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Games People Play



After years of research into the burgeoning video game market, we've decided to finally help America face the music of the electronic gaming industry. Anvil has consulted a number of industry psychologists and analysts to help address the issues behind the growing popularity of gaming and the subsequent growth of America's collective ass. Listed here are the Top 10 psychological problems with video gaming technology and why it will never replace real gaming or real life. Sit back, press play and enjoy.

10) How many zany furry animals can Sony and Nintendo actually come up with? Sooner than later, the reality of wildlife behavior and pet sensibility sets in, leaving gamers sad with real animals' lack of longevity and apparent lack of humor. From hedgehogs, skunks and bunnies, to Italian repair men, super heroes and everyday Joes, the concept of electronic character development has neared its formulaic extinction.

9) We read that a particular driving game does a very good job of simulating the responsiveness and feel of a real car, yet I'm disappointed, because the car I drive in the real world never feels anything remotely close to the lack of feeling I receive from the video racing experience. As real cars fail to match their virtual counterparts in performance characteristics, gamers find themselves constantly pushing the limits of the Hyundais and Mazdas in an effort to match what they think is the "real feel." Much more than just a huge psychological letdown, this has also helped drive the massive growth of the aftermarket high performance auto parts industry.

8) First person shooters leave players thinking that modern combat is little more than a series of walls and objects to hide behind. Since Doom and Duke Nukem, the concept of walking through labyrinths blasting enemies has proliferated the gaming market. True, there are more advanced versions requiring greater control over details like ammunition and communications, but the fact remains, you can't duplicate 360 degree sensation. People who master these games master mathematical probability, not the ability to manage enemies in a maze-like environment. Ask any marine returning from street combat in Iraq -first-person shooters are little more than a modern update on an old idea: the shooting gallery. Gamers beware: first person burnout can cause tunnel vision.

7) Games like Resident Evil do an excellent job of infusing a menacing storyline with more traditional gaming techniques, but their promises never deliver true results. Horror games always fall victim to their own genre, failing to deliver enough supernatural wickedness or game playing intrigue to make them worth their time, thus leaving the gamer with entertainment mediocrity. The fact remains; the gamer knows that neither the game action nor the horror are anywhere close to being good examples of either genre, thus negating the experience and sending the gamer back to Blockbuster.

6) You just can't duplicate the smell of Monopoly money, nor the tactile quality of little hotels and houses stacking up on Boardwalk. Long live the board game and long live the poker face.

5) Sim games may represent the ultimate in vicarious living, but they make a false light of real life, leaving players disappointed with reality. Visit a real book store, club or theme park. The experience is nowhere near the same as the pop-top view into the sim world, but at least you'll have the chance of rubbing shoulders with flesh and blood, instead of pixels. At the very least, your chances of getting lucky are substantially better than staring at your monitor.

4) No matter how you roll the dice, strip poker via a high-speed connection or virtual players is exactly that virtual. No matter how good the resolution or graphics, you can't see up close and personal nuances like wrinkles on slouching tummies or the glisten of an embarrassed complexion. Strip poker is meant to be stripped down to the real minimum. Wannabes need not apply.

3) Pretending to break into houses and carjack innocent victims eventually loses its appeal, because the reality offers too many social pitfalls to make it worth taking out of the virtual world. Crime-oriented games eventually succumb to the fact that they cross an instinctual boundary between what is fun and what will give you ten to life. 95 percent of players just can't hack the reality and thus shun the virtual. Someone tell Rockstar games, their parent company's stock price keeps climbing (NASDAQ: TTWO).

2) Replacing the NFL's best players with fat couch potatoes will never happen. While many people invest endless hours in front of the television attempting to master Drew Bledsoe's on-field performance, when they rise from the sofa they suddenly realize there's absolutely no value in their exploits and that they're still Jonsin' to see Bledsoe do it live on FOX. Controlling a real person in a virtual world often sends gamers into a state of negative self realization where the feeling of inadequacy overpowers their desire to play. Avoid the slump: get off the Lazyboy and do something real.

1) Virtual gaming and video games will be and always have been a virtual creation of something that truly exists or that someone wishes truly existed. The fact is, you just can't duplicate life or unknown life and when you take someone beyond reality, they eventually have to come back. And when they do, it isn't always a pretty picture. Once the mind is clear of gnashing aliens, lumbering lineman and secret agents, the speed and intensity of the real world just can't compete. Gamers are left feeling cynical and misunderstood. To best enjoy the benefits of electronic gaming, treat it like any other addiction: all good things in moderation.