Powering Up: Are Computer Games Changing Our Lives by Rebecca Mileham (book review).

February 27, 2014 | By | Reply More

If after you turn your computer on, the first thing you do is play a game of FreeCell or Spider Solitaire like I do, don’t think you’re wasting your time or as I frequently think, giving the computer a chance to get all its sub-routines settled. As author Rebecca Mileham points out in her book ‘Powering Up’, people find that it is actually a warming up exercise to getting your brain into gear and more productive by doing so. It doesn’t apply with all games, Tetris isn’t a good choice but anything with a three-dimensional aspect is good for the multi-tasker and even good for your eyesight, improving it by 20% so that would include other computer games that you might own. One thing I would like to add to that is that having different perspectives within a computer game ensures your eyes have to focus at different levels through the game.

PoweringUp

With more people playing computer games these days, Mileham explains that the brain is learning to be more flexible and quicker. Contrary to what people say, kids playing computer games aren’t reaching for food to eat and those who use Wii or ones that make you physically active, as demonstrated with a dance one, are favoured by them.

Considering computer games are used to train pilots and the military should already be an indication that these people treat their use as a means to improve their skills. I was having a discussion with one of my reviewers recently about a job he applied for that he would have been better at for multi-functionability had he been a computer game player. If you are, then ensure it’s on your CV as one of your leisure activities as it might serve you well. In fact, Mileham points at various gaming aspects that are worth noting separately if you play certain types of games because they illustrate certain management skills.

I loved the point that the reason men choose to play as female characters because they would rather see a pretty avatar on the screen than a man. Mind you, with first person games, all you see are a couple hands does kinda defeats that object.

The addiction to games is similar to other kinds of addictions, there will always be some who will take it to extremes than just the odd half hour here and there. I totted up roughly how much I played computer games over a week and it’s something like a little less than twelve hours. I’ve been playing ‘Unreal Tournament’ on-line for the past couple years now and tend to stay on a little longer than usual occasionally only to ensure the side I’m on wins a round. My own analysis of this is supposed team camaraderie, although none of us appear to use the talk button to plan strategy. Oddly, the one I keep going back to has the same names and they don’t seem to stop playing for long periods and don’t learn to improve their game play neither. No, I don’t think they’re automated because some of them aren’t always there. If there’s anything changed in my own behaviour is me wincing a little more at violence on the TV screen. Maybe, I’m at the other end of the scale where this is concerned and its making me more sensitive.

For children, Mileham points out several games that are popular at schools that you might want to try out on your sprogs of all ages if they haven’t tried them already. An odd statistic is that there are less people playing computer games than those who read or watch television. I’m not surprised at that because taking the world as a whole, not everyone owns a computer.

This book is fully illustrated and although I found the enlarged phrases from the text a bit of a nuisance at times, I suspect that is the type of information that some readers will absorb better that way. I think those people who regard computer games as a waste of time are going to find that the examples given here are going to show that they are not. Anything done in small doses is not going to cause too much harm. Although I doubt Mileham could show more examples without seriously dating the book, I did think it might have been handy to cite more types of examples to remind all readers that there are more than shoot ‘em outs out there. If you are a computer games player already, then this book will reaffirm that you are getting something out of this book that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

GF Willmetts

February 2014

(pub: Wiley. 321 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-470-72310-4)

check out websites: www.wiley.com and www.rebecca.mileham.net

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Category: Books, Games, Science

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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