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E-games: come in spinner

By Malcolm King - posted Wednesday, 14 March 2012

With so much content churn in the media these days, it’s hard to know what is real and what is spin. Most of our modern ideas about the uses of the intellect were formed by the printed word, as were our ideas about education, knowledge, truth and information.

As typography moves to the periphery of our culture and visual entertainment takes its place at the center, the seriousness, clarity and, above all, value of public discourse dangerously declines.

As a former ‘spin doctor’ my meter is highly attuned to spin and waffle and there is no greater purveyors of dodgy facts and post facto reconstructions than the Australian electronic games industry.


Recently the Sydney Morning Herald carried a particularly fine example of Australian games industry bull dust which appeared under Catherine Armitage’s byline called ‘All work and no play thing of the past.’

Armitage is an excellent journalist and as this was a news review, she merely reported what she was told.

The article’s first sentence does not bode well. ‘Being at work is often like being in a computer game. You need to keep away from the beasts and monsters and build up your protective resources.’ What? Does it really?

The article draws parallels and metaphors between the corporate environment and the type of scenarios found in games such as Minecraft and Assassins Creed.

These games are fantasy projections which appeal to young men - predominantly in their late teens and 20s - who, instead of exercising their charm and magnetic sexuality on the opposite sex, have turned it inwards to battle monsters emerging from their repressed libidos.

The article cites a number of major Australian organisations that are using electronic games to praise their employees. I checked this out. There are no such programs. Indeed Telstra closed down its Second Life site because it could find no commercial application for the program.


If you want to praise your staff ignore the mindless tokenism of sending smiley faces for a job well done - give them a raise, allow them flexible work times or pay for them to study.

The article’s confusion turns around a simple point: simulations are not electronic games. Simulations help in training pilots, surgeons and train drivers. In medicine high definition 3D imaging is most useful for practicing delicate and difficult operations.

But note that while there is overlap in the technology, simulations and program scripted electronic games are two entirely different concepts.

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About the Author

Malcolm King is a journalist and professional writer. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide. He runs a writing business called Republic.

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