As Wendy Kays points out in her Game Widow, video games are not just for the fifteen to thirty-five-year old males, it has now successfully leaped from consoles and personal computers to mobile phones, game systems and personal data assistants. Consequently, their customers now have spread to males and females of all ages. There are even grandparents who are hooked who not only buy the games for themselves but also for their grandchildren. Did you know, as Kays mentions, that in 2006 Americans alone purchased close to $13.5 billion in console, portable, and PC game hardware.
You may probably ask yourself what seduces all of these people who spend oodles of money and devote countless hours playing with all types of virtual games that in some instances have quite an impact on their lives as well as the lives of others? Kays one hundred and nineteen page investigation of the subject matter answers these questions and many more.
Divided into six chapters, Game Widow delves into such topics as why do wives lose out to their husband’s obsession with virtual games, are these games really addictive or deadly, can we call the Video Game Industry evil, what does the future hold for these games, what actions can we take, and where do I find up-to-date information.
The study is the result of Kays six years of marriage to a game designer, hundreds of conversations with developers, researchers, academics, psychologists, and medical personnel, and thousands of hours of experimental game play.
What is quite interesting about Game Widow is that Kays discloses that when she first heard the term, there wasn’t any information online or in the bookstore on what this problem meant or how to cope with it. As a result, she had to figure it out for herself and it was either that or annul her marriage. The latter was not an option for her.
Game Widow allocates significant ink to what attracts and holds gamers’ attention. Kays quotes Rich Vogel, former vice president of production at Sony Online Entertainment, who, at the 2005 Game Developer’s Conference stated that basically the foremost factors of the glue, as he described them, are a unique persona, achievement, ownership, relationships, immersion and dynamic. All of these elements are further illustrated, explored and analysed in order to give us a full picture in the understanding of the magnetism of these games. In addition, Kays supplies her readers with several ideas as to how to deal with personal relationships when these games infringe on a couple or family’s daily life.
Kays overview of the subject matter reminds us that these video games are no longer just games but they are also perils that may be waiting at our doorstep and may have far reaching implications that are societal, financial, legal, political and academic.
Unlike the initial two-dimensional ones, today we have games that can be played in an entire new manner and at a whole new level of depth. As pointed out, many are lived instead of played. They are now sit-forward-and-act-entertainment and consequently they become interactive. This is one of the main reasons why many individuals have become gamers and as a result, it is very difficult to compete with video games for the attention of those who play. Naturally, this leads to all kinds of social, psychological and relationship problems. As Kays states, before you next sit down to play, ask yourself if you are in good health, both mentally and physically or as she asserts: “Can you honestly say you have no heart conditions, no chain-smoking, nothing that sitting along, very still, and in a hunched position for hours might make worse? Will your doctor confirm that at your next visit? And do you spend more than five hours in an online game in a given stretch.”
All of this is not to say that video games are always bad for us and Kays does devote considerable time in pointing out where they can play a supportive role in our work and school environments, as is presently the case.
Certainly, Kays has discovered something extraordinary about the world of virtual games and essentially it is an impassioned and informative wake- up call to those who may still believe that virtual games are of little importance. Perhaps, with her detailed and clear-headed examination, she will even revolutionize our perspective of these games.
The above review was contributed by: Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com, Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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