Skylanders is a new experience for seasoned gamers, for me it was like something from another planet. I enjoyed it, and it sparked not a few Mindful considerations... read now
Tobit Emmens' Mindful Gamer content:
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I'm looking at videogames to consider how they affect our well-being. Without wishing to simplify things that are very complex, how we spend our time has some kind of impact on how we think, feel and behave. Videogames are no different.
Much of my life is trying to understand the impact of mobile phones, the Internet, neighbours and stories on mental health well-being and how this intersects with the experience-think-feel-behave cycle.
Some things in life are obvious, others less so. Those first few minutes playing Flower or Limbo, I would put those in the less obvious category. If indeed categories are a good way to go. Perhaps they aren't, but perhaps they are an unavoidable part of life.
Writing as Mindful Gamer is going to be an adventurous journey not least because, as up until the September 27th 2011, I have not a had a television for nearly 15 years, and I know almost nothing about gaming.
That in itself has not been an obstacle to being interested in gaming concepts though. well, I say gaming concepts, but what I really mean is I am interested in story telling, and how we find ourselves in stories, how we might frame life as stories and how we use them to make sense of the things we experience.
Elsewhere, I use this interest in stories to underpin much of my work in the NHS. By day I look after a Research and Innovation department for a mental health trust (can you see where this is going). In this role, I am frequently exposed to the stories people live within. I get to make films and other works of fiction to move patient's stories forward, or maybe just uncover how they have got this far.
This means that screen-time for me is as much part of treatment as it is a cause of problems. It's interesting that there is a persistent belief that screen violence is the cause of actual violence. Spending just 30-minutes browsing academic search engines illustrates that there have been many thousands of studies, but with no great agreement on whether this really is the case.
For a long time the mainstream media talks about the negative impacts of violence in games, on TV and in films, yet are these sorts of links as clear cut? Here, I hope to explore this in the context of gaming, focusing on the relationship between media (or a medium) and the audience and on how audiences respond to media content of one kind or another thereby taking the conversation from the effect of effects to the influences on media.
My writing will reflect my experiences of gameplay, but also by academics such as Joshua Meyrowitz, Danah Boyd, Neil Postman, Erving Goffman and others.
This was all almost monikered under the Mental Gamer banner, but having checked this out with some friends and colleagues we felt it to be too inappropriate and believe that for some, it might further the stigma associated with mental illness - the last thing I wanted to do.
Read more about me.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: