Friday, September 14, 2007

Identity Checking and Game Playing

Police officers checking the identification of youths outside a game parlor in ToKuaWan土瓜灣. It is a common scene in Hong Kong but it got me thinking. Disregarding the possible dangers associated with game parlors, it is still a great pity that so many young people waste their time playing so much computer games. (I do not object to playing computer games per se. It is excessive playing that I am objecting to – whatever that means :) )

Some may disagree, and point to the social “value” of playing computer games with friends. And the development of certain gaming “skills”. Indeed, some researchers such as Jonathan Thiele of Missouri Western State University have discovered a reduction in reaction time among those who played video computer games extensively. Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green of the University of Rochester (my alma mata) also found that action video games can sharpen vision, enabling players to identify letters in a cluster better.

However, this is really a red herring. Do such “gains” justify the amount of time and effort expended in acquiring such “skills”? And are these gains not also available from other healthier activities? I have met university students both in mainland China and Hong Kong who play computer games for hours and hours each day (one Shenzhen university students said eight). How many hours do you spend on them? How about our children? Do we even know, or care?

There are plenty of other hobbies, sports, etc. which are equally, if not more, enjoyable and also bring much more tangible benefits at the same time. Why do we insist on wasting our lives away this way?

No comments: