You've also probably noticed the questions on various topics as to society's interaction with this interactive media. To help foster these discussions I've written down some musings on a selection of subjects.
Before I write any more I believe I should point out that I played my first game when I was three, according to my parents, and they'll testify that I haven't really stopped since. A case could be made for me growing up my entire life with video games. But with that confession out of the way may the musing begin.
"Computer games are a waste of time!" a common criticism that is often heard levelled at video gamers and, while it can be true in the same way that watching television or reading a book can become a waste of time, it often is symptomatic of some underlying prejudices. An example of a common notion is that since, video games exist in a virtual world, they are a form of escapism.
Some writers on the subject suggest that this is linked to the concept of the Internet being akin to a Wild West frontier and this being tied to the notion that computer screens are an interface, often implying barrier, to this frontier world. While this may have been a strong analogy a decade ago the frontier of the Internet has been quickly settled and "civilised".
Online games in today's world of gaming often involve a player's friends which they would still see in day-to-day life. So in many ways it is akin to the social aspect of children playing on a playground or friends in your sports team. From this perspective, within the realms of being a functional human and not being overly obsessed, computer games are a common and valid form of social interaction.
Something further which you may have noticed is how people who play the same games will often talk about them in the same way as two people would talk about a common sport or a movie they'd both seen. But here we may also find ourselves colliding with the feeling that video games our not equally valid when compared to activities we would commonly classify as sports or as artistic.
There are both arguments that support and discount this notion, so I feel it is outside the scope of my brief musings to expand on the discussion. What I'd like to convey is that it is important to be aware that this has crept into our perceptions of video games and not leap to judgemental assumptions on the validity of someone else's chosen pass time.
The final quagmire I shall try and touch on is a subject that is broadly applicable to media in all its forms, including the purely artistic, but has been a hot topic for video games in particular. The question is often aimed at the genre known as First-person shooters, FPSs, gamers love their acronyms, as to whether their potentially over violent content is unnecessary?
Phrased alternatively, is the content of some games overindulgent for the subject matter being addressed and the messages being conveyed? Once again I would say that you could argue either way on a case by case basis however on this subject I feel it is, as a participant, your prerogative to do be discerning about the content you choose to engage with.
Just like any other form of media it's not all for you. Furthermore just like any other form of media, "But everyone else is doing it!" is not a valid reason to accept it or to be a part of it.
Please don't read this the wrong way, there are plenty of popular games out there that involve little to no violence that people of all ages play and enjoy and there are some gritty, confronting games that handle their subject matter very well but I say the above as a word of common sense.
Well, there's my musings, hopefully this helps continue these discussions in productive and reasoned direction as we continue to delve deeper into the realms of interactive entertainment.
Sam Gillespie is an Undergraduate Composition student and a computer programmer based in Sydney.
Sam Gillespie's archive of previous articles can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-gillespie.html