Monday, September 13, 2010

Video games in the spotlight

If you follow this blog on a regular basis, you know that I often get uppity when the mainstream media decides to report on video games. As is too often the case, video games often get singled out because they may contain sex or violence. It happens due to a combination of video games still being a relatively young medium (the industry is really only about 30 years old), but more so because many still mistakenly perceive video games to be the playthings of children.

Rather than whine about it here whenever it happens, I thought I'd try and do something constructive so I chatted with some of my bosses at the CBC about the possibility of doing something special on video games - something that would take a mature and intelligent look at them. They agreed that it was past time somebody did something like that, so we started work on a big series, the efforts of which roll out today.

Pushing Buttons (a cool title thought up by our Arts editor Andre Mayer) launches today over on The week-long series will take a look at video games from all sorts of aspects, from their history in Canada to their cultural, social and economic impacts. It'll also look at how they're being used in health and education, and delve into what the future may hold.

A host of CBC's online reporters, producers and designers spent a couple months working on Pushing Buttons, and a bunch of television and radio folks will be chipping in over the coming week as well. If it changes just a few peoples' minds about video games, I think it'll be worth it.

I contributed a whole whack of stuff to the series, with a few of the opening-day pieces including a thorough chronicle of how Canada came to be the third-biggest video game power in the world (next to Japan and the United States), a top-ten countdown of the best Canadian-created games, and this video on how games are made:

There's lots more stuff coming this week - I'll be sure to plug it here. If video games interest you, be sure to check back each day this week for additional stories and content. Even if you're not into them, you may want to check out some of these stories to learn about what is quickly becoming one of Canada's most important industries.

And before I forget - there is a very strong link to all this stuff and Sex, Bombs and Burgers. A whole half-chapter in the book is devoted to video games and their military origins. Not only did they come from the military, video games have also come full circle and are helping to train soldiers (whether they know it or not).


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