Video Game Violence Essay, Research Paper
Video Game Violence
There are many different views about video games and the effects violence has on children and society as a whole. Many feel that games are harmful and have no purpose but to serve as an unintelligent and wasteful medium of entertainment. Others feel that games have plenty to offer and
will one day be as respected a medium as television, radio or books. Input from both sides of the issue was gathered and a conclusion was drawn based on various studies and opinions. Throughout The course of this report, the issue of violence in video games and the overall worth of games in general will be addressed.
There are a lot of negative views concerning video games, particularly of the violent variety. Critics say that violent games are a pretty poison for society, fancy blood and fireworks with no redeeming value. They say that video games take innocent young children and taint them with images of fiery destruction. Many of these critics also see that most of the games on the market are violent and bash the industry for it.
Video games are one of the most engaging form of media on the market, there’s no denying that. But does the immersiveness of games make them more apt to blur the line between fantasy and reality? Some people say so. At the very least, it is desensitizing, so there can’t really be anything
good about it. And yet, marathon sessions of Quake have not made the author of this essay into a raging mass murderer, or even any less squeamish at the sight of real violence. Perhaps one may become desensitized to artificial violence, but at the same time not to real world violence.
Just how do games effect impressionable young children? Do they effect them at all? No studies seem to be decisive on this issue, but it would seem that upbringing plays a major role in how a video game effects a child’s life. Other important factors are the kind of game that is being played, and how “wholesome” the motives and rewards for killing are.
How a parent raises a child really determines everything about a child’s young life, and much of what that child will grow to become. If the child can’t determine fantasy from reality because they haven’t been taught the difference, it doesn’t matter whether there is a single video game on the face
of the Earth. It is inevitable that some form of media will eventually have the same sort of effect on them that video games would. Rich Fleider of Rogue Entertainment puts it this way: “Video games are only an extension of human’s innate desire to play. Without video games, that desire would only
express itself in a different fashion in another medium.” There is no excuse and no remedy for poor parenting and it is wrong to use games or movies or anything else as a scapegoat. Mark Dochtermann of Ritual Entertainment believes that “..the only thing that can corrupt a young mind is an unhealthy environment in which to grow. Parents who blame their problematic children on Dungeon and Dragons and video games are just beating down the wrong door.”
Paul Jaquays, a level designer for gaming industry superpower id Software had this to say about the types of video game violence: “Although I’m certain I’m doing my share of rationalizing here, I tend to categorize it into two distinct classes: A) Violence against the enemy: War in the name
of self defense, necessary actions against violent criminals. B) Violence against the innocent: Acts of violence against non-aggressors, bystanders, children, or those committed as a part of a game which glorifies crime, etc. The former, in game terms, is acceptable to me. The latter is not. Some recent games such as Carmageddon, Postal, and Grand Theft Auto fall into the latter.” Most people find the irreverent treatment to innocent people in these games quite offensive, and for good reason. If any kind of video game violence is harmful “Type B” violence is definitely that kind of video game
What is the worth of video games? “I just don’t understand the point of those games,” many say. Well, that’s a valid comment from someone who has never played a game. Anyone who had played a game for any decent amount of time would understand their appeal. They provide hours of
entertainment, improve hand-eye coordination, act as a form of communication and help people learn helpful skills. On top of that, many people believe that games provide a positive way to purge anger and frustration.
The entertainment value of some video games is tremendous. Just ask anyone who has played Threewave Capture the Flag for Quake, or spent sleepless nights feeding their chronic addiction to Civilization. Raven Software’s Jon Zuk had this to say about video games as entertainment: “Some games are time-wasting entertainment, and that’s not a bad thing. The people who complain loudest about games should probably sit down and play one. They might (GASP!) actually enjoy it,”.
Games are a good way for kids to develop good hand-eye coordination and good timing. Without killer reflexes and good aim, one will find some difficulty trying to conquer any action game. Killer reflexes and good aim not only serve to make you better at video games but can help in sports
and the military.
Video games are a good way for people to communicate and make friends. In the words of Dave Taylor, owner of Crack dot Com, “You can make friends. Ever played a net game and then told stories about how you managed to sneak the commando in unseen and blow up their power plant in C&C? Or retold the beautiful long-range kill you made with a rocket from high atop a ledge in Quake? You can also make friends by going out and drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and partying all night, which can lead to liver disease, lung cancer and depression. As stupid and worthless as some people make games sound, I think games are a more intellectual alternative than the standard way to make friends.”
Games can also provide a lot of valuable skills that are transferrable to every day life. With the exclusion of learning how to circle strafe and rocket jump, games can teach you a variety of useful tidbits. Dave Taylor has this to say about the kind of things you can pick up by playing games:
“Adventure games can teach problem solving skills, useful for learning how to research and how to “get things done”. Strategy games can teach the value of resource management a skill valuable in all sorts of leadership positions. Action games can improve your reflexes, a skill valuable to the military and to athletics.”
Games are a method of eliminating stress and anger in a productive and harmless way. Video games may actually be part of the solution rather than the problem. Richard P. Gray a.k.a Levelord says “… I don’t take any grand pride in enjoying the misfortune of others, even if “they” are “evil”, but I can not deny this passion is there and I think ignoring it may even be worse than riding it down abstract, non-damaging avenues.”
There are many different types of games, and not all of them are violent in the slightest. Why then, do violent games make up the majority of games on store shelves? The reason is not necessarily that game companies are trying to capitalize on violence (Although sometimes that is the case), but that they are limited by design to create violent games. In the words of master game designer Warren Spector, “We’re doing the best we can with the tools available to us in an infant medium. The fact is, it’s insanely hard to mimic human behavior on a computer. Heck, it’s almost impossible to make a character walk in a convincing manner. It’s really hard to create a world
simulation deep enough to allow players much freedom to choose how they’re going to react to a situation – it’s pretty much limited to kill that thing over there, or talk to it (And even talking is way hard…). On the other hand, it’s really easy to put a monster on the screen, tell it to dodge around a bit and let the player kill it…” “… I guarantee you will see games where the layer can do more than kill things – we’re getting closer every day.”
In conclusion, the research done in this project suggests that games are slightly more (To paraphrase the old Transformers cartoon) than what meets the eye. Like Shakespeare was persecuted for his works and like movies and television took their share of heat, video games are simply the newest thing to have all of society’s ills piled on top of them. In the future, things will change.