Opinion

Achieving a better future through video-games

Achieving a better future through video-games

Like the real world, in the video-game world you are often faced with a series of problems and obstacles.  The difference is that in the video-game world, gamers often overcome these problems in search for a better future.

In the real world, when faced with a problem that we fail to overcome, we often just give up. In the video game world you never give up: from shaking the joystick violently every time you fail, to cursing at your monitor – eventually you are able to find a way to overcome the obstacle.

Egypt needs more gamers. It is from gaming that many have been able to develop the ability of ‘critical thinking’ in regards to how to approach a problem. It is a shame that many employers and the general media fail to see this, and instead disregard gaming as ‘a waste of time’.

However, overcoming problems and becoming a better ‘person’ in the game world is largely centered on cooperation with others.  In Gearbox Software’s latest game, Borderlands 2, the player has to save Pandora (a fictional world) from the evil dictator, Handsome Jack. The game, which can be played with up to 3-other players, encourages team-work and strategy in order to overcome the various challenges that the player faces: from defeating alien-like creatures with tentacles that spread a mile away, to gathering resources and information. Without this team-work, progressing through Borderlands 2 becomes very difficult.

Handsome Jack

Now let us imagine that Pandora is Egypt. Through youth-organized protests, cooperation, and critical strategy, Egyptians were able to force Hosni Mubarak, commonly seen as a dictator/autocrat, to step down after 30-years of rule. Without this organized effort, the revolution would have most likely failed.

A great example of unity. Egyptians protecting the national museum from looters.

However, what Borderlands 2 does not cover is what comes after removing the villain, Handsome Jack: rebuilding the country and achieving a better future. Like the game, the ‘revolutionaries’ in Egypt have simply disappeared since the ouster of Mubarak. It is as if they thought the removal of Mubarak, and no further action, means they have won.

This brings me to the extremely popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft. In this game, players work collectively, to some extent, to improve their online-world through a series of quests. In 2005 an epidemic broke out in this online world, and hundreds of thousands of players became infected with ‘corrupted blood’. Some people, considered as ‘terrorists’, intentionally spread the disease, while others worked together in order to cure the infected and find a way to stop it from spreading any further. Eventually they succeeded, and the epidemic was gone (also thanks to a bit of help from the producers).

Unity: Christians protecting praying Muslims in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution

What this shows is the power of collective team-work and unity. Egypt is in dire need of this to improve. Unity is the underlying pillar of a stable, secure, and prosperous country. When I read about tensions between Muslims and Christians, Liberals and Christians, the poor and the rich, I can’t but wonder whether Egypt will ever improve without unity.

Again, Egypt needs more gamers. Why? To realize the power of unity and that team-work allows for the defeat of obstacles along the path for a better Egypt. Simply electing a new president through democratic means does not guarantee development. Maybe by having more Egyptians play games, they will realize that they need to work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.

“In union there is strength” – Aesop

 

This is part one of a two part blog post. The second part will tackle the gaming-culture of Egyptians. Check back again soon!

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