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Grand Theft Childhood

April 24th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 1 Comment · Crispy Gamer, Print Screen

My new Print Screen column is up at Crispy Gamer. I review Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson’s Grand Theft Childhood.

There is a lot in the book that I didn’t go over in any detail in the column. One thing I do want to add is how aware Kutner and Olson are that gaming is, at this point in its evolution, a social activity. And they’re not talking about MMOs or Wii stuff. They mean run of the mill single player games – many of which do have a lot of violence – are community builders for many of today’s youth.

The logic is almost circular. Why do teenage boys play video games? Because other teenage boys play video games. It’s what they talk about. Games give you an entree into conversation and not playing games gives you one less thing to link you to your cohort. The authors go through more rigorous survey stuff to find out what young people like about games. “Fun” is the unhelpful answer, but there are other things going on, too – mod making, self-challenge. And bragging rights, of course. You can’t get more social than claiming bragging rights over your friends.

I highly recommend GTC, and not just to people who don’t know this stuff already. Too many gaming advocates don’t have the data at their fingertips; Kutner and Olson give you the information you need. You may not like all of their findings, but they did the hard work and are honest about the limitations of their surveys. It’s good social science.


One Comment so far ↓

  • Ken Wootton

    If you haven’t, check out the recent Game Theory episode where they interview one of the authors of GTC. It’s not every day where you would use words like measured and reasonable when describing a discussion with an author with books to sell about gaming. Colour me impressed and interested.