Video games have made messy scenes in news and media. However, for every negative story there are dozens of positive stories that are never be reported. The media tends to focus on the negative and sensationalist alleged impact of gaming. Obviously, we all know the real truth not shown on Fox News: games can inspire violence in certain individuals just as it can create happiness and tranquility.
I remember the days when music was blamed for all the evils in the world. We live in an age where a person can blame their troubles on a video game because video games have reached mainstream attention. Like the media, many among us are quick to lay blame on external influences in our society rather than looking at ourselves as the source for our own trouble.
A circus of media and Internet publications will swarm down on the video game industry if a single deranged individual points their violent tendencies on a recently played game. If a person feels the urge to hurt another individual, chances are they’ve already made that decision far before they’ve played the next Grand Theft Auto. We don’t live in a perfect society and we can’t stop our TV, Music and Movies from displaying acts of extreme violence. Many people feel the need to blame something or someone for their own negative actions.
GamesRadar: Carmack: Violent video games are “potentially positive”.
I asked Podcast 17 hosts to point out positive influences in video games and weighted those against known negative influences. These are their responses:
I’m a strong believer that video games enforce some form of teamplay. Cooperative games and even team multiplayer games bring people together and strengthen coordination skills and communication skills.
Global exposure is another great positive brought about by video games. Personally, if it wasn’t for video games or communities created by video games I would never have met wonderful people from around the world.
Lastly, video games relieve stress; not create it. The greatest feeling is coming home from a hard days work, opening a can of coke and playing video games; either alone or with others. Concentrating on things that keep your brain active while providing an entertainment factor is a great positive.
Well, let’s see. The positive influence that comes to mind is community and friendship. Through gaming I have met people I would never have met in everyday life. I regularly converse with people in their 60s and people in their 20s and we have a common interest. We share our enjoyment through an activity. Barriers are not an issue in this context; race, religion, social position, education level, professional standing etc are all irrelevant. This should be the norm in society but it’s not.
The next positive aspect of gaming is education. Any good educator knows that to get their students to learn they need to engage them. Not only that but learning should be fun and if you can teach through games you have begun to tap the vast potential of this medium. I suspect teenagers have learnt more about the horrors of war through historically accurate video games than through any textbook.
Of course, they can learn more than just facts, but moral and ethical issues too. Remember, video games can tell stories and through those stories people learn.
The last one I will mention is grey gaming but it extends to other types of people too. Grey gaming is the idea of the older generation playing games. For some, this allows them to keep their mind active. Games can range from simple puzzle games to immersive role playing games. Not only their mind can be kept active but also their body. Nintendo Wii was the first, but there are now others, that require players to physically recreate the motions seen on the screen.
Playing tennis suddenly became a possible for people who couldn’t before.
One word, expression. Granted this is not as evident in mainstream gaming, however video games and making video games is in my opinion the best possible form of expression. Where else can you experience the sensation of being blind or exploring untouched lands. How many other forms of media allow you to not only be within a story but direct the flow or outcomes of the world and the virtual people who live within?
Games are not just about running down a hallway and shooting everything that moves, some can be sprawling tales and others are just the authors synapse coming to the surface intentional or not.
If you want my honest opinion on the naysayers or the finger pointers is that they have yet to experience anything other then just the violence of a Call of Duty, or the time sink of a World of Warcraft. When asked I point these people to something like Lundum Dare and say look at what gaming and game developing really is, you bloody nitwit.
I went on to ask the same people, “If the games can yield positive results why can’t games have a negative impact such as violent tendencies?”
I have no doubt that some video games do invoke some sort of mental change in an individual. Personally, I know I am more desensitized than others around me and I don’t see that as much of an issue. The argument that positive things can have negative impacts as well can be made about anything — it’s unfair to just pin it to video games.
Awareness is important, being aware that a video game is just a video game is important and since most people get into gaming at a young age having some “parental guidance” (read: not restriction) is important as well.
Perhaps it does. Who is to say that some people haven’t released their inherent violent tendencies through gaming instead of making them become a reality. Heck, most of us have screamed out in anger at some person or situation in our lives. gaming is just an extension of that release valve.
Without gaming, maybe more people would have lashed at instead of going home and playing games. Society needs a valve too and playing all sorts of games, not just video games, is one of those releases.
They can. No one said they cannot. Games can be about every possible scenario and nothing will stop developers from creating these titles. However just creating a game about lets say in this example, rape, yet not dealing with the topic other then just creating a game where you can do just that is not making gaming anything more then a typical “B grade” thriller film.
Once a developer finds a way to do it in a tasteful or in a way that deals with the emotions of the act or the effects of the act then we can stand proud and say “this is how we are different from everyone else”. A great example of this is the flash game Edmund.
Does a video game truly make you violent or does it make a violent person more creative? If a young person is raised on violent games to teach them life lessons in place of correct parental guidance, who really is to blame?
Younger children are highly influenced by those around them and this includes video games. A responsible parental figure should recommend against children playing violent video games until they are old enough to understand the realities of violence. This is why ESRB rating board was invented. I enjoy video games (I’m working on a First Person Shooter) so don’t get me wrong when I label them as violent as they are.
That said, I also believe it is important to vocalize that games do cause happiness, tranquility and a distraction from everyday life when everyone points to games as the root of all evil. If a game can promote a positive feeling then the opposite can also be true. For every game that makes an individual feel happy there is a good chance a game exists which can make an individual become violent.
PC Gamer: Treyarch dev says “negative” gamers the biggest problem facing the games industry.
So, please do me a favor: When you’re playing a video game and you win or achieve a locked mission … go high-five someone. Hug a loved one. Help an old lady across the street. Sample some fine cheeses with your lover. Give a fiver to a tsunami relief charity. Buy a puppy. When someone stops you and ask “Why you are in a great mood?” tell them that video games make you do nice things.
Unfortunately, the media will never cover that story.
This guest article was written by Aaron “Bluewolf72″ Molloy of Steam Contests.