Thursday, March 26, 2009
Terrific article in today's Wall Street Journal about online gaming. And yet the title truly doesn't represent the story, that of the multi-player online environment that is growing by leaps.
Still, family and games seem to go together. As an activity, it brings the family closer together, building strong bonds, new lines of communication, memories, and fun. At the very least, family games provide something to do, especially on rainy or snowy days! Before computers, we had card games, board games, dice games, etc. New technologies bring new ways to interact.
So that an "increasing number of families have become receptive to the games as more homes get high-speed Internet access and more people familiarize themselves with social networking through mini-games like Scrabble on Facebook", these are simply new access points to familiar games. Younger audiences have embraced these games; their parents need to also in order to maintain a healthy family dynamic. Whether it is online fantasy games, Wii or Playstation or Xbox, family games have moved into the 21st century. However it is played shouldn't really matter; ultimately, for the family, it is about doing these activities or games together.
The story's approach is that more online games are moving from one player, or player against machine, to multi-player engagement online. Not playing within the family, but playing with strangers. It is this blind communication that is of concern to parents. As children are easy prey to online predators, parents are seeking cures that guard against such horrific behavior and provide protection. "To alleviate concerns, game developers are taking precautions to protect children by limiting chat sessions to predetermined phrases or banning the use of numbers and proper names so players can't divulge personal information. Many games also give parents the ability to limit social-networking features." Separating the friends from strangers, and assuring that they are who they say they are, is key to a safer environment. Gaming is fun, as long as no one breaks the rules.
Posted by Andy Hunn