In “Everything Bad Is Good or You”, Steven Johnson argues that video games are not as detrimental as the Americans think it is, he rather believes that video games help in developing people’s cognitive and mental abilities (Johnson). …
If there is one thing that could invalidate Johnson’s arguments on the usefulness of video games in building the mental and cognitive abilities of children, it is in the existence of cheat codes. It therefore becomes pertinent to analyze Johnson’s arguments on this issue in order to ascertain its validity. Johnson bases his arguments on what he calls the sleeper curve as he says that, “the Sleeper Curve is a universe of popular entertainment that trends intellectually speaking, ever upward, so that today's pop-culture consumer has to do more cognitive work, making snap decisions and coming up with long term strategies in role playing video games, for example, or mastering new virtual environments on the Internet than ever before.” (Johnson 39). The existence of cheat codes; such as the ability of a player to access skill levels, tools, extra lives and abilities have really affected Johnson’s arguments on video games as his idea that video games help in broadening people’s minds are relegated to the background by the availability of cheat codes. Johnson believes that even the most boring video games are capable of stimulating interesting cognitive work in the mind of a child. Johnson could be right in his arguments that playing video games develop a child’s intelligence quotient (IQ) as research has shown that children that play video games tend to have higher IQs than children that do not, but the fact remains that the importance of video games in developing a child’s mental ability has been negated by the existence of cheat codes. These cheat codes have made it possible for children to win games easily and the essence of video games as a cognitive and mental building tool has been lost. Children play video games for fun and they derive more pleasure in winning their opponents and to achieve this, they use different tactics and strategies that would make them victorious in a particular game (Gee 17-18). Johnson also says that, “One of the best ways to grasp the cognitive virtues of game playing is to ask committed players to describe what’s going on in their heads halfway through a long virtual adventure like Zelda or Half Life.” (Johnson 47). The fact that the art of playing video games involves problem solving techniques would truly help make people that play them to be mentally alert, but when there are now cheat codes, this purpose is ultimately defeated. Children would usually rely on cheat codes, which are like shortcuts to success and video games would no longer serve the purpose that Johnson feels they should serve as these video games would no longer have the capability of building the intellectual capacity of the children. Rather than make good use of the advantages of the video games in building their intellectual capacity, children begin to see that there is a shortcut to success in life. Through the availability of cheat codes, the children would begin to look at life from another perspective as they would have a very bad mentality and think that they can achieve success by being insincere. While Johnson’s argument about video games could be true, the fact remains that they are only true in cases where there is no access to cheat codes. Video games if played the normal way have been known to develop a child’s mental ability. Children that play video games without access to cheat codes have the tendency of doing better than their parents on an IQ test, but the ones that use cheat codes would not have the same mental ability as the ones that play the games the normal way. The difference between the real world and the gaming world can also be deduced from this statement, “ ...
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