Blame the people, not the games
How many times have you heard people accuse video games of being the cause of violence? Increased aggression? Making teenagers anti-social? Chances are, the concept of video games being unhealthy has been burned into your memory. Well yes, of course they’re unhealthy if you stare at a television screen while perched on a chair for several hours. However, if you keep up a healthy balance, and view video games as no more than a pastime, then you’re not causing harm to anyone.
It’s now time for us to discuss this issue realistically. Scapegoating video games isn’t going to solve any major world issues. I’m not denying some video games aren’t brutal, but there’s not a single game that actually promotes violence in our world. As a matter of fact, games like Need for Speed send definite messages that ”what happens in the game, stays in the game.” The only way you could blame video games is if they intentionally gave the idea that hurting others was fine. Well guess what? They don’t.
Perhaps one of the most well-known anti video game activists is Jack Thompson, an attorney based in Coral Gables, Fla. He’s based his legal efforts on “obscenity” in modern culture, namely rap music, broadcasts by Howard Stern, and violence and sex in computer and video games. In 2005, he supported a campaign to discourage Take-Two’s subsidiary, Rockstar Games, from releasing a game titled, Bully. He stated that, “what you are in effect doing is rehearsing your physical revenge and violence against those whom you have been victimized by.”
In October 2006, Thompson sent a letter to Midway Games, demanding they don’t sell the latest game in the Mortal Kombat series. He claimed the game illegally profited on his likeness, because players could use the “Kreate a Fighter” option to make a character who looked like him.
Here’s the kicker. Thompson was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court in July 2008, for making false statements to tribunals and humiliating litigants. He also challenged the constitutionality of the Florida Bar in 1993 in one of his filings. The Supreme Court described them as “repetitive, frivolous and insulting to the integrity of the court.”
Is this a guy you’re going to pay attention to? I doubt it.
Dr. Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, found that playing video games increases reaction time, and can help make a person focus better. She noted that gamers are better at resolving small details in clutter, like on a prescription bottle. They’re also better at distinguishing different levels of grey, such as driving in fog.
A common misconception is that video games lead to attention problems and cause distractability That’s incorrect. Researchers measured attention by creating conflicts, like writing the word “yellow” in red. They found that people who play action games resolved the conflict faster than non-gamers.
Dr. Bavelier’s lab used imaging to pinpoint how action games alter the human brain. They noticed effects in three parts of the brain, the parietal lobe, which focuses attention on individual tasks, the frontal lobe, which helps us keep our attention focused on a particular task, and the anterior cingulate, which helps control what we pay attention to. All three networks of the brain were found to be more efficient in those who play video games (mainly action games).
If someone takes what they see in a video game and applies it to life, then that’s no one’s fault but their own. The one thing to remember is this: video games are called ”games” for a reason. They are meant to have fun, by yourself or with family and friends. They’re no different from playing golf, tennis, or reading a book and watching a movie. For those who are young, parents should be responsible enough to gage their child(ren)’s play time, and make sure they’re playing what’s appropriate for their age. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board placed warning labels on video games if they’re particularly violent.
People have to be smart and mature enough to know that games aren’t to be taken seriously. If they’re not, then it’s time to put down the controller. Because at the end of the day, the ball’s in their court, not in the game designer’s.
Posted on January 8, 2013, in Insider, Video Games and tagged coral gables, daphne bavelier, florida supreme court, gaming, howard stern, jack thompson, university of geneva, videogames. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.