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

  • siknik

    I think gaming is a great way to build decision making. Also I see gamining as a form of release and it's main function is to be entertaining. That being said I do not think that games necessarily take away from education. I think especially in the liberal sciences that games not only build character but a sense of imagination. Being imaginative is what advances us to want to learn more and create more. Sure games do not teach you what the square root of 635 is but it does teach you different ways to look at society as a whole and expand from there. Also an education is something to be treasured but I do not think college is necessarily needed for everyone. It all ends up with what people want to do and what makes them happy. Everyone doesn t need to go to college to be happy in life. That being said I think video games help make society dynamic and help open minds for a bright future.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:41 PM
  • bmackisback


    Sounds like you've been reading a lot of research. For the past decade educational researchers like Prensky and Gee have been studing the effects of video games on education. The result has been nothing less than fantastic. Video games have allowed the students to 'critically think' in situations that would normally not be exposed to. But, as you say, there is a limit, too much of a good thing may not be so good.

    I do kind of agree with Obama about the Internet and ipads. We have become a society that can look up facts immediately. However, knowing a fact or an historical date doesn't make one intelligent. It's knowing how to apply these facts and dates in context. If you haven't had the chance, watch The Prisoner (1968) episode The General. It's amazing that after 40 years we are facing this same sort of situation with education.

    Great Soapbox this week... Break a leg in the commencement speech (do they say 'break a leg' for a speech or just 'good luck'?) Wish you the best!

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:22 PM
  • Biggey

    I honestly couldn't agree more!

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:17 PM
  • drewcom

    Come on Ses, your smarter than this. Just because you have an affinity for something (or someone) doesn't mean you shouldn't look at it (them) critically. His quotes are about "information" and who you should and shouldn't listen to. The first thing any good dictator does is control information. Chavez did it, Castro did it, hell Hitler did it. All very effective at controlling the hearts and minds of the blinded people they lead (led). I am not calling Obama Hitler but the recent action by the FCC and now the FTC are ominous signs of things to come. Back to Adams remarks, talking about this from the stand point of a video game discussion is distorting the message. He only threw in the remarks about technology because it's common complaint about how "the kids are spending too much time in front of the damn TV now a days". It's an attempt to get you to buy in to the rest of the speech, which was apparently glossed over. Don't talk about the seasoning on a plate of rancid food.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:09 PM
  • XFRod

    It's easy to understand when someone says, "I like Mass Effect 'cause I can't really have an intergallactic spaceship and shoot aliens with lasers." It makes since to most people, we can't get these things IRL, no matter how much talent or money you have.

    It's also a true statement that MLB'10:The Show is a great way to feel like you're playing in the big leagues, even if it's just for a little while. Although, with enough talent or money (I'm talking to you, Yankees) playing in the Major League could happen.

    However, there are thousands of us gamers that have never played physical sports and, never will. The notion that games allow people to experience places and situations that they normally could never experience in "reality", means even more to those physically disabled gamers out there, like myself.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:00 PM
  • OysterOfDoom

    With a degree in psychology (and one class away from degrees in neuroscience and MCD biology), I tend to have an idiosyncratic approach to topics like these. I would argue that enjoying a game is less about rationally analyzing a game than rationalizing why you enjoy a game. The insula and cingulate cortex take information from the body and assign emotional significance to it. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and other structures release hormones (like norepinephrine) and/or affect heart rate, etc. The nucleus accumbens assigns rewarding experience and mediates reward seeking behavior through the basal ganglia ("can't put down the controller") Finally, the neocortex is connected to all these processes and tries to make sense of it all.

    While simplified a great deal, the brain is generally more attuned to the "primal" experiences of fright, excitement, etc. than cerebral endeavors. This may explain why highly scripted, action oriented games are more successful than RPGs and strategy games. It may also explain the preponderance of action movies and games. Conversely, there are psychological processes that reward long term, difficult, and intermittently rewarding endeavors. The neocortex can influence the 'primal' input and emotions, too.

    I cannot add to, or summarize, the existing literature about how videogames can increase body-brain coordination or increase creative problem solving.

    Summary: What we all knew to begin with. Different people are affected by different games in different ways. Some will use games as their exciting break from learning and work; their relaxing, but still challenging brain exercise; their brainless AND boring farmville-type exercise; or their entire life.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:56 PM
  • BlitzSage

    I believe this question is related to the "Video games as art" debate. As most of you are aware, there are college courses that focus on film, music, and literary theory. Adam would probably know that many Greek myths alongside other aspects of Greek culture are the foundation of Western civilization. Most great writers often reference Greek tales in their work, and Sigmund Freud named a psychoanalytical theory after a Greek play. Therefore, appreciation of the arts clearly has educational value, otherwise classs would not be devoted to the numerous forms.

    What makes games fun is that they are an emerging art and storytelling medium. Whether you are playing Final Fantasy VI, with its well-constructing plot, Fallout 3 for its immersion, or Mario for its imaginative quality, you are experiencing something that is educating you, portraying the human condition, or inspiring you to learn.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:52 PM
  • GiantN64

    Congratulations on your up coming speech.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:43 PM
  • starclassics

    Even though I don't necessarily agree with Adam's political views on everything, there's a simple premise that should be followed by the American government in general:

    get out of my life. I can do things on my own, thank you very much, as long as you don't get in my way.

    I think it's already pretty obvious that our President is exactly what he always has been: the dumbest smart guy in the room.

    I do enjoy that it's stressed in the opener that Adam isn't arguing with the President. Good for you Adam. Would be ashame to disappear in a black bag, no? lol

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:36 PM
  • theantigzus

    really adam norcal??? we'll thats 1 good thing to come out of norcal maybe 1 day we'll get a 2 out of them

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:35 PM
  • Axel_of_the_Key

    Let's see...I'll address something almost humorous I've been playing lately, sort of, Pokemon SoulSilver. What I'm still doing after beating the main fights of the game is looking into building teams. All the various choices, evolutions, and nuances of the game are fantastic to think about. I've taken it to the point of trying to find the appropriate levels to evolve and building movesets, but it goes even deeper, like with EV's, IV's, and an individual Pokemon's nature. All the deep analysis of building strategies, picking Pokemon that create a balanced team, and combining this with one's actual aesthetic enjoyment of the Pokemon team is a lot of fun. Figuring out these mechanics is a test of one's problem-solving and information gathering skills, as none of these are put forth in front of you directly. It took trial and error of the people playing these games to acquire this information, and while many may simply look it up, taking the time to figure it out for oneself is definitely a sign of true intellect.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:22 PM
  • GHOSTY009

    I am perhaps misunderstanding Obama's statement, but from what I saw in the quote he didn't seem to be saying games were evil or anything like that. What I took from it was that he sees games and other entertainment having a hand in how we receive information and that it's being formed in such a way as to make it entertainment. Making information entertainment takes away from the empowerment (or so he said) As far as I'm concerned gaming and other electronic mediums can be a distraction, but they're so much more than that. Games in particular give people a chance to be exposed to an idea, culture, etc that they might not otherwise be exposed to. I live in Wyoming, a state not largely known for its web-ready personality and understanding. In my day to day the people I can communicate with over long distances has broken down barriers and culture preconceptions that otherwise might not have been. I feel it is a lot like Adam said about his highschool being diverse, the net is the most diverse social setting you can get involved in.

    Games and interactive media have so much potential it amazes me, in something like Second Life which is arguably not a "game" people are able to communicate ideas in such a way they wouldn't normally. I think back to the video on youtube about the woman who has multiple sclerosis and is limited by her wheelchair, and through Second Life she is able to socialize and interact with others facing the same medical issues that she wouldn't have in the real world. I am of the opinion that Games are indeed a distraction, but not so much because they break information down, but more that we have so many means to obtain information its more a distraction of where to get it.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:19 PM
  • PockyKing

    Well said, Adam! I completely with you!

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:16 PM
  • ELpork

    The addictive nature of leveling systems seems to be the sticking factor for most gamers... Ok, when i say most, I mean COD/WoW payers, but they make up a VAST majority of us, weather we like it or not.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:11 PM
  • Kouper

    Sorry, any time I hear a national leader say he thinks information is a distraction and should be limited I think they should be out of office.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:08 PM
  • Keine_Lust

    Obama is such a freakin noob.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:05 PM
  • ddc2494

    Talk about over-reaction.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 7:00 PM
  • scoobythebeast

    That was a close call with your high school Adam. I'm in a similar situation but its official, were closing. I go to a private school and the Archbishop of Baltimore owns the school. Well 2 months ago he decided that my school wasn't worth keeping open so we're closing effective June 1st. Being a high school junior, I have to have my senior year in a high school were no one knows me and I'm still expected to get college recommendation letters from teachers and these teachers won't know anything about me. Sorry for giving you my life story there, but i agree with what your saying about any media today, its almost all about entertainment and not information.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 6:59 PM
  • DeadRedManiac

    Well I can't be arsed to read all these long thoughtful intellectual comments. Does that make me lazy or just a certain choice i perceive? Hell it could be both. What I have come to realize about education at least from primary 1-12 has a majority of nothing to do with anything beside basic skill building in a certain area to know something. Video games, education, hate, love, it doesn't matter what you think or how you want to look at something it all comes down to 300 million people in the united states and if 51% of them enjoy video games then that's all that matters isn't it?

    Posted: May 11, 2010 6:54 PM
  • Suhaila

    People evolve. We are evolving into a society where distractions are everywhere, some we like (video games) and others we don't (bosses having you on a blackberry leash regardless of the time or day). Either people accept that or they don't and they fall by the wayside.

    Also, aren't games and music way better distractions than the typical alcoholic inducing happy hours after work that most people indulged in back in the day before video games and decent tv?

    Posted: May 11, 2010 6:49 PM