I think itís a mistake to assume that just because gaming is more accessible to a larger population means that people, in general, have somehow lowered their standards for achievement. Iím not arguing this has not happened, because it has. We are becoming a participation award culture. There are signs of that in gaming, but thatís not ALL that is going on here.
Like everything else where a profit is to be made, the gaming industry is about supply and demand. Hard-core gamers are no longer the majority voice on the demand side. Demand now also comes from:
∑ Executives who find shooting zombies to be a stress-reliever at the end of a long week.
∑ Fathers who accept that their son may not be NFL-material, but who know that they can get an hour of their kidís attention with Madden 25.
∑ Mothers who have put away the Monopoly board and taken up Dance Dance Revolution so that she can still have family game night.
∑ People who donít have time to get to the gym but who can take 20 minutes each morning to do some yoga on their Fit board.
I could go on, but the point is that there are a great many people who now enjoy gaming NOT because the standards of play have been lowered, but because play now supports their values and meets their goals.
Just because their goals are not your goals does not make their goals less worthy.
In regards to what kids can learn from gaming, again itís a mistake to assume that kids ought to get out of the experience exactly what kids of the 80s and 90s did. They donít need to learn hand-eye coordination from video games; they get that in keyboarding class starting in 1st grade. They donít need to learn patience from repeating the exact same levels over and over; they get that from reminding the grandma from Wyoming to hug the wall and stop standing in the fire. As a plus, they also learn that thereís a super-cool grandma in Wyoming who likes the same things they like and who, even though sheís a disembodied voice in a headset, sheís a real person who might have something to teach them about real life while theyíre waiting for the rest of the raid party to show up.
Finally, consider my 9-year-old son. He has many interests and likes a lot of different games, but heís primarily a Minecraft enthusiast. He loved Minecraft before it was cool to love Minecraft. Because of that love, he can find his way around a .jar file way better than me, and I have a degree in computer science. Heís currently learning video production because he was introduced to it through the Minecraft community. On his own, through gaming, he discovered something technical that he wanted to teach himself, and heís following through. So yeah, Iím not concerned over much about his hand-eye coordination, logic, and patience.
Gaming has evolved. I suppose you could argue that it has devolved, and maybe it has in some ways. But Iím a glass half full kind of gal, so I have to disagree. It isnít what it was when I was a kid, but anyone who says it ought to be, should dig a little deeper.