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Examiner
  • Games people play can pay

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  • The world changes, and we have choices about that.
    You can deny it, which is not recommended. Surely the last dinosaur was lonely and rather confused. You can embrace it wholeheartedly, which has dangers of its own. New and vitally important things come at us so quickly – and fade to nonimportance so quickly – that one is hard pressed to know whether to zig, zag or just stand there, petrified.
    You can grumble, which is the default more for most of us, but one is advised to fairly take the full measure of these things while muttering and fretting. The world will surprise, even pleasantly, if you’re open to it.
    Like just about any parent who has raised a male child during the last 20 years, I have worried about the endless and lost-forever hours that the young – boys in particular – waste on video games. And I mean waste.
    Hours on the basketball court working on your jump shot is at least a good cardiovascular thing. Endless time on pinball and – in my day – foosball is at least good for the, well, the wrists. And reflexes. Yes, let’s go with that.
    But these virtual games just engender couch potatoedness. And they are endless. At least pinball ends when you run out of quarters. Today’s gamers head for the basement and don’t see the light of day for weeks.
    Then there’s this conversation when the lad comes up the stairs to fetch Skittles, pop and a quick grilled-cheese sandwich. So, I totally dominated. I scored 54 points, and I was being guarded by LeBron. I mean – LeBron. Do you know how big that is? He’s like ...
    Yeah, I know who LeBron James is, and I know you didn’t score any 54 points off him in any real sense. You “played” against a simulated LeBron, and you probably programmed him to have a bad knee.
    You just don’t get it.
    No, I guess not.
    Then comes this: Last weekend they had an all-world championship of a well-known video game. They sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles in an hour. The winning team walked off with $1 million.
    No one ever got paid a million bucks to play foosball.
    Part of me is further dismayed. When I talk to young people and ask about their plans, it seems a disproportionate number of the less-than-focused males toss out something like “computer game design.” I know that’s simply code for “I love, really love, video games, and it’s the one thing on Earth that I perceive myself to be good at, so in some way that is not yet clear I’m going to get paid to do it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Right.
    So the million-dollar tournament just feeds hopes that Kid X will be the million-to-one-shot winner. Someday. Somehow.
    Kid X, of course, would be well advised to stick with math class, a much clearer path to success. But when virtual games get around to the point of real money, that’s a hard case to make. The world changes. What do we do with that?
    Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.

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