Friday, July 22, 2011

Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound

glued to games

As I mentioned in a post on Thursday, my boys love video games.   They have several different gaming platforms, and would love to have more.  They could play all day long... except for the fact that they have a mean mother.  I am very strict about game ratings, and I have to limit the amount of time they spend playing.  I see changes in their personalities if they play too long, so I take them away when the timer rings.  This makes me unpopular sometimes, but  I can live with that.

The video game phenomena does fascinate me, and I like to read about it - so when I was given the chance to review Glued to Games:  How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound, I was very interested.

This 186 page volume written by Scott Rigby, PhD, and Richard Ryan, PhD, was published in February.   It does a great job examining the reasons people love to play the games and if indeed the games are truly addicting.

What I liked best about this book is that it is very balanced.  Most books on the subject are either very pro gaming, or very negative.  Glued to Games recognizes that video games have some redeeming qualities, and that they address some of our basic needs.  They continue on to highlight some of the less desirable subjects, never shying away from the problems with gaming.  The violence and the addictive pull are not glossed over.

The book is divided into nine chapters.  It flows very nicely from a discussion of what benefits people can derive from game play into the chapters about the possible negatives.  The final chapter provides some suggestions for navigating the gaming world.    There are reassurances to parents, as well as the reminder of what many may find obvious - Ultimately, the parents are responsible for monitoring what their children play, and how immersed their children get into game play.

The chapters are as follows:
  1. The Emotional Experience of Games Today
  2. Games and the Need for Competence
  3. Games and the Need for Autonomy
  4. Games and the Need for Relatedness
  5. Immersion and Presence
  6. Dangerous Waters:  The Addictive Undertow of Games
  7. The Appeal and Perils of Aggression in Video Games
  8. Gaming Beyond Entertainment
  9. Relating to Games: A Practical Roadmap

There is also an introduction, and index and some pages about the authors.  I felt this book was written so that both gamers and their friends or parents who worry about them can read it and benefit from the information.  It validates both sides of the argument, while reminding the readers of the importance of moderation and supervision.  It certainly could provide a great opening for discussions within families.

About the Authors:

SCOTT RIGBY, PhD, is founder and president of Immersyve, Inc. (http://www and a veteran of both the ivory tower and interactive media development. After earning his doctorate in clinical psychology with a research emphasis on motivation, Rigby spent eight years building Internet games and interactive content for Sony, Time Warner, and Viacom, as well as online games based on major feature films such as AI: Artificial Intelligence, Red Planet, and Frequencybefore founding Immersyve in 2003. He was the host of several television shows in the New York region, including Your Internet Show and Metro Channel's Plugged in with Scott Rigby. His interactive work can also be seen as part of the “Explore the Universe” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  In addition, Rigby is the principal investigator on several grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health looking at innovative ways to enhance learning and deepen motivation for healthy lifestyle change through virtual environments. He has served on the faculty of the Game Developers Conference, the New York New Media Association, and has been a contributing feature author on Gamasutra. His work on measuring the player experience has been featured by Wired, Gamepro, and Electronic Gaming Monthly, as well as by ABC News and Scientific American.

RICHARD M. RYAN, PhD, is professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester and the director of the Clinical Psychology Training Program. He is a widely published researcher and theorist in the areas of human motivation, development, and psychological well-being, having published more than 250 articles and chapters and two books. He is the codeveloper (with Edward L. Deci) of Self-Determination Theory, an internationally researched theory of human motivation that has been applied in hundreds of studies within areas such as education, work, relationships, medicine, psychotherapy, and cross-cultural psychology. Ryan is also an award-winning educator and researcher and has given addresses at more than 60 universities around the world. In addition to his work on virtual environments with Immersyve and his basic research on the psychology of interactive media, his recent interests include the effects of materialism and other life goals on well-being and health; mindfulness and self-regulation; sources of vitality and life satisfaction; and cross-cultural studies of motivation and values.  Ryan is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association and an honorary member of the German Psychological Society (DGP). He has been a visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, a James McKeen Cattell Fellow, and a recipient of numerous national and international grants and awards.

*In order to provide an informed, blogged review, I given access to its contents via the internet.  I was not paid to write this post and my opinions are genuine