Now this was interesting. There are probably many subjects that I know little about, but this one I could rightly say that I know nothing about. I have never enjoyed video games, and as much as my daughter tries to get me to play “Let’s Dance” on the Wii, I have only participated once – and poorly.
Jamin, editor and creator of Killscreen journal, took the stage and quickly proved to be an engaging speaker. He suggested that “video gaming” represents one of the most significant generational divides in our culture. Individuals over 50 (my generation) participate little in gaming, while persons under 35 find it common experience. The average age of a “gamer” is currently 33, and he noted that the industry does more than $40 billion dollars a year in sales. He noted that the game “Call of Duty” accounted for more than $1 billion in sales in six months! I think his main point is that the gaming industry is significant in terms of influence and impact on a broad segment of our culture – particularly persons that are under 35.
Jamin argued that the stereotype of “gamers” and gaming is often wrong – an isolated individual locked in a room with his or her computer playing for hours. While he or she might be playing for hours, it is far more likely that the “gamer” is working in teams with others in the game environment. Most gaming activity is done in community. He also argued that people are more likely to show who they really are while playing games. There is a level of transparency that emerges and also a sense of learning to play with others. I do not know how much of this is reality, but it certainly was an interesting perspective.
You might be wondering, and certainly I was, why this presentation was part of a “Q” conference. Jamin really did not talk about how he integrated his Christian faith in the gaming environment. Why is video-gaming important to pay attention to in a conference on faith questions? It took me awhile, but then it dawned on me that one of the primary experiences of the generation we are now educating is video gaming. They learn and interact in ways that are totally alien to my generation. That is what he meant by a generational divide. How are the experiences of video gaming impacting the way students view the classroom and the church? Should this be important to those of us who are shaping these environments? When I consider this, I keep thinking of how ridiculous I look trying to do the Russian dance with my daughter on the Wii.