INTERPLAY 2017 – KDU Sheds Light On The Phenomenon And Social Impact Of Video Games

 
Mr. Tan Chin Ike, Chairperson of MYGAMEDEV, sharing the reasons for organizing the Interplay 2017 to address issues facing parents raising children in today’s interconnected world. Panellist (from left) Shern Chong, Hany Cheng, Angelia Ong and Dr. Tan Wee Hoe, discussing how games can be beneficial to a child’s development.
  
Panellists (from left) Johann Lim, Adrian Wong, Adam Goh and Vincent Xu, speaking to educational game developers who create content to encourage learning in students.  
KDU University College’s renowned Game Development Department, or simply known as ‘Glenmarie Games’, started the year with an interesting twist. KDU University College, with the support of MyGameDev, an Entry Point Project (EPP14) under the Education National Key Economic Area (NKEA), organised Malaysia’s first Game Symposium that hopes to bridge that gap by identifying and attempting to shed light on the phenomenon that is game addiction. The symposium, also endorsed by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) was a one-day event separated into segments where parents, teachers, academicians, counsellors and students can obtain information and gain awareness on the positives and negatives of playing games to arm parents better in facing the challenges of raising children in the digital era.

Video games are nothing new and neither are the notions of video game addiction. However, due to technological advancements that has made video games highly immersive, video games have now evolved from a simple single player games to the massively multiplayer experiences complete with vast digital landscapes and eye-popping visual aesthetics. This has made video game addiction even more prevalent and widespread. Video games are deliberately designed, with the help of psychology consultants, to make players want to keep playing, and they are available on every platform and devices from gaming consoles to computers to smartphones. However, many scientists and psychologists find that video games can actually have many benefits. Game-based Learning and Serious games are one aspect of this.

According to Mr. Tan Chin Ike, Chairman of MyGameDev and Head of the School of Computing and Creative Media, KDU University College, “We recognise that there are negative outcomes as a result of game addiction but we also want to create awareness that playing games in itself is in fact a force for positive changes in a child’s development.”

Mr. Yee I-Van, a Game Artist and also Consultancy and Commercialisation Programme Leader, explained, “How would you categorise Games? Entertainment? Learning tools? Art forms? However you choose to define games, today’s digitally connected youth can be overwhelmed by the changes it brings socially and culturally.” Yee was also the first speaker of the day and he shared about controversial games but also games that have evolved into an art-form.

Amongst the speakers were Rinie bin Ramli, a 3-time Asian E-Sports Champion who is ranked 4th in the world in the FIFA series and has won more than RM100,000 in prizes. He is currently championing pro-gaming across Malaysia and hopes to clear some of the misconceptions surrounding e-sports and to show that responsible gaming can lead to healthy outcomes.

Another notable speaker was Keith Woo, a digital psychologist. Keith is regularly engaged by various education and government bodies to speak on user well-being, psychological effects of addiction, youth development and digital safety. He shared about his own journey and struggle with game addiction and gave many insights. He states that video games itself is just a medium or a tool and the real crux of the matter lies with the individual and their mental, social or emotional state.

There were also two moderated panel discussions during the symposium – the first, focused on the subject of educational games, sometimes called “serious games” or even “edutainment”, particularly on the challenges involved in both the game development aspect and in the education aspect. The second panel titled 'How can videogames support a child's growth?' focused more on the psychological and learning aspects of video games. The panelist discussed about the effects of general play on the human brain, particularly in the young as play has been commonly known to simulate activities for a person to understand important principles of social and individual capacity.

The last speaker of the day was Hilmy Rahim, one of the pioneers in the academic sphere of game design. He shared about the present mindset regarding game addiction. He touched on the issue of stigmatisation attached to claims of "game addiction" and how the stigma of 'liking it too much' is a normal occurrence for any new medium that appears in history. He also shared about how to balance the negative opinions of excessive gaming with positive opinions, using anecdotes from real gamers who have done well in life; such as Az Samad, a musician who attributes his youthful game playing to defining his musical style leading him to play in video game concerts at the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The games phenomenon will only continue to boom, and Mr. Tan concluded,” I believe that as Game Developers and Educators, we have a sense of responsibility to have answers for this – the so called dark-side/light-side of video games from a cultural, sociological, psychological and educational standpoint. It is with this very reason why we have created this symposium – as an avenue for debate, discourse and discussion.”