Susan Greenfield lecture

Recently, Susan Greenfield gave a lecture at the Oxford Internet Institute. Apparently, she seems to be quite controversial, academically speaking. Unfortunately, the Q&A section, if there was one, wasn’t recorded.

The lecture is about 47 minutes long. Beneath the first video, there is another one from BBC’s Newsnight with Susan Greenfield and Ben Goldacre. He has a lot of critique on Greenfield’s media appearences. I most say that I am more on his side than on hers. In general, Greenfield’s argument in this lecture is for cognition and against sensory experiences. For instance, in her lecture she apparently favors Tolstoy’s War and Peace over the computer game Onimusha, in my opinion an normative and elitist position. Looking at Amazon’s ranking War and Peace ranks #32,658 while Onimusha ranks #8,345. This suggests the game is more popular than War and Peace. OK, the comparison in rank is not with out difficulties. Still, my argument is that Greenfield a) suggests War and Peace is more meaningful, and b) does not take into account their relative popularity. Regarding a), there are computer games that deal with moral choices (Bioshock, Black and White or Portal) and are more than just flashing lights and quick visual sequences. Navigating your way through a maze in a computer games requires quite some cognitive skills. So, the picture Greenfield’s presents is one-dimensional. Regarding b), even if computer games provide flat story lines, there are many more books that have little depth as well.

Killing in the game of …

A sad story: according to a Dutch newspaper a youngster in South Korea killed his mother over complaining about him being addicted to playing computer games. Then he killed himself. This is another case in an increasing strain of cases involving gaming addiction.

A similar case occurred early 2010 when a man killed his mother over her constant nagging about his computer gaming. Also early 2010, a couple’s baby starved to death because its parents were too busy raising a virtual baby online, according to the Korea Times. This has led to the South Korean government announcing action to curtail people playing computer games or surfing the Internet. Whether this action already took place, I doubt it. I’d be interested to learn about its effectiveness.

Although this seems to make computer gaming a suspect activity, there are millions of people that do not have these problems. Most likely there are some predispositions that make some people more susceptible to acquiring addictions. Anyhow, these cases attract a lot of media attention but maybe statistically not that different from deaths involving watching television or driving a car. Mind you, it is still very sad when people decide to resolve a conflict in the most physical way there is.

I’m not an expert on this matter of addiction. However in the Netherlands you have Jeroen Jansz and Jeroen Lemmens as experts.

A peek into our future?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be traveling to South Korea in a few weeks. For a quick impression what the “most wired place in the world” entails watch the following video on the Internet, gaming and addiction.

When you follow this link you’ll also find some links to some general and web statistics. For instance, apparently 43% of all Koreans maintain a weblog. South Korea has about 20,000 PC Bangs, Internet caf├ęs. My infrequent experience with Internet cafes are abroad to check upon email. These PC Bangs however are predominantly used to play games. In the Netherlands there are so-called LAN parties where gamers meet to play. Apparently the popularity seems to decrease as broadband Internet access becomes cheaper.

Furthermore, the Korea Communications Commission is planning to boost wireless Internet up to 10 Mbps and connected Internet services to 1 Gbps. This also provides a better HDTV image. In the Netherlands the fastest regular Internet connection you can subscribe to is 120 Mbps and HDTV is just beginning to get adopted.