Aug 22nd, 2017
Gaming and its Relationship with Human Civilization
With the development of human science and technology, the way of human entertainment has become increasingly rich. Among them, the gaming industry changes are very significant because of the invention of video games. Moreover, the virtual reality technology, which has attracted much attention and expectation, has finally brought the gaming world a significant revolution in the 2016. At the same time as VR games are emerging in large numbers, game technology has officially taken the lead in the field of mass science and technology once again since the video games have written a brilliant record in the history of gaming. However, it is also well known that there is an image of video games is called “electronic heroin,” since the young people who have poor self-discipline cannot extricate themselves indulge in the pleasure of playing games. Especially in China, many of these young “electronic drug addicts” have been forcibly sent to specific locations by their parents to quit the so-called internet addiction through electrocution and beatings. Under the guidance of mass media, video games have become the first controversial issue in the gaming history. Objectively speaking, as a great crystallization of human civilization, gaming has not been a stumbling block for human development since ancient times, the reason why gaming is no longer a single image is the inevitable impact of changes in the times and technology. As a hot topic for public attention, this academic research will analyze the ever-changing image of the gaming from ancient times to the present and its future trends.
B. History of Gaming:
In the long-last prehistoric civilization, gaming is still a vague concept which can be played with bones, sticks, stones, and even shells if the conditions permit. After all, shells were not only a counting tool, but also a widely used currency. Back to ancient times, the earliest gaming pieces could be found are “a series of 49 small carved painted stones found at the 5,000-year-old Ba?ur Höyük burial mound in southeast Turkey” (History of Games). As we all know, even modern civilization only has a few hundred years of history, but the gaming history began in three thousand BC which means gaming can be regarded as one of the contributors of modern human civilization. During the same period, one of the oldest games in the history of mankind that has complete basic rules called Senet has been found in Predynastic and First Dynasty burial sites in Egypt, approximately 3500 BCE (History of Games). Looking at East Asia, the ancient China also created two widely circulated board games called Weiqi and Xiangqi. Additionally, AlphaGo, the world-known artificial intelligence, is a master in the field of Weiqi, and the “Go” in its name is the pronunciation of Weiqi in Japanese. Unlike the other three well known ancient civilizations (also called the cradle of civilization in western culture), ancient China has also created card games and even ball games. One of the ball games is called Cuju which has similar rules to soccer that can be identified as one of the origins of modern football. In general, the love of gaming is not modern humans’ unique feeling. In the case of ancient China, prosperous civilization and inheritance from generation to generation are also helpful for Asian ancestors to create new gaming methods.
Eyes turned to modern history, we gradually established a huge game body in the case of ensuring the integrity of those ancient games. Also with the creation and exploitation of a wide variety of unknown games, we have eventually established a modern game system based on the continuous improvement of ancient games. As a result, two main branches are derived: indoor games such as dice, board, and card games; outdoor games mainly all sports games are included. After that, one of the greatest discoveries in human history has appeared which almost entirely redefined the meaning of gaming, that is, electricity. With the development and popularization of electrical appliances, the greatest invention in human history, internet was born in the late twentieth Century which strongly broke the boundaries of past games. After decades of unremitting efforts, the definition of gaming has become complicated and vague. To a certain degree, reviewing history is an efficient way that can let us redefine the meaning of gaming in constant reflections.
Throughout the history of gaming, we can clearly see that the development of gaming is completely following the progress of human beings in industry. From boringly throwing stones to frantically tapping the keyboard, gaming is playing a role as a tool all the time. In order to remove the tags that are imposed on gaming, this analysis of gaming at different historical stages will give people who have biased ideas or an overly strong subjective impression on video games a better understanding of gaming. Although video games have unparalleled influence today, this academic report will only analyze the objective position of gaming in human history in a logical way, rather than being misled by subjective judgments.
II. Ancient Gaming and Culture
Ancient times, unlike modern times. There was no electricity, no network, and no variety of amusement spots. In other words, ancient humans had nothing compared to what we have today. In order to survive, our great ancestors gradually gathered together and formed tribes, dynasties, and even nations. When the collective strength continued to increase and living conditions were guaranteed, people especially the ruling classes started to have more leisure time to kill as a result. Under such circumstances, a brand new way of entertainment had been explored by the constant attempts of our ancestors. At the very start, the product of the invention of the ancestors couldn’t be recognized as a game, but only a new kind of interactive activities. However, with the promotion of the level of sculpturing, craftsmen’s inspiration inspired by the natural nature became the greatest talent at that time. As the crystallization of the wisdom of one culture, the game would be qualified to inherit in all cultures.
Senet, Mehen, and Twenty Squares:
According to Crist, the earliest known board game in human history which has two sides was found in Cyprus. In addition, the board game which was found in Cyprus is actually identified as a Cypriot version of the Egyptian games mehen and senet by another scholar Swiny who’s cited in Crist’s work (183). In other words, as the two different countries without specific affiliations, the respective games having similar gameplays shows that there might be belligerent or diplomatic relations between the two countries. Also, according to the words Crist rephrases from Swiny’s research, Cyprus didn’t have any original games before the mehen was introduced in the beginning of the third millennium BC. Furthermore, Crist points out another thing in his restatement of Piccione and Vandier’s words that mehen failed to survive the vicissitudes of the times in the third millennium BC in Egypt, but it lived through the entire Bronze Age (2700–1050 BC) in Cyprus (183). In that case, the game found in Cyprus is not Egypt’s mehen anymore, but a new game already localized. Although it is undeniable that mehen originated in Egypt, the game found in Cyprus is a good example of cultural transmission. On the other hand, the recognition of the nobility as well seems to be indispensable for cultural transmission. There was a game in ancient Egypt called twenty squares, and it was a “practice of elite gift-exchange” (Crist et al. 188). Twenty squares, either in Egypt or in neighboring countries, were dug up in areas where the elite were concentrated. As a supplement, many of the aristocratic version of the twenty squares were made of ivory and pottery which were precious and expensive materials (189). As a summary, whether the game can be transferred to other cultures depends largely on the degree of recognition of the local ruling class.
Weiqi, Igo, and Baduk:
As a well-known game in East Asia, the values of weiqi itself are universally recognized by Japan and South Korea. Although Weiqi originated in ancient China, its specific origin has not been verified under the influence of deification. Briefly, weiqi is a game has around 2500 years history which is still being played today, which makes it persuasive that weiqi is the oldest board game we are still playing (History of Go). However, its popularity is still somewhat beyond imagination. By the middle of the 2008, there were more than forty million weiqi players in the world; by the end of 2015, the international Go Federation had a total of seventy-five member countries and four member associations in several countries (History of Go), which meant approximately a half of the countries around the world were part of the weiqi culture. As a game that its original and derivative editions are highly unified, weiqi isn’t like mehen, a game needs to consider the impact of time passing on its basic rules. Igo and baduk are not other versions of weiqi in other countries but a translated name based on local people’s own thoughts on weiqi.
The reason why weiqi is highly recognized in other countries especially Japan and South Korea is because of the connotation of the ancient Chinese philosophy which has caused a long-term impact on East Asian Civilization. Even today, we can still be able to find the microcosm of Chinese culture in either Japanese culture or South Korean culture. As a well-known historical knowledge in China, weiqi is one of the four arts (the other three are respectively being proficient in playing guqin, writing calligraphy and painting) respected and mastered by ancient Chinese writers. More specifically, Gosset illustrates in his article that the Tao of weiqi was inspired by the famous Sun Tzu’s Art of War during the Warring States period (476-221BC). Moreover, Sun Tzu’s Art of War to a large extent created the Chinese traditional tactical thinking. In the process of continuous practicing weiqi, we will gradually understand Gosset’s citation from the Classic of Weiqi, “As the best victory is gained without a fight, so the excellent position is one which does not cause conflict” (5). As an interpretation, winning doesn’t exist in the true weiqi. There is no checkmate, no winner takes all. What the two players play against is the concept and calculation of the overall situation. Since ancient times, China’s weiqi is always looking for the inscrutability of Yin and Yang, rather than a victory winning half a point. It’s just like what is described in Xiu Ouyang’s poem, “the weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed” (Gosset, 6). In the world of weiqi, we are not only playing against with our opponents, but also confronting ourselves. To a higher level, we are looking for a way out for ourselves in the boundless weiqi universe.
III. Modern Gaming and its General Attributes
The existence of the game cannot be separated from the rules, but the establishment of the rules will inevitably lead to competition. At the same time, competition tends to arouse the sense of urgency of the participants, thereby stimulating their desire to improve themselves. As a result, competitiveness, as one of the major attributes inherited from ancient games, still plays an important role in today’s games. Fast forward the time to April 6, 1896, 241 athletes from fourteen countries gathered in Greece to officially take part in the first modern Olympic Games (Athens 1896). The first international sporting event lasted until the fifteenth day of the month (Athens 1896). It is also worth remembering that this fifteen-day-Olympic Games carried out a total of forty-three events (Athens 1896). As a traditional large-scale comprehensive sports event, the Olympic Games have brought considerable attention to the athletes all over the world so far. The reason for the Olympic attention, however, is not that it serves as a good public event around the world. For example, the Olympic Games have a very strong lineup of contestants, a wide variety of competition projects, and the enthusiasm and passion for the motherland to win every single piece of the unique golden medal. Above all, the constant competitiveness in the Olympic Games is the root cause for people to flock to. However, as a big emerging sports event, E-sports has set off an upsurge of watching in the world in recent few years. In 2016, there were approximately 256 million E-sports audiences (Global Esports Market Report) (refer to Appendix Figure for detailed analysis). Moreover, according to the explosive growth trend of e-sports, the status of traditional sports will eventually be challenged by E-sports. Surprisingly, the reason why E-sports can attract a lot of enthusiasts in just a few years because it is not only as competitive as traditional sports, but also has the ornamental value that traditional sports do not have.
As human beings, the majority of us are unable to break the limits of the human body without dangers or express feelings that have never been experienced due to the limited average human conditions. The near-death experience (NDE), for example, is something inaccessible for the average person to frequently have in daily life. Also, flying an airplane is another kind of experience that is difficult for ordinary people to have. Most of the scarce experiences, however, are within the reach of human technology today through all kinds of physics engine. Physics engine, in simple terms, is “a simulator used to create a virtual environment that incorporates laws from the physical world” (Jones). In that case, physics engine will have the ability to make our virtual images in virtual spaces implement incredible operations that are allowed under physical conditions. As everyone knows, physics engines are widely used in the gaming industry to advance the fidelity in order to further improve the gaming experience. Since the factors of physics play an important role in both real life and video games, collision detection and gravity will be the two main elements affecting the gaming quality. In terms of first-person-shooter (FPS) games, the two elements mentioned above are extremely important. Assuming that we control the game character throws a grenade, the grenade will fly straight in the direction we are pointing to without the influence of gravity which will break our common sense. Similarly, despite the impact of gravity, the grenade will be able to pass through any model within the game without collision detection operating. At the same time, maintaining high fidelity helps to increase the player’s sense of substitution. However, while ensuring the game’s competitiveness and authenticity at the same time, the game will gradually lose its freshness if there is no sustainable innovation in the premise.
As a matter of fact, the sustainability of a game is the key consideration to many game makers today. On the one hand, the sustainability of the game is the key to the long-term profitability of game makers. On the other hand, the sustainability of the game is also one of the main factors affecting the growth rate of players. For online games, the regular update packages can make it feasible to maintain their sustainability in the short term. As for console games (also called single player games), it’s not practical to download updates from the web regularly. In that case, game makers will launch sequel to maintain the sustainability of their games. Generally, games which have the design concept based on purely recreation are difficult to maintain freshness. The value difference caused by the change of the times is also beyond estimate for the game maker community. More specifically, a large proportion of parents in China are against the Internet addiction. It seems to have become a common social phenomenon in china regarding video games as a cancer of the Internet. From the analysis of the games’ status in the history and attributes in the present society, we can gradually conclude that gaming is an objective existence. Therefore, the long-term sustainability of the game does exist. As an objective thing, or a tool, gaming has a wider range of applications than general tools, because of the infinite possibilities of the internet. Gaming’s inclusiveness and flexibility have largely paved the way for possibilities to integrate with other industries. Moreover, the competitiveness and fidelity of gaming will give new meaning to other industries as well. This is to say, the shortcomings of the two sides will complement each other, while the advantages will be able to increase each other. To get rid of the subjective false impression, also to find the real sustainability of gaming, the following academic analysis will conjecture and then confirm the possibility for the future gaming.
IV. Interesting Ideas and Prospects on Future Gaming
Education, human unique social behavior, is an evolutionary product that maintains a low threshold and a high demand. As a non-rigid requirement for survival necessities, education combining with video games which have a high popularity among young people will produce stunning results. According to Schrier, a game called Mission US: For Crown or Colony which is created by PBS/WNET and Electric Funstuff is introduced to a bunch of middle school students to study the American history through playing the game (397). He emphasizes that the Boston Massacre part of the game is a divergence point because students are given “slightly different vignettes showing what happened” which indicates that individuals are having different understanding of the Boston Massacre (397). As a result, different illustrations to different psychological individuals will have a unique impact. Hence, the key to testing students is the outcome of the game and their relationship with the non-playing characters (NPC) which means students will directly get the reflection of their ethical thinking level (397). In the game Mission US, each ending will give each person more or less the subtle influence on morality. Also, the results of the study show that the game enhances tested students’ “empathy and historical empathy, ethical reasoning, and awareness of ethics issues” (397). This case also proves the feasibility of combining video games with ethical education.
In a wide range of disciplines, if we look at it carefully, we’ll be surprised to find that aesthetics has a lot in common with video games. Both sides need to visually show impact or beautiful pictures to the audience. Building on the support of a powerful physics engine, Gilyard points out that the combination of aesthetics and video games’ strong teaching ability can be identified as another form of art which can be used in teaching aesthetics (110). In the above-mentioned gaming sustainability, it can also be further explained that When the game players begin to have the same experience as other players do, the game will gradually become boring due to the lack of personal originality. Art is the same. A painting imitating Van Gogh’s authentic can never be regarded as a masterpiece. Individual life experiences will give each person a different definition of aesthetics. Similarly, if the lower limit of the game is determined by the design of the game, then the definition of the gaming material will determine the upper limit of the game. In other words, the game design is limited, but the way we play the game can be infinite. From Gilyard’s description of Minecraft, we can see that Minecraft is a game has achieved the infinite methods of playing the game to some extent. Briefly introducing the Minecraft, it is a game “players use textured cubes to build constructions of any kind” (115). The best part is that this game does not have any novice teaching or any tips which means that players need to constantly explore and try to learn the game mechanism (115). Although such ideas are not maturing enough or have yet to form an educational system, interactive video games may also be of great help to socializing in the future.
After graduating from school, most of us will step into society and soon have a new identity. But for the people who are not sociable, a social-related game might be able to help. By playing the video games Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, the students learned not only the relevant historical knowledge from the game, but also the foundation, operation and diplomacy of a kingdom. At the beginning of the game, students choose one of the thirteen kingdoms (the Britons, Byzantines, Celts, Chinese, Franks, Goths, Japanese, Mongols, Persians, Saracens, Teutons, Turks, and the Vikings) as the starting role (Maguth et al. 34). According to different geographical location, students should learn to make use of all resources to strengthen themselves (34). In the process of being powerful, students are required to conquer all other kingdoms (34). After that, students’ kingdom will have diplomatic activities more frequently to remain at its peak after the four “Ages” (respectively as the Dark Age, the Feudal Age, the Castle Age, and the Imperial Age) (34). Unlike Minecraft, Age of Empires II requires more interactions, such as alliances, that are closer to real life. Students can also learn how to socialize and understand the meaning of social in the Age of Empires II. As an individual, each student has his or her own independent way of thinking, which cannot be used directly in important decisions between kingdoms. As a king, the students need not only consider whether the conditions are beneficial to themselves, but also the interests of their people. By the same time, they must think over the possible benefits and possible losses of the campaign before they can declare a war. In other words, future gaming needs to put more effort into public interaction on which online games are working hard. Perhaps because everyone loves different games, there is no unified world class gaming community so far. Eliminate the impact of language barrier, and if all players can group together, then the game community will have the ability to influence the world.
As a traditional job which has exacting terms of admission, medical care requires both professional qualifications and practical experiences at the same time. Although modern medicine is advanced enough to compare with the past few hundred years, for the youth with physical disabilities, it’s even harder for them to enjoy the joy of living if the disabilities cannot be completely cured by surgeries. From an interesting point of view, active video gaming might be a viable means to help the youth with physical disabilities to increase the amount of physical activity by reducing their time always sitting in a wheelchair. Moreover, Rowland states in her article that active video gaming is supported by the emerging evidence that it is an effective method to improve the body conditions of youth with cardiovascular and physical disabilities (522). Although she derives the results from the secondary analysis, experimental results show active video gaming is helping heart function to restore normal levels (528). On the other hand, common sporting activities which have been properly changed the rules can also be added to the lives of youth with physical disabilities while we are looking for viable gaming therapies (Rowland et al. 530). No matter how restricted active video gaming is in the field of medicine, future gaming will always be based on human technology.
Now we can see clearly that the role played by gaming in human civilization has always been objective. From the ancient cultural representation of gaming, it often contains the culture and local customs of the country, while the meaning of the rules may include the local people’s outlook on life. Of course, the cultural essence of this country can also be spread after being recognized by another country. In general, ancient gaming was more like a medium for carrying and spreading culture.
Modern gaming, while inheriting the rules of ancient gaming, also preserves the highly competitive nature of ancient gaming. At the same time as a modern product, modern gaming contains the crystallization of modern technology as well. Most important of all, modern gaming has ornamental attributes which are not available in ancient gaming. In other words, only games that have athletic attributes while ensuring visual effects can stand out from today’s society.
The future is always unpredictable because there are too many uncertainties. However, gaming is a combination of culture and technology which is beloved by the young people, the new generation. The combination of gaming with sustainable fields is inevitable. We can already see gaming’s diversified future from modern game products. Accordingly, future gaming will have a chance to become a new separated human culture, a civilization created by its diversity.
To conclude, gaming is objective existence from the beginning to the end. It has neither abdicated people with poor self-control to go to addiction as desperately to play, and it never has any conflict with learning. Even in the near future, it is expected to combine with education in order to achieve learning with edutainment. Gaming is a tool, a friend, and a teacher of human beings. Gaming is not a single form of entertainment; it is a mirror that enables us to learn from ourselves.
(Global Esports Market Report)
We can clearly see from the bar chart on the left that the annual E-sports audience no longer grows linearly. Although the growth rate will slow down a little bit in 2019, that is still a high rate of growth. From the 13.3%, we can predict there would be a peak period of growth in the following years before 2019. From the pie chart on the right, we can see that the Asian and Pacific coasts account for nearly half the number of viewers. Europe and North America, respectively, accounted for 1/4 and 1/5 of the total. This indicates although Asia-Pacific area is the where the main audiences are located, in Europe and America, the proportion of spectators in electronic sports is higher than that of the total population.
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