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Evolution of Video Games and Athletics

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Gaming class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

My topic is exploring how the evolution of video games could come to effect sports and athletics. As video games become more advanced, they also become more realistic. When such realism is applied to sports-related games, it is possible that the game itself could be used to train humans to be better on the field. Indeed, the Wii has already started this trend. While it is debatable whether games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit actually improve one’s athletic ability, such games are a clear indication that advancement in technology could lead to more realistic games that have more tangible effects in the real world.

My source is a CNN article from September 2008 that discusses a new technology that could use thought control in video games. The technology, called the Emotiv EPOC headset, is able to recognize and process basic thought patterns in the human brain. Such technology allows for a deeper and more intense video game experience than anything humans have ever imagined. The article notes that Tan Le, President and co-founder of Emotiv Systems, “envisaged the lines between games and reality continuing to blur” because of this new technology. If, as Tan Le believes, video games can continue to become more realistic because of this new technology, then the indication is that the skills needed in real life will start to coincide with the skills needed in gaming. Such an event would open the possibility for video games to be used as a method to both train and build skills that could be used in real life.

Although the article never mentions sports explicitly and despite the fact that the device would seem to be aimed at mental activity rather than physical activity, the article still fits into the conversation about my topic because it is strong evidence that my hypothesis is possible. The technology, once developed more, could certainly be used to train the mental parts of sports. When I say mental parts of sports, I mean how fast your brain is able to process physical activity by others. For example, when a pitcher throws a pitch to a batter in baseball, it is of pivotal importance that the batter quickly be able to see the pitch, process what he sees, and then determine many things about it, such as its location, speed, and the type of pitch. The technology being described in the article could conceivably evolve to a point where it could both test and train such sports-related mental skills as reading a pitch, thus suggesting that my hypothesis has some validity.


This seems like an interesting topic. I'd look for other sources, just so you can have something that directly deals with your topic.
Another thing athletes could do with video games is test out new game plans and see how well they work. Through simulations they could see what areas they need to work on.

I like how this is working out, Corey. You do a great job presenting your topic, and I believe the source is a perfect, perfect example of where gaming could go and how that could lead to real world "tangible" results.

Something I believe would be interesting to explore (while it might not fall in the style of your paper, it could still be interesting just to think about) is whether or not this is a good step for gaming. I believe it is arguable that this could have very serious effects on how gaming is viewed. At the current moment, you need no skill in football to be great at Madden, but with the development of this technology, it is very possible that those who struggled in reality with football will also now struggle in virtual reality with football. Video games generally put everyone on the same platform to succeed, but if brain patterns start to govern game play, will people who are good in the outside world also be good at video games? Will video games lose their glory as they are just as strenuous as the real games?

This is a very interesting topic. There has been quite a strong push towards incorporating physical activity into video games, specifically you mention the wii sports game system.

You suggest that someday in the future this technology could train althletes off the fields and in their living rooms hooked up to game systems? This is quite a controversial idea. Now players, instead of communication physically with real players would instead practice within a virtual world, and that includes virtual people. This would take out all of the social aspects of playing sports and being on a team. Instead a player could hook himself up to his game system and play sports within his own virtual world. What effects would this have on player to player relationships within a real game?

Could professional athletes and even athletes on a lower scale level like a high school sports team really train on a game system like this?

This is a very interesting topic Corey!

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