Show & Tell: PBS’ The Video Game Revolution

I came across an interesting site hosted by PBS.  “The Video Game Revolution” offers a lot of neat facts about video games.  The site is apparently a companion to a PBS documentary by the same name.   The site discusses the evolution of video games, how they are made, how video games influence our culture, and much more!  It even includes a “cheat” section that offers clues about how to do well in certain classic games like Pac-Man.

Two of the parts I really like are the “Essays” and “Additional Reading” sections, which are found under the “Impact of Gaming” tab.  Both of these sections offer insightful, thought-provoking readings that often speak about the stereotypes associated with gaming.  For example, Aleah Tierney’s article “What Women Want” describes how women relate to video games, and how they are portrayed in them.  Usually, we think of women as being disassociated from video games; most players, according to the stereotype, are teenage boys.  Tierney admits that most players are indeed young men, but points out that a growing number of women play games too.  Moreover, she says that some female characters are simultaneously depicted as attractive, sexual beings (who fulfill mens’ fantasies) and strong warriors, who represent how women are not always meek individuals who depend on men to rescue them.  (See Tierney’s article.)  Although this article is brief and does not thoroughly flush out a lot of the issues it brings up, it does raise some interesting points that could potentially spark further discussion.

Additionally, Henry Jenkins’ article “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked” seeks to do exactly what the title says.  According to the site, Jenkins is a MIT professor, and he tries to shoot down various myths associated with video games, ranging from the idea that games lead to more violent youth to the idea that kids are the only age group that play these games.  (Like Tiernan, he also rejects the notion that girls do not play video games.)  Again, this article is brief and Jenkins does not fully analyze all of the ideas that brings up, but his ideas do challenge the conventional way that we think about video games.

I think this site provides a nice follow-up to the class discussion we had, as well as to the other “Show & Tell” posts that pertain to gaming.  I encourage anyone who is interested in gaming to check it out!

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