Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Violence in Video Games

... gets out the soapbox... I've been chatting with a colleague here in the faculty about video game violence, and he asked me for my two cents on the topic and (with some revision to cut out identifiers and stuff that is already posted frequently here) I'll post them here. My take on the issue of video game violence is that it's more a creation of the ever conservative media and ruling/political institutions that need to have an "other" to pin the evils in society to. Previous to video games (at this point I'm thinking about the one part in the show - CTV Special on Violence and Video Games - where the kid is talking about the first shooter that he played as being "Duck Hunt" - certainly not violent) there were comic books that were said to be the evil of society and were forced into a rating system (Comics Code) and before that there were movies and radio. These "great vehicles of sin" were only recently stamped to be controlled with ratings but were also blamed for everything from bad breath to sociopathic behaviours. Even the beloved printed text was the spreader of evil in the form of the Guttenberg Bible. So to me it's really more of the same scape goating at one level, on another level however, it does point to a few things. First it points to the breakdown of family. If there is a child who is acting out and has been playing games and reading books and listening to music (check out what Marylin Manson has to say on the subject in Bowling for Columbine) and is depressed or agitated to the point where s/he is not longer rational and they go and shoot someone - who is to blame? The easy ones are the media that they are "poisoned" with. But they should take a look at parents, teachers and the community to see what is going on. Second I think it points to some level of ethnocentrism to think that gaming teaches violence - in the video the one investigator says that the child moved as if they were in a video game - well that is true, the child is modelling what they have seen - if the child had seen positive ways to deal with angst and stress, they would model that as well wouldn't they? Looking at other societies with violent media (Europe, Far East), it does not seem that there are the same issues there. Korea is the hotbed of gaming and I don't see many stories of violence there - certainly of addiction, but violence? Granted, the pair of violence and addiction are often seen together, but does one lead to the other. I would say that I'm addicted to the Discovery Channel and Hockey, but am I a violent person? I love the martial arts and trained for many years and I didn't become more violent, infact I became less so (there are many who argue that games are an effective escape or out for people). For a comical look at the situation, The Onion is always at hand. ... stashes soapbox... Technorati Tags: ,