In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb colette poster

Colette

Knightley gives one of her best performances as a girl with spirit and talent who becomes a woman with ferocity and a voice

Thumb fahrenheit eleven nine

Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Video games as brain aerobics

pacman.jpg

Yes, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is generally an intellectual black hole. (Check that metaphor: Can a black hole be shallow? After all, doesn't it, too, instantly narrow to a single teeny point?) But this piece by Brian C. Anderson extolling the mental health benefits of video games does provide some amusing and intriguing fodder for our neverending debate about games and art and the human brain:

Video games can also exercise the brain in remarkable ways. I recently spent (too) many late-night hours working my way through "X-Men: Legends II: The Rise of Apocalypse," a game I ostensibly bought for my kids. Figuring out how to deploy a particular grouping of heroes (each of whom has special powers and weaknesses); using trial and error and hunches to learn the game's rules and solve its puzzles; weighing short-term and long-term goals -- the experience was mentally exhausting and, when my team finally beat the Apocalypse, exhilarating.

Advertisement

Technology writer Steven Johnson likens the intellectual process at work in video gaming to "the basic procedure of the scientific method." True, I might have better used my time reading Philip Roth's new novel, but as mind-aerobics this exercise surely beat watching the tube. As for my kids navigating the game, wouldn't it be comparable with their playing chess for hours?

A growing number of innovators recognize the intellectual benefits of gaming and seek to use video games for educational or therapeutic ends. The Serious Games Initiative, USA Today recently reported, got its start in 2002, when the U.S. Army released "America's Army," a free online game that allows players to "live" the Army. More than five million people have registered to play. Venture capital and philanthropic dollars are now pouring into Serious Games projects in health care, mathematics and government and corporate training. One encouraging early result is "Free Dive," a game that distracts children suffering from chronic pain or undergoing painful operations in real life with a calming underwater virtual reality.

And then there's this, the ultimate in video-game-into-movie marketing: Pac Man: The Movie.

(tips: Adam Keener, AS)

Popular Blog Posts

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

"You Were Expecting Someone Else?" Why a Non-White James Bond is the Franchise's Logical Next Step

Not only would Idris Elba make a great James Bond, the franchise has been building towards casting an actor of color ...

Grace and Nature: On Criterion’s Release of The Tree of Life

On the new Criterion release of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which includes a new 50-minute-longer extended cu...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus