Video games are a form of entertainment; they are pieces of visual and interactive literature, and a good piece of literature makes the participant feel involved, feel for the protagonist, feel hatred and hostility toward the antagonist and feel the need to change and create. So it makes no sense that video games, the type of entertainment that permits you to do and feel all that, receive a bad rap.
Some advocate for control of violence in video games. Some advocates seem to believe violent video games and other media will turn your teen in to a viciously inclined, peace-hating, war-obsessive, danger-to-my-baby, destructive, monstrous beast who shoots up school cafeterias and burns down houses.
Video games are a scapegoat, an easy target for parents and others to blame for teen violence. They already hate the games because they supposedly transform kids into lazy social outcasts, so why not invent another reason to get them banned.
First, according to the Los Angeles Times, the generation that was raised through the video game age has some of the lowest teen crime rates in decades. Second, although some gamers play solo, most games, especially first-person shooters, can be played co-op (multiplayer) or online with others (often using mikes to speak to one anther). Collaboration and social interaction automatically are integrated into the experience. Along with that, first-person shooters are seen as an optical exercise and are being used in hospitals around the country to help with visual rehabilitation and to improve eye problems.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Secret Service performed a dual study that found 27 percent of those involved in school shootings were attracted to violent movies; 24 percent were attracted to violent books and only 12 percent to violent video games. And even then, there is no proven link that the movies, books and video games are what inspired the student behave violently.
If those stats aren’t enough, results from a Swinburn University of Technology experiment suggested that only children and teens who were already inclined to neurotic behavior or already aggressive show a tendency towards violent acts post-video gaming.
To put it into common words, anyone who is passionate enough to deliberately hurt or murder someone will do it with or without video games. No one plays a first person shooter and says, “You know what, I never really thought about killing that annoying kid at school, but now that I have shot someone virtually in this electronically simulated, completely fictional video game, I think I might just go out and get a gun and murder him.”
Most children understand the difference between reality and fantasy in the concrete or formal operational stages (around 7 or 12 years old), so a child is most-likely smart enough to know that beating up a virtual character using the toggles and buttons on the control is different from clenching fists and swinging punches. And they also realize that reloading a gun requires more than pressing and that they can’t get shot six times, find a first aid kit and be completely healed.
This story first appeared in Casa Grande High School’s Gaucho Gazette.