Reading Blog 13 – October 21, 2015

“Chapter 13: Relaxation” (p. 89-95) by Ian Bogost from “How To Do Things With Video Games.”

This week’s reading discusses how video games can actually be a form of relaxation for some people. Before reading this chapter, I thought that video games, if anything, were prone to increasing aggression between teenagers. I didn’t even think that some video games could help wind some people down. In this chapter, Bogost describes the difference between “lean forward” and “lean back” media. Most violent or aggressive video games are a form of “lean forward” media, because it requires a person’s full attention, so much so, that they are immersed in the video game. However, Bogost argues that there are certain games that people play and they don’t even think about it. These “lean back” games are “associated with relaxation, passivity, and even gluttony” (Bogost 89). These games don’t require much thought or motion. They’re the kind of games that you can play in the background, or right before you go to bed. Though they are still visually stimulating, they don’t get your heart rate racing or increase your aggression. An example that Bogost uses in this chapter is the game of Solitaire. Solitaire doesn’t require much thought, especially when it’s in the form of a computer game. You don’t even have to shuffle for yourself, the computer does that for you. These “casual games” as Bogost calls them, have repetitive patterns that lessen the need for thought or attention. That’s why they’re so relaxing. They’re just games to pass the time, or they can serve as a form of meditation. It’s definitely an interesting side to video games that I hadn’t thought about.

Links:

  1. “Rethinking Video Games’ Impact” – http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-26/features/sc-fam-0726-video-game-relax-20110725_1_entertainment-software-rating-board-kellee-santiago-neutral-games
  2. “Stressed out? Watching TV, playing video games may make you feel worse” – http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stressed-out-watching-tv-playing-video-games-may-make-you-feel-worse/
  3. “Two Years Later, Sleep Researchers Now Say Gaming Before Bed is Bad” – http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stressed-out-watching-tv-playing-video-games-may-make-you-feel-worse/

Discussion Questions:

  1. Wouldn’t video games just stimulate your mind instead of relaxing it before you go to bed?
  2. Which type of video game helps you de-stress more, relaxing ones or aggressive ones?
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