Sessler's Soapbox: Not So Fast, Obama

Posted: May 11, 2010
Sessler's Soapbox: Not So Fast, Obama
Adam takes President Obama to task over his recent comments about video games.

Comments are Closed

  • Lacking_Fractal

    "And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

    And this is how it starts...

    Posted: May 12, 2010 2:16 PM
  • SciFirearms

    Obama's quote was "And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

    Even if he is right it is a little strange that the government would take the position that information is a distraction. The only other government that I know of that took that stance started burning books. Im not saying that will happen but now im considering my stance on the fcc and Net Neutrality

    Posted: May 12, 2010 1:10 PM
  • Tsuiyo

    First off, if you call video games distractions, which are a form of entertainment (and learning, which is a whole 'nother Soapbox), then you'd have to call movies, Tv Shows and yes even books distractions. These are all means of conveying information and it's only a distraction of you do too much of it. It's all about balance.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 11:30 AM
  • mronoc89

    Whenever a discussion like this starts, I can't but help but think of my sophomore year of high school. In my sophomore year, I had a terrible history teacher (who used the excuse of "i teach a tough class" to justify low grades), luckily that year, I also played the original Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. I was the only one in that class to get an A on the final, and I firmly believe that a big part of that was the information I had picked up about World War II and the Cold War from playing those games. Of course there could have been other kids in the class who played those exact same games, but just weren't as invested in the story of information being presented to them, because they approached it as a distraction.

    I believe that with any creative medium, video games included, what you get out of it is entirely dependent on what you put in. It's like music, the Black Eyed Peas are probably great to listen to if you don't think about it, but if you want something with greater compositional complexity, you'll listen to classical or prog, if you want something that does more to challenge musical conventions, you'll listen to Frank Zappa or John Cage, if you want something with more lyrical depth, you'll listen to the Mountain Goats. It depends entirely on the person. If you approach it as a distraction, it will be a distraction. If you approach it as something more, it will be.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 11:29 AM
  • heeroyuyz13

    Is Obama American??

    Posted: May 12, 2010 11:07 AM
  • TheMilkMonster

    nice shirt champ

    Posted: May 12, 2010 10:35 AM
  • Calikid916

    The thing that makes a video game fun is being able to make life altering decisions without the real world consequences as we see in GTA. As for education purposes, is it not true that the Air Force uses "Flight Simulators" (aka video games) to get its pilots ready for the real thing?

    I believe video games can be both education and entertainment. As we see most of todays popular video games reflect upon todays age. While we are portary the role of troops shooting at the enemy withing the comfort of our rooms in Modern Warfare, there are real troops overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan doing all that for real. It ain't fun in real life, trust and believe. Yet in a way they can be educational.

    Gaming has evolved at a rapid pace over the years. We need to take that same convention of evolution and try to use it to enhance our lives. I can't believe that comment came from someone who uses Facebook and Twitter more than anyone. I am getting ahigher education in the field of Computer Science and I still play my xbox. The president should even be trippin on what we do in the comfort of our own homes. Why even a speach on it? He should be trying to fix the freaking economy.

    Thank you Adam for representing the gaming community. I respect you and have been watching Xplay for years. I'm not gonna let anyone destroy my freedoms which founded this land. I understand the importance of getting a higher education and persue it with dilligence. As for what I do in my spare time Obama needs to get off my jock.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 10:16 AM
  • yourbigpalal83

    I think for me, what makes a video game fun is giving me an immersive experence that i cant or am unlikely to have in the course of normal life and that the story modivates me to finish the game. I also believe that video games can be used greatly for educational purposes because i find i learn so much more when im interacting with something.

    Case in point. I was learning about world war 2 back in high school and while yes i heard of it, i wasnt too sure what it was or why it happend. So i watched saving private ryan, played world war 2 games like metal of honor and call of duty, and watched some documentaries on the war, and i got it. I got the conflicts, the battle plans, the objectives, and then the video game allowed me to in a way experence the war and what it was like. It no longer became just some vague concept, i was connecting on some level, via the movies and games, what the war really was (granted i was still mercy at the game and film makers)

    Point is. With games, ipads, the internet, etc we live in an age where if all of these tools were combined effectley we could advance education 10 fold. Imagin, combining a video game with a film about a hystorical event. Where you could watch historical events take place, then experence them yourself?

    So i think president obama's statements are a bit pre mature. If he took the time to use these things, to see the potentional they have for furthering education, then i think his whole perspective would change.

    I view the ipad as a possable reveloutnary educational tool. Same with 3d technology and augmented reality technology.

    Imagin a future, where you would go to a historical site. You put on your personal pair of Augmented reality glasses, as you walk around the site, and the device shows you points of intriest, what took place here, and more importantly allows you to in a way experence it in a controlled mannor.

    Say you went to a civil war battlefield. As you walked around, you could select just pop up facts, or experence in 3d via the augmented reality glasses, the actual battle via a simular technology they used to create avatar! Kinda like a hybrid video game/movie. How much more would you learn and understand? How much more would you grasp the events then if you simply read words on a screen or page?

    Posted: May 12, 2010 9:56 AM
  • Cheine

    Portal is a perfect example of how a game can make you think and see the world in a different light. Normally, videogames mimic the spatial relationships of the real world. Playing portal, you have to totally break down your natural spatial awareness. I really enjoy games that make me think about the world in a non-traditional sense. This goes far beyond playing as the "bad guys" which has been done a 1000 times.

    Also, Thank you Adam for creating legitimate academic discussion to videogames. I may not agree with everything you say, but I REALLY appreciate how you present your point and back it up with evidence and analysis.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 9:55 AM
  • haterhater

    Hmm, and to think that Obama's speech was the only think that Bill O'Reily agreed with. Go figure ;/ . Also, I didn't appreciate people who thought that mexican americans can go screw their nationality.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 9:48 AM
  • PeterParker23

    I don't know, to me games were ALWAYS around me, I grew up in the 90's generation, and always had a game console (NES, SNES, ect..) But the thing is
    that it was NOT just me playing games. sure I probably played more than everyone else. But my mom, and even my grandfather was big into games. My mom is still waiting for SYBERIA 3. We all use to gather round and play Jeopordy on the NES and we played racing games, all was FUN until DOOM came out on the SNES, then we would all gather round and kill monsters..my grandfather LOVED that game. anyway to me gaming is apart of my life but that is NOT all I do, I am an ARTIST and a WRITER, and I think playing those games helped me get into the arty stuff. When I saw LINK or Mega Man..I thought, can I draw that, or can I come up with a cool story like that. To me games make me more OPEN to fiction and art and storytelling. but that's just me.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 9:43 AM

    I just think it is funny that he is wearing a Fallout 3 shirt. It helps his point because the game requires a higher level mind to critically think and play out what would happen when you chose what to do in a "life or death" situation in the game. Also, if Obama doesn't understand video games why is he calling gamers uneducated.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 8:32 AM
  • lowkevmic

    Whats with all of the essay long answers!?!?!? I hate it when people simply wait to be offended by something. All the man was saying was with all of the different technologies and ways that we get our information it's real easy to be distracted, and lose sight of what's important and what's entertainment. If you wanna use what he said as an excuse to go on some political rant about how upset you are that he's in office, then that's dumb and you're missing the whole point. No one was bashing games or ipads. No one was saying that you can't learn anything from a video game. But when people know more about the latest and greatest game or gadget to be released, more than they do about the oil spill that just happened a few weeks ago, then Houston we have a problem!! There was a time when are only source for news was in papers and on tv news brodcasts. Now there are hundreds of different ways we get our news, all with their own angle or slant. So educating yourself on the real facts, instead of taking what was said in a blog as law, is what he meant by distractions.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 8:30 AM
  • Insane_genius

    i can understand the concern with what hes getting at,and in some ways yes i argee.but its the context hes presenting it in that overbears his cause and statment towards the real problems of education.i presonally think the ipad is a piece of junk,so apple can abtan more money.he should try these products and understand the content that is given in forms of information to the entertaniment.yes i agree some of it is completely useless specially when you have to buy applications/added downloadable software just to use certin issued programs that came along with it.its nothing more then a waste of money,time and means of selfsatisfaction after reviewing said purchase.maybe if the parents went back to beatin some ass from time to time,when kids get out of hand and are not doing good in school.now im not saying beat them to death,but it comes down to the parents before anyone else let alone any "possible distractions" that might be causing them to lose focus.my a-d-d and other mental issues that cuase me to become distracted and moody,but video games have helped my ass learn to focus and try to reach goals better then they ways teachers tried to get me too.everybody learns in different ways.most wont work with civilization as a whole but in areas/cases/whereever the orgin of stemed possibilites lay it dos and will continue to work.

    my favorite game series to play is Grand Thef auto.i tend to zone out from time to time and just roam around and kill people.useally finding ways to run-away from the law.finding how cars react to certin turran and beatings.how to interact with certin people of self-employment.pretty much the only skill i could think of is treating people kind and actually respect people.including you might not know who might be undercover,working for the "mob" stuff like that.along with patience,understand and tatics

    Muliplayer games.the most thing your going to hear is everyone saying they help build peoples self esteem.making them feel apart of something grander then they are.creating the center of interaction for teamwork,uplifting spirits when they win and getting people to learn/cope to deal with loss/losing.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 8:25 AM
  • bigmonstefan

    Right now I am really getting a kick out of how developers are going into different styles of literature and utilizing those styles to create worlds for players to explore. 2k studios was able to make the distopia and its citizens in Bioshock thanks to Ayn Rand (whether you agree with her views or not or are somewhere in between). Eternal Darkness was a wonderful expression of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I think the earliest game I can think of to be crafted so closely around a work of literature was xenogears and its very twisted portrayal of many of the main themes of the Bible. The xeno series went on to use some of Nietzsche's work to help it's story. I apologize if I sound a bit pretentious with all of this, but I truly do have a lot of fun just going through games such as the ones I mentioned and experiencing the developers' applications of the themes of classic literature in the foundations of their games.
    Of course, that's just one thing I enjoy. Not all games use all that, and they're still amazing. Adam mentioned being an English major and it got me thinking about books and such. Now excuse me while I go take advantage of the bloody mess perk in fallout 3.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 7:55 AM
  • massxacceleration

    'technology is more a product of a generation than a generation is the product of technology'

    Very well said, tehblessed
    thats a thinker

    Posted: May 12, 2010 7:33 AM
  • tehblessed

    To me the speech seems more like him saying we shouldn't waste time with entertainment or listen to information that he states is "invalid"...

    It's up to ever person to consider that everything they hear isn't fact. From teachers to books, blogs to news feeds, there are plenty of cases of misinformation regardless of the format. I can't think of a single source of information that I would feel comfortable telling people not to question.

    As far as entertainment goes, people will always find ways to entertain themselves. I can think of quite a few that are much worse than video games. In fact, video games are one of those things I would consider wholesome entertainment. Obviously there are specific games that showcase more smut than is necessary, but there are books falling under the same category.

    Technology is more a product of a generation than a generation is the product of technology. Video games are just the latest form of entertainment, not the only one. Blogs and online media are just the newest form of information (and misinformation) but certainly not the only one. Talking is the oldest form of misinformation. =P

    Posted: May 12, 2010 6:53 AM
  • joe888

    Good point. If Obama can actually search just one summon in Final Fantasy, then he could find tons of learning info. Every video game is story for me. I play them, because I can finally control the books. I make hero see everything it has to offer. It would take billions of pages of one book, to filled what I do in one video game. I still read. I read whenever there is a rerun on TV, on plane trip, or a car trip. I walk a lot.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 5:08 AM
  • drewcom

    "You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter," he told the students. "And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

    Please Adam read the whole quote. This isn't about gaming or technology. This is about "arguments" (assuming contrary to his ideology) and down playing "information" as a distraction. How can having more information be worse than having less. It truly seems he is asking us to stop looking for information and stop listening to "arguments". That shouldn't set well with any intellectually honest person. And another thing, is it too much to ask that the government clean up their own messes before telling us how to clean up ours? Here's a thought, maybe for once they can lead by example.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 5:06 AM
  • ScienceOfSleep

    the dragon remark made me lol.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 4:50 AM