How gaming and engineering have a reciprocal relationship
In recent years, many people have become concerned that video and computer games may have a detrimental effect on those playing them, and for some, these concerns are borne out. It is also true that the world of gaming has had a positive effect on society, improving lifestyles and increasing security.
Looking past the stereotype
The common image of a video game player is a nerdy young male sitting at his computer, capable only of having virtual relationships. This may have been true in the 80s, but today’s gamers are just as likely to be engaging young females as lone males. One stereotypical aspect that does ring true is the intelligence factor of game players. Highly computer literate, game players are often highly intelligent and inventive. In recent years, their intelligence and inventiveness have been put to some surprising uses.
For example, gaming often involves the use of a joystick, the same type of joystick that is found in military aircraft. The control centres of military aircraft, and many other types of aircraft, are computer-controlled and function in a way that is similar to flight simulation games. Computer programmers of these types of games can turn their talents to programming aviation software and hardware development. In fact, businessmen previously involved in the software industry are becoming chairmen of defence companies, as detailed on Sir Nigel Rudd’s Meggitt blog. Gaming technology has not only been implemented in piloted aircraft, but also in remote defence hardware, such as attack and surveillance drones.
Computer game programmers are often at the forefront of innovation. Just consider how primitive the early video games of the eighties seem to us now in contrast with the stunning visuals and graphics rendered in today’s video games. It is computer programming knowledge of this kind that has led to the creation of one of the most remarkable products in recent years – 3D printing. 3D printing is literally printing out an object in three dimensions using a layering technique of whatever material is desired. 3D printing has been used to produce metal and plastic medical implants, bespoke, perfectly fitting football boots, parts for racing cars and mobile phones. There are even plans to use a 3D printer to produce the wing of an aeroplane. All of this is possible with the kind of programming knowledge that video game developers possess.
The overlap between the gaming world and the engineering sector is quite considerable. It is not only the engineering sector that is benefiting from former video game developers who decide to become engineers. Engineers are also changing their jobs to become video game programmers. For some, it is a chance to turn their gaming hobby to practical use, and make significant amounts of money from it too, for the gaming world is a huge and profitable industry.
Progress often arises out of the strangest of places, and improvements in our daily lives have been influenced as much by gaming as medical research. The video game nerd of yesteryear has become today’s hugely successful public sector software developer.