Friday, September 13, 2013

Video Games and Violence

          I was reading an article on earlier today about video games and violence. The author was pretty fair, I thought, simply relaying what studies have shown and the conclusions drawn from such studies by people who study behavior. The studies all point to one thesis: Violent video games make violent people. 

            In all honesty, I completely disagree. Here is the real thesis: Violence makes violent people more violent. Want evidence? OK, how about the guys that get paid to be violent. Most of these “violent” video games are military related. Wouldn’t that mean that people who actually fought in wars would be violent? Yet, oddly enough these ex-military guys are some of the least violent people I have ever met. Oh, there are a few nutjobs, to be sure, but by and large they are decent, well-tempered people. The nutjobs were nutjobs before they ever enlisted.

            How about football? Does that make you violent? They say spousal abuse increases during football season. Does Madden make people more violent?

            It’s easy to see why violent people would be attracted to violent video games. They get to do violence and it’s OK. So why assume the game makes them that way? Wouldn’t an inordinate amount of violent people be playing it? Would people with violent tendencies be more likely to play Halo or chess? So would it be fair to point out that after 10 years of Halo vs 10 years of chess, the Halo players are more violent? Of course they are, they were BEFORE they started playing.

Let’s take this a step further. Does a casino make someone a compulsive gambler? Is that why casinos have more compulsive gamblers in their buildings? Or do compulsive gamblers go to where the gambling is? 

Violent video games are not a bad thing (although I think the wholesale slaughter of people in a Russian airport was way over the top). I have learned a great deal about military jargon, weapons and tactics from playing games like the Call of Duty series. It is so realistic that it offers useful insight into the military world.

And I do appreciate that the violence and language can be toned down quite a bit in some of the games for younger players. While I don’t think the games will make them violent, there needs to be age appropriateness in the subject matter. I don’t want an 8 year old seeing a person’s head explode. He doesn’t need that imagery haunting his dreams. I played Call of Duty:Black Ops 2 when it came out with my young son sitting next to me. I turned the violence and language down. I’m glad I did, even though I missed a few key character deaths. It was worth it to be able to enjoy the game together.

By the way, if you are worried about your kids playing any video games, keep the machine in the same room as you. Don’t put it in a separate room where you can’t monitor the content. Don’t let them play online where the real violent weirdos are.

In the end, you know your kids. If you really think they are becoming more violent when they play, limit how much they play. It’s that easy.

And when are they going to make a Prepper–related video game that doesn’t involve zombies or some such non-sense?