In 2018, Variety Magazine published that almost 70% of Americans are playing games, yet there’s still a stubborn stigma around gaming that suggests it’s a frivolous waste of time. While video games can, of course, be an entertaining and relaxing pastime, they are already so much more than the hi-tech toys they are often perceived as being.
When I look at video games, I see nothing but incredible potential. I see unique and powerful opportunities to connect individuals from all walks of life, to teach children and adults skills and knowledge in ways that make learning almost effortless, to empower curiosity, to bring playful purpose to cutting edge technology, and so much more.
However, this mainstream perception of games being only an entertainment medium meant for people under a certain age can be frustratingly limiting when it comes to fully realizing their potential to have an immensely positive impact on individuals and communities. In my experience, this perception can impede funding going towards ambitious and worthwhile projects, prevent certain audiences from trying, enjoying, and benefitting from positive games, and limit the dialogue surrounding how we can take games further than we ever thought possible.
It’s an issue that many in the industry and in academia who share this vision for positive games continue to bump up against. However, slowly but surely, as more compelling and inspiring games eke their way onto players’ consoles and computers, gamers’ and non-gamers’ eyes are slowly starting to open up to the possibilities before them. I’m optimistic that, armed with boldness, creativity, and patience, this issue of limited-perception will slowly begin to fade away – and as it does, the potential for us to seize the full possibilities for this medium will only grow further!
Erin Reynolds is an award-winning game designer who is passionate about the potential games have to empower, educate, and inspire players of all kinds and make the world a better, more playful place. She is the Founder, President, and Creative Director of Flying Mollusk, and the creator of the biofeedback-enhanced game Nevermind. Erin will be speaking at TEDxGrandPark in Los Angeles on December 7, 2019.