Is this Real Life or a Computer Game?

It is no surprise that like with many of new technologies, computers and gaming have developed through time (Jenkins, 2006). The very early video games have expanded from A.S Doglas and his adaption of OXO

Which then caught onto the MIT’s computer enthusiasts who created Spacewar! To then the mass produced computer game Computer Space of 1971. In 1972 The Magnavox Odyssey became the first home console, which then later added a peripheral such as the Light Gun.

Where the competitive competition started was in the 1980s to 90s, where Sega not only created their Sega Mega Drive console, but a mascot. Likewise, Nintendo debuted Mario, another family friendly mascot whereby the consumer can then identify the game console with this cartoon character.

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Mario Vs Sonic

With the competition not only progressing with more game console companies and avatars, it became more soaked in with out culture, with coverage on the battle between the consoles as if they were sport matches. Terry Flew investigates video game culture and the rise of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMPORG) and believes that the escapism aspect of being able to identify and live through an avatar vicariously is what appeals to the audience (2005).

To live vicariously is certainly evident in the game America’s Army, a free downloadable computer game. America’s Army was subject to criticism that felt that the game exploited young gamers whereby it glamorised joining the army; a propaganda. Zhan Li claims that America’s Army forces militant views on society with little respect on the moral side of war, acting as a hypodermic needle to encourage young gamers to join the army (2004).

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America’s Army

Perhaps this is something to consider, as we perhaps take for granted how much we rely on games. Johan Huizinga describes how significant games culture is in that “Play is older than culture” and that to understand play is important as it is not only instinctive to understand our society through this but it can also provide a need for relaxation (2002). Similarly, Scott Bukatman claims that “the spatio-temporal malleability of the computer world can seem to cross over to the physical world, replacing the fixed rhythms of real life” (2000:154). So, with gaming being a fundamental process of growing up and becoming more culturally aware, perhaps we should be more considerate on what it is that we are playing and how much with identify with our avatars to pave our own reality? Tim Jordan believes so, concurring that “virtual societies mean the reinvention of all that is familiar” (1999:2).

Perhaps Marshall McLuhan will best sum up the answer to this question with “Men at once become fascinated by any extension of themselves” (1995:41).


Bukatman, Scott. (2000). Fun in Cyberspace. In: Bell, David et Kennedy, Barbara The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge. 149 – 175.

Edwards, Benji. (2011). Computer Space and the Dawn of the Arcade Video Game. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Flews, Terry (2005). Games: Technology, Industry, Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press

Jordan, Tim (1999). Cyberpower: The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and The Internet. London: Routledge.

Kamen, Matt et Webber, Jordan. (2013). PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One: The next-gen consoles compared. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Huizinga, Johan (2002). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play. Italy: Einaudi.

Li, Zhan. (2004). The Potential of America’s Army the Video Game as Civilian-Military Public Sphere . The MIT Press.

McLuhan, Marshall (1995). Understanding Media: The Extension of Man. 3rd ed. USA: MIT Press.

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