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

  • tdogg06051991

    I think Obama was right in so many ways. But he doesn't credit them as a viable form of learning media as well. Now I think the distinction of Distraction vs piece of credible learning material was just not considered by him. I get that a lot of games bring to the table a different aspect of thinking, you take quake 2 split screen. Now this game requires no though or intelligence to think about what is actually going on you just run and gun. A lot of people take that simple aspect and bring it to MW2 and like to just not think but play. You take the new game bulletstorm and move that online. There are tons of games out that do this as well as movies and music that are so simple or just instrumental the require no thought but just enjoyment. But when you look at Heavy Rain or Alan Wake they deal you into an in-depth story and immerse you, trying to make you make the best decisions possible. Now when you take that into consideration not all games are a distraction from the more important things like studying and college. But then again Obama did say he has never played any. I say that we write letters to him telling him to come to E3 and see what this "gaming" thing is all about.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 3:22 AM
  • Agent 47

    I think to round up games into one group and to put a label on them like Obama just did is wrong. He even admitted he was ignorant on the subject, (the usage of the devices I mean). What he did would be the same as me saying that all books are good and to take whatever they say as fact; no matter what book I was taking about. Putting labels on things and people has led to so much trouble for this country. I could go on all day about what labels have done to divide this country but I won't do it here. I will say this however. Obama labeled video games and other media as "distractions." Yet, he himself admitted that he was hooked on his BlackBerry. Now, we all know that while that brand of phones are great for conducting business, they are also able to provide entertainment in various forms. Is anyone here going to trying to tell me that he ONLY used his BlackBerry for business, that he never once used his phone as a "distraction?" What about his other activities? Its been reported that he golfs several times a month. Well, shouldn't golf be considered a "distraction?" I mean look, how on earth can playing golf help him be President? Don't get me wrong I love golf. I'm just making a point that even a healthy and hard thinking game like golf could be labeled the same as video games, a "distraction." Obama needs to think before he speaks. If he doesn't know the subject material well, then he (as well as others) need either learn the material or just not speak in ignorance about the subject.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 1:48 AM
  • BulldogTac50


    _Thank you_ for speaking up for gamers everywhere. It's deeply disappointing to see Obama spewing tomfoolery of the sort I really expect to be hearing from Bill O'Reilly.

    Very much looking forward to hearing your commencement speech!

    Posted: May 12, 2010 1:35 AM
  • holidaybob

    The best thing i've learned from video games comes from a lot of rpgs.
    That Ether gives you magic power!LOL

    Posted: May 12, 2010 1:31 AM
  • EttenCO

    I'm sure you will do excellent on the speech. Thanks for another good Soapbox.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 1:24 AM
  • furiousgeorge

    I think what makes a game great for a person is the psychological aspect it has on them. Ever since I watched Jessie Schell's presentation at DICE, I've been thinking a lot about psychology and gaming. For example I love getting trophies on my PS3 almost all the games I buy, I buy for my PS3 and not my 360. I'm not a fan boy I love both systems, but there is just something about getting a trophy wither it be bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. The fun thing is achievements don't do anything for me. It's the same thing, almost all games have the same requirements to earn a trophy/achievement.
    I know Adam has mentioned it quite a bit in his soap boxes and on the Feed, we play games becuase we want to try to experience something that would likely never happen in our real lives. I think once people understand that, then they'll understand why people old and young love playing video games. My dad never really understood why I love video games. He never said that "video games will make you a crazy killer" or that your wasting your time. He just never grasped why I play. He's a car fanatic, so when Forza 3 came out I bought it. I'm not really into racing games though, I do enjoy Forza. I showed it to him and all the things you customize and unlock, he loved it. He can't get the whole duel analog sticks down, so I got the steering wheel. When I would go to my parents house for Sunday dinner, he would call me up and ask me to bring my 360 so he could play. He would call me up during the week to ask me if I had unlocked any new cars. Finding the one thing a person loves that they probably couldn't experience in real life and show them that they can experience through a video game. My dad will probably never drive a Ford GT 40 and Le Manns, but through a video game and great developers he can. That is what makes a game great, giving us an experience that we couldn't do in real life. Explore decisions and their consequences. Go places we've never been before whether it be geographically or morally. I found out that even in a video game it's hard for me to do something morally wrong like murder somebody. I always play the good guy, becuase I just like helping people out. That's just a few things I think about gaming. I love the soapbox segment, love the feed. It's nice to hear people talk civil and mature about gaming.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 12:45 AM
  • expl0siv0

    Thanks in advance for posting the commencement speech at guild hall, I'm looking forward to it.
    Also what makes games fun... hmmm... I think it is a sense of doing something right and positive in the game's universe. I always like to watch the Soapbox on borderlands and how grinding is good to reinforce that point. Also in videogames you have so much more control of a character in a game than you have in life. For example in real life I'm not going to go bashing into cars like I can in GTA IV over Adam's right shoulder but in GTA I will because in some cases I am encouraged to do crazy stuff like that, and I am rewarded. Rewards don't come by often in real life. In videogames you can get rewards by a +50 xp thing popping up upon killing an enemy or an intense flash of color like in Geometry Wars like I'm playing now.
    Also it does exactly what Obama said was a negative: they distract people. And sometimes, we all need to be distracted.

    Posted: May 12, 2010 12:24 AM
  • allmightythunder

    I am a student at the art institute of Pittsburgh currently studying game art and design. What Adam Sessler is talking about is the very point of my game play and game design, this is essential to be a game designer.

    Very good point mr. Sessler

    Posted: May 12, 2010 12:16 AM
  • BlueCrow24

    I'm not quite sure how I feel about his statements. As a gamer, I do find it rather annoying that he'd attack the concept of gaming, but upon looking again at his quote, I don't find it much of an attack. I'd like to refute his statement that it's not an empowerment though. On the contrary, I find it a valid form of expression and I games are often politically charged and have positive messages, whether those be subtle ones or thin veiled allegories bashed over you're skull. I don't believe he should be attacking videogames, iPods, and iPads, but rather more damaging things to our democracy, such as the clearly biased news outlets. When news starts fighting for ratings, it simply becomes impossible to deliver just facts when you have to compete with networks giving people what they want to hear rather than the pure truth. That's the real damage to our system, the distortion of the truth, not the presentation of morals in the form of electronic entertainment.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 11:54 PM
  • punkerdante182

    Let's see what makes games "fun".....This is something I've been starting to wrestle with because I am studying to BECOME a video game designer. Looking back to my past the first game I ever got was tetris and mario for the gameboy. I would play with my pixeled counterparts constantly. However the first game that was my "I can't put this down because it's so awesome" game is "pokemon". Pokemon as many of us know went by the concept "easy to learn hard to master". This fueled a drive in me that I need to understand and grasp this new world and be "the best" at it. More so I wanted to prove I was the best by beating my friends. Later in life after getting a ps2 and later an xbox 360 and playing more and more video games each world was something different. Some kept me up all night, others I couldn't finish cause they were boring, poorly made or just weren't "fun". And that was the key difference in the end. Is this game fun? I think the two games that best showcase this are left 4 dead and super smash brothers (all work but I'll use brawl as my example). Both games encourage very basic things within us and both have worlds that we want to live in. Weather it be a zombie apocalypse, or a world where Mario can ruthlessly best on Pikachu. Both of these games are very FUN. I spent many nights drinking with friends and playing super smash brothers because essentially anyone can play it. I also spent many nights online killing hordes of infected because valve got a lot of things just RIGHT. From the feel blowing a zombies head off with a shotgun, too some of the more frantic moments where teamwork really counts. The concept of what is fun and what isn't is very subjective. Even now the trolls are firing up there caps locks at how retarded I am and that's ok. Their entitled to their opinion as much as I am. BUT just because they disagree with me doesn't make them wrong. If Halo or starcraft or animal crossing pulled them in to their world and it brought fun into their life then all they did was prove my point. Fun is subjective. There is no right answer or formula. Like any movie or book you have to make it and put it out there for people to interpret. All you CAN do is make sure that a stupid mistake like bad voice acting, glitches that pull you out of the game and/or long load times don't make it into your final product. If you make something your passionate about and that you have FUN making and want to make, then that translates into whatever your making. I guess in the end fun is enjoying what your doing. All video games can do is be fun through their story, or game mechanics, or delivery and hope that gets picked up by the most important person in the end. The player.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 11:51 PM
  • hathur

    Pardon my previous rant... as to Adam's point... I've learned a lot from gaming.. about topics I would likely not have since I've grown up and lived in urban areas all my life.

    An old PC game called Lords of the Realm 2 taught me about how farming works... the importance of leaving fields fallow and countless other aspects of agriculture... the civilization series (played 1 - 4) taught me a lot about history... all throughout the series they had "civilopedias" which had accurate historical information about buildings, technology (I learned more about the history of how man created the alphabet from the game than I ever did in school) and military technologies (bronze working, iron working, steel, smelting, etc).

    I tend to play more cerebral games though.. not into the action shooters and such which the majority of the population plays... I enjoy strategy games, empire building games, roleplaying games even.. these tend to often teach you something in at least some limited capacity... for instance, Eve Online taught me a LOT about real world markets and economies (though the game is boring as sin... the market aspect is stunningly robust and can teach one a lot about market concepts).

    A lot can be learned from games in fields you would normally never encounter from conventional education or your lifestyle... assuming you play more than just the button mashing shooters of course.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 11:50 PM
  • Malapropism

    can you please change the theme song to this? i hate it and it annoys my ears as soon as i hear the 2nd beap, how about selkies: the endless obsession by btbam?

    anyway what i like about video games is choice, hence why i like rpgs, specifically mass effect, but i actually think mass effect doesn't go far enough, i'd like to see the world completely change due to your decisions, not just see someone talk about it later on in the story

    Posted: May 11, 2010 11:40 PM
  • hathur

    You Americans are a bit of an odd lot... bad enough with your adolescent puritan views / concepts... but now your president shifts the faults of society to electronic devices... rather than to the individuals.... I could've sworn Obama was an educated man.... his rant about electronic devices sounded like it was coming from an uneducated hermit.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 11:35 PM
  • JudgeFenris

    Video games are as much of a learning tool as anything else you can find. All forms of media can equally teach as much as they can entertain. Some are more potent than others, but this does not mean the weaker should be dismissed.

    Alot of games believe it or not can teach you alot about life. Keeping in mind that when a game developer designs a title they take inspiration with everything that is around them from the world we all know well.

    I have learned alot about economics from a few good titles out there more so than in ay social studies class in elementary or highschool. The same way that I have learned much more in an art class in school than I would learn alone or independantly. As Sessler stated, a balance is the best way to go about it.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 10:19 PM
  • beesdaddy

    Hey guys. I recently did some research on this very subject. "what makes games fun?"

    My result is an infopraphic on a gamers brain and how it works. I would really love any feedback you guys and gals have.

    http://www.slideshare.net/be esdaddy/a-gamers-brain-by-rob- beeson

    Posted: May 11, 2010 10:08 PM
  • rikkuster

    First of all, congratulations to you, Adam, for being the commencement speaker for the Guildhall. I actually just went through my own graduation today!

    Second, I want to say how much I appreciate you posting these Soapboxes every week. I feel like I learn to look at things in ways I never thought I would. So basically, I feel smarter.

    And for my last point, I want to say that video games to me can also be a rather unorthodox learning experience. I've come across many unfamiliar words, phrases, ideas, etc. when I've played games throughout the years and there have been numerous occasions that I've learned something new from a video game that I may have never come across had I not played said game. Also, I want to add that as a graphic designer, (my major I just graduated with) video games are a ever-abundant source of inspiration. Whether it be a philosophical reason or just because the artwork is so darn pretty video games can and are more than just mindless entertainment. They can be, and often are, a very thought-provoking piece of media.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 9:05 PM
  • Arietis

    I know if it weren't for the Total War series of games, I wouldn't have a fifth of the knowledge of history than I do now, because those games got me seriously interested in history to the point where I sought out more information.

    Really, I just think video games, like books and movies, provide a sense of escapism. But video games are unique to books and movies, because in video games you can experience the experience directly.

    As for why specific games are more fun than others, I don't really know. That's for you reviewers to figure out and tell us so we don't waist our money ;)

    Posted: May 11, 2010 9:02 PM
  • greeknerd

    What makes a game fun? What separates an amazing game from a great game? Good games tend to excel in certain areas and lack in others. Examples of these games are Splintercell Conviction, Just Cause 2, and No More Heroes 2. In an amazing game the story, gameplay, controls, pacing, graphics, and everything else in an amazing game work cohesively together, presenting very memorable experiences such as Mass Effect 2, God of War 3, and (hehe) Killzone 2.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:50 PM
  • popsickle59

    Really, In games, I believe it is it's own experience. Any game, (FPS, adventure, racing, puzzle, etc.) creates a system and overall framework which the player works within. For example, in mario, It took you a while to get past that air fortress in world 8, but you were using the knowledge you had acquired about the world you occupied that led you to try different approaches and solve certain puzzles. Another quick example would be Professor Layton.

    And even from a non-education approach. For example, Halo. Now, what has Halo even taught or done good in the world? Put aside the story writing and the intricate web of literary references for now. At the core level, Halo (and many other sandbox games) construct a form of the physical world the player plays with. Now, that's playing, but it is also the same mental construction of what is possible and what can become possible on the plane of existence. It's this playful view of possibilities and problem solving that is what I take with me everytime I put down the controller.

    Now motivation to solve our past generation's mistakes..... that's been an issue long before video games were a twinkle in Television's eye.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:48 PM
  • torchwood243

    i agree with adam. education and learning is important, but you need another prevalent source to rely on. a great example would be Heavy Rain. it gives the gamer some tough moral desicions to handle. yet the story drives the person through... im not perfect, but i believe a healthy balance of not only school, but games is useful; whether you are casual, hardcore, or just in between...
    rock on sessler!

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:47 PM