgement of timing, and quick decision-making. There are also those that focus on strategy infinitely more complex than any game of chess, requiring careful planning and foresight, as well as comprehension of complex rules. Others focus more on telling a story and providing a role-playing experience, where the player is directly responsible for the actions of the main character and the progression of the story. This can be an involving, emotional experience in the hands of a talented game designer. However, more and more games are falling between these types and the line between different game genres has become blurred. Still, the basic appeal of each of these qualities remains, no matter how they are combined. In fact, their combination may well allow for appeal to a greater audience base.

The attention and stereotypes surrounding games seem to be dominantly generated by those relying dominantly on player skill, without a focus on story development. So, when a game of cards, baseball, or chess can be taken seriously as entertainment or competition for adults, why not a game on a computer? They both require similar development of skill or understanding of the game rules. In fact, sometimes more creativity and innovation can be used to exploit the game world in ways that the designer didn't anticipate, when playing a game that involves a physics engine, for example. With the advent of multi-player gaming, action gaming has literally become a team sport.The level foresight and tactics required in the more strategy focused games is at least as great as that of other less physically demanding non-computer games. The reason can't be that computer games are too simple because they are becoming more complex all the time.


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