Zombies Serve A Useful Purpose

super-computer-nerdYou can stop working now and fire up Farmville or Red Dead Redemption. It turns out tending that online farm or shooting zombies isn’t just a waste of time.

Video games, in fact, are of much more benefit that they are given credit for, according to Julien Wéra. Addressing the monthly Refresh Dublin (@refreshdublin) talk at the Science Galley (@sciencegallery), Wéra cited employment, education and even artistic inspiration to back up his assertion.

PR and Marketing Manager at ICO Partners, a company in the gaming industry, Wéra noted gaming is still not seen as a “mainstream” activity and regarded as nerdy by many. Yet despite the awful photo of a stereotypical geek (above) and video of the “angry German kid,” Wéra said games are used by practically everyone who uses a computer. His reasons:

Sheer numbers: Usage figures tell their own story. Call of Duty sold 75 million copies, The Sims close to 110 million and Tetris sold 270 million, Wéra said. Yet those numbers are understated due to the difficulty of getting both accurate information about piracy and reliable data from Asian markets. Many games such as Tetris are also available free online, he said.

Given those volumes, “that’s pretty much mainstream,” Wéra said.

Business: Again, numbers are hard to come by since some of the big game producers are privately held. But Wéra noted that around 200,000 people are employed in what is now a $65 billion industry — around the same size as cinema, DVD/bluray and video on demand put together. The trend, however, show a decrease in movies while games continue to grow.

Meanwhile, Wéra noted how games are growing in influence. The Rolling Stones are featured in the soundtrack of Call of Duty Blackops. This was done not to sell the game through the popularity of the elderly rock band but to drive sales of their music. “The video game is helping to sell the music, not the contrary,” Wéra said. And movies such as Resident Evil and Price of Persia started life as games, Wéra said.

Serious side: Games can be used for flight simulators or military training. They can be used as process simulators in business. They have educational uses, he said.

A game called Privates by Zombie-Cow is used to educate teenagers about sexual health, Wéra said. Its website says the game uses “condom-hatSpace Invaders ˆ Paristed marines as they delve into peoples’ vaginas and bottoms and blast away at all manner of oozy, shouty monsters.” And that led him to his next point:

Controversy: A role-playing game called Mass Effect was criticized by some because it allowed players to have homosexual relationships. That ability was written out of Mass Effect 2, but “games can be a place for debate” about important societal issues, Wéra said.

Art: They are an outlet for artistic or popular expression. While sidestepping a debate about whether the games themselves are art, Wéra noted gaming companies hire many creatives in the form of writers, artists and musicians.

Meanwhile, life imitated game art as paintings used to storyboard designs have found their way in to museums and a street artist has used the Space Invaders ships as inspiration for his work (above). The Gamer Symphony Orchestra specializes in video game themes during its concerts.

Finally, they are fun: “I think that’s the core of it,” Wéra said. Life is serious enough already, he said. “They are fun. they will be fun in the future. They were fun in the past,” he said.

Space Invader in Paris photo by yoyolabellut on Flickr.

And finally, the angry German kid:

3 thoughts on “Zombies Serve A Useful Purpose

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention John P. Muldoon » Zombies Serve A Useful Purpose -- Topsy.com

  2. Hey John,

    Well, I’m not a gamer at all. I think the only game I have ever played on my computer was solitaire. Okay, I’m pathetic I know! But I’m a little older and could just never get into all of that. I know that as you mentioned, some of those are good for like military and flight simulators. I know they are also a great form of entertainment for many. Just never something I enjoyed doing.

    Good post though and a great explanation of how games affect different people. While watching the German video, that kid reminded me of a show I watched just the other day about kids with mental illnesses. Getting that upset over a game is pretty drastic behavior. Just makes you wonder.

    Adrienne 🙂

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