Hello fellow gamers,

Video games and gaming in general are a big part of today’s culture, and this impact is growing rapidly.  As gamers, we come from all walks of society. The perception of layabout gamers is ancient history. We are doctors, teachers, students, parents, Fortune 500 CEOs, and even political figures.  We cover every demographic, and although we may not agree on every single issue, but we all share one thing in common: gaming.

One of the aspects I enjoy most when conversing with any person is learning about their outlook on games and gaming.  We may not play the same titles or own the same systems, but we can nevertheless understand one another, because we speak the language. Occasionally, we may even be lucky enough to share a little “smack talk” during some fun gameplay.

Recently, I reached out to Mark Ferrandino, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, to ask for his perspective on gaming.  He graciously took time out of his schedule to answer my questions.  I hope that you all enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed participating in it.

Mykiel:  How often did you play video games growing up, do you still play any games, and what are some of your best game related memories?

Speaker Ferrandino:  My favorite game is Zelda, and I still get a chance to play it now and then. But my work has taken over my life, and 99 percent of the time I’m on my phone I’m texting or tweeting or checking email. And whatever free time I had vanished a few months ago, when I became a dad. So I rarely play video games these days.

Mykiel:  Do you prefer Console, PC, or app based gameplay?

Speaker Ferrandino:  I’m constantly on my phone, so app-based games are the most convenient for me. But I would love to be able to play my WiiU more often.

Mykiel:  What contributions do you feel that video games, developers, and gamers have made to society?

Speaker Ferrandino:  There’s no doubt that video games have pushed the envelope on programming, and gaming is good for critical thinking skills.

Mykiel:  What are your thoughts on regulations (restriction of content, restriction of sale) implemented for video games that contain mature subject matter and graphic violence?  Some believe that adding restrictions is borderline censorship in some cases, in others it goes against the artistic creativity of the developers by not allowing them to tell the full story of their game.  Others feel that glorified violence and content of a mature sexual nature are key factors in tragic real world violence.

Speaker Ferrandino:  Adults should be able to watch what they please, but the thought of impressionable kids getting deeply involved in playing hunter-killer video games concerns me. The gaming industry has already adopted a system like the film industry’s ratings system, but the trick is assuring widespread compliance. Is it appropriate to take additional measures? I don’t know. That’s why I support President Obama’s recent executive order for a federal study of how video games are impacting our society. We need real data to make informed decisions.

Mykiel:  Where do you see a line being made on the balance of violence portrayed in video games and the highlighting of that violence when youths engage in violent activities that shock the nation?  Many would argue that one cannot just single out video games.  If one were to single out video games for the violence and mature subject matter, then why not music, movies, television?

Speaker Ferrandino:  Whether it’s video games, music, movies or television, cultural influences play a powerful role in determining what kind of person we are.

Mykiel:  Video games cover such a wide demographic from a 13 year old kid to a 60 year old man, the stay at home mother/father to the Fortune 500 CEO.  Why do you think you think that video games have such a wide spread socially economic and demographic wise?

Speaker Ferrandino:   Video games are convenient, entertaining and relatively inexpensive.

Mykiel:  Do you feel that video games are a contributor to childhood obesity and lower physical activity capabilities among young adults?

Speaker Ferrandino:   I haven’t reviewed the research. But my hunch is that any sedentary behavior, if taken too far, is unhealthy. So my guess is that for obesity problems, video games are no better, and no worse, than TV. And active gaming systems like Wii help get kids active.

Mykiel:  Online bullying takes place in many forms whether it is due to someone’s, race, sexual orientation, gender.  What do you think is the best method moving forward to help combat all forms of bullying and discrimination, both online and in the real world?

Speaker Ferrandino:  Education, education, education. We hate or fear what we don’t understand. If people learn about diversity they won’t feel threatened by it.

Mykiel:  With the recent advances in gaming technology (Move, Kinect, WiiU) over the last couple of years, do you see a change in how video game activities can actually bring families together via game nights?

Speaker Ferrandino:   Over Christmas my family, from kids to grandparents, played the Wii. We had a blast.

Mykiel:  Gamers often get bad press even though we have events like Extra-Life that turns our passion for games and gaming in general into a way for us to make contributions that have a positive impact on lives.  Have you ever participated in events like Extra-Life, or are you willing to partake in these events?

Speaker Ferrandino:   I’ve never been a participant, but I applaud all forms of charitable contributions and good citizenship.

Mykiel:  I wanted to end the interview on a soft note.  Would you be interested or be willing to partake in a best 2 of 3 Just Dance 4 contest one night?  I’ll provide everything to include the location, all you would need to provide is some dance moves.

Speaker Ferrandino:   LOL, and thanks for the invitation. And I look forward to the competition!

I think I am about to get hustled in a dancing game.

With our dance competition on the horizon, I must begin my training, and get some motivational music to play in the background.  Once a date is selected, I will make sure to let everyone know.  It should be a fun time.

I’ll see you all in game,