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Consciousness and Video Games

Page history last edited by blueshenlung 14 years, 1 month ago








How have video games and video game technology affected human consciousness? Does the medium evolve with and/or specifically influence the collective consciousness? This page is intended to offer space for exploring the past, present, and future of video game technologies and their relation to Consciousness.





In the Beginning


Many credit the first video game to William Higinbatham, who in 1958 presented a two person tennis game for the Brookhaven National Laboratory visitors day. A two-dimensional side view of a tennis court was displayed on an oscilloscope.



Fast forward to 1972 with the release of Pong developed by Atari.

Atari 8-bit technology


Hitting the Mainstream

New technologies offering color and sound.

Commodore 64

Atari 2600

Nintendo Entertainment System

Sega Genesis


Since capabilities were limited with 2D gameplay and lower pixilation, more was left to the player's imagination. The visual intent of the software relied heavily on the artwork provided with the product.



Arcades and the 1980's

A boom in the video game industry took place during the 1980's as more arcades opened and more advanced gaming systems went mainstream.


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The Stage


PC and Online Gaming


World of Warcraft

Second Life


Community based gaming creates new avenues for connection and collective consciousness. Players immerse themselves in fantasy/science fiction worlds creating avatars to explore the open world design. Lines between reality may tend to blur and humor crosses over through to other forms of media (see World of WifeCraft).



Current Game Consoles


PlayStation 2


Xbox 360 - Xbox LIVE is a service provided specifically for the Xbox 360 that allows users to connect to the internet and play games with others gamers around the world. Most games that support online play for the Xbox 360 also offer headset compatibility so players can communicate directly with others users online.

Nintendo Wii - A game system designed specifically for social gaming; the Wii is for everyone young and old! The Wii Remote allows for more realistic gameplay as players can use the motion sensitive peripheral to swing, point and shoot, and other real life actions to control the game.

PlayStation 3 - Relies more heavily on improved graphics and Blueray technology.


Online play offers gamers instant feedback loops through the use of microphones and headsets. The casual gamer emerges on a larger scale with the Nintendo Wii, opening up to a wider audience.


Handheld Game Systems

Nintendo Game Boy

Sega Game Gear

Nintendo Game Boy Advanced

Nintendo Dual Screen

Sony PSP


The mobility of the handheld technology allows gamers to extend their experience to the outside world. Handheld gamers see others such as themselves in public quarters. The Nintendo DS allows gamers to exchange software and avatars wirelessly.




Game Types

Sports - Mainly reserved for multiplayer gaming.

MMO - Massively Multiplayer Online games are capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. Generally adopted for PC gaming, MMO's may soon begin to venture into the larger realm of the masses as console and bandwidth technology improves (see MAG).

MMORPG - Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing games are a genre of computer role-playing games in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world.

RPG - Role-playing Games are games in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters and collaboratively create or follow stories.

RTS - Real-time Strategy games focus primarily on strategic action games that are not turn-based.

MAG - Sony recently coined a new term for a Massive Action Game that will be available for the PS3.

FPS - First Person Shooter is a subgenre of video game that involves a first person perspective where the player plays the game through the eyes of the character. Third person perspective is used for this type of gameplay as well. This game type gained popularity with the game DOOM.


The future of video game types will inevitably evolve due to the current state of game types that are based on community interaction. There will most likely be a demand for different types of interaction as the community discovers new ways to communicate and play with each other. Currently the main perspectives used for gaming are first and third person (view over the shoulder of the character). Will this also evolve with community based gaming? Several online games offer a 'Spectator' perspective where someone can just watch a match/game.




Accompanying Technology



Additional Peripherals


Rock'n Out!

Guitar Hero and Rock Band peripherals encourage more multiplayer gaming. Rock Band peripherals provide players a simulated band experience, from guitar to drums and vocals.



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Even the band Rush gets in on the Rock Band action when trying to preform "Tom Sawyer".


First Person Shooter Vest

This peripheral "lets you take your first-person shooter experience to the next level with eight active zones that simulate the direction and forces of bullet fire, crushing explosions, and finger taps as they occur in the game."



Treadmills Used to Play WoW

This experiment was designed to examine if it would be possible to apply video game physics (speed of running from one area of a map to another) in the real world. It is made clear that even at half the speed of the video game run cycle, the participants have difficulty. So even the capabilities of something as simple as running or walking is expanded in video games.

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Innovations and Alternative Technologies


Reading brain frequency and controlling video games with your mind, BrainController.



Head Tracking using the Nintendo Wii Remote

"Using an LED array and some reflective tape, you can use the infrared camera in the Wii remote to track objects, like your fingers, in 2D space. This lets you interact with your computer simply by waving your hands in the air similar to the interaction seen in the movie "Minority Report". The Wiimote can track upto 4 points simultaneously."

This technology creates an illusion that allows the eye to perceive the images on screen as 3D.



Controlling Balance with low-voltage shock to the inner ear. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp are working on a technology that can cause a person to move against their will.

An AP article "A Remote Control that Controls Humans" explains a little of the technology.

"It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head _ either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved."

There is some pain and dizziness associated with the use of this technology so it may never reach the market. When applied to video games, the device can simulate among other things the momentum one would feel when driving a real race car. This technology was demonstrated in Los Angeles at the Siggraph Conference in 2005.



Racing Games with GPS

Differential GPS (DGPS), takes real-time GPS data from racing events and sends it to compatible consoles and PCs.




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Playing video games in the car could now take on a whole new meaning. This application merges the real world environment outside of the car with a video game projection on screen.




The Puppeteer



The Matrix - Syncing Mind with Technology



Often refered to as "seeing the Matrix" or being "in the zone," players experience the syncing of the mind with video game technology. The player's mind can fall into a rhythm or trance with the game where they begin to intuitively see the game code and can anticipate the next move or attack by the computer or even another player. This state is equivalent to hitting the right controls/buttons at the right time without any forethought. This state often takes on a more proactive approach to the game than reactionary; though this could be due to the nature and design of most video games.


This video shows how the game software can also induce a state of trance while adhering to the interactive state of physical reaction/proaction. The movement of the fret towards the player on screen provides the illusion of a vortex in the center of the screen. The effect is similiar to many psychedelic visualizations.



Muscle Memory

It is important to note the influence of muscle memory on this state of syncing. Though it could be seen as it's own form of syncing and trance state through training the muscles to react specifically at specific times during gameplay, muscle memory is crucial to the syncing process when reading the matrix. At the most basic level, the player must be familiar with the controls and button combinations, but at the most extreme level the player's muscles fall into a specific sequence of button presses timed exactly with the environment and obstacles in the game. This effect seems to have spawned from the early days of arcade and NES play. More players in the early days of videogaming have experienced this effect with the first Super Mario Brothers game. Players could fly through the side scrolling levels by merely pressing the right buttons at the right time. On repeated play the player's muscles grow so accustom to the button sequence that they can react to the level without even thinking of what to do next.


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Could the combination of muscle memory and the video game framerate imply that "reading the matrix" is really the player reaching a state of brain frequency called the Mu Rhythm!? Direct action due to cells called mirror neurons. Could this also open the player up to the state of One Pointedness discussed in the Bhagavad Gita?


The Avatar

The avatar is a digital representation of the player.  The avatar usually exemplifies the player's inner persona as an outward projection.  The player is usually presented with several options to mix and match.  Most commonly the options are clothing, hair styles, eye wear, weapons, jewelry, and footwear.  Sometimes spirit or personality traits are options.


The avatar is generally created to represent the player either in-game or in the general gaming community.  When the avatar is used in-game, the avatar's attributes are influenced by the game environment.  When the avatar is used for the general gaming community, it becomes more of a meme, encouraging users to purchase clothing for the avatar for the purpose of social expression rather than adding directly to the gameplay experience.


The avatar that exists outside of the game world, like the player, becomes the character in the game via the transitive property.  A third world is also created where the player can move from reality to the game world more easily with relation to identity.  The avatar that exists in this third world, therefore exists in reality and the game world.


Companies are beginning to explore new ways to market to their audience and are discovering that the avatar can be a profitable approach.  Xbox 360 users can purchase shirts with logos or costumes for their avatar.  Microsoft's 1vs100 spin off for the 360 allowed users to play trivia with their avatars live in-game, displaying the avatar designs and outfits.  This cross over of the avatar into the game world has provided the opportunity for marketing to avatar's profitable and extremely viable.



Gaming Community and the Collective

Blogs, Forums, and Gaming Websites

Online journals and discussion webpages keep gamers aware of the latest games, trailers, cheat codes, troubleshooting, and walk-throughs. Online comics feature video game humor.


Noteworthy Online Articles, Reviews, Blog Posts....


Healthy criticism of games reveals a growing awareness of video games as an art form and the breakdown of the smaller gaming community into the general masses.


Weight Watchers is an RPG

Think about it. As with an RPG, you roll a virtual character, manage your inventory and resources, and try to achieve a goal. Weight Watchers' points function precisely like hit points; each bite of food does damage until you've used up your daily amount, so you sleep and start all over again. Play well and you level up -- by losing weight!



Psychologists give gaming the thumbs up

“Games are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but are powerful educational tools and have many effects we might not have expected they could,” summarised Gentile.


Wounded G.I.s' New Rehab: Wii Sports, Guitar Hero

There was major nerve damage in one hand; a shoulder was barely functional.

Now, a year and a half later, Bell has a great deal of his mobility back -- thanks, in part, to the Nintendo Wii.




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Game Culture**

Fashion and media is influenced by the video game community as gamers fall into the marketing target audience of the 20 - 35 age range. Fashion starting as early as 2007 fell into a 1980's revival.


Gaming Terminology

The gaming community developes specific terminology that crosses over into the general online community.


Wiki collection of video game tropes




FPS - First Person Shooter




MMO - Massive Multiplayer Online

MMORPG - Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game

RPG - Role-playing Game

RTS - Real Time Strategy

Sticks - video game controller

WoW - World of Warcraft





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