Video games are a large part of today’s society. Commercials, TV, billboards, almost everywhere you look, a video game shows up. But many of these games have violence-related topics and can be seen as tasteless. Games such as “Hitman,” “Call of Duty” and the Metal Gear franchise all have violent premises, but are in the mainstream culture. So, is playing these video games really bad for us?
Most of the video games that are put under the microscope in the discussion of violence are not broken down into their core elements. Many games that have a form of violence in them, usually teach problem-solving and may provide other helpful skills. In a certain level of a game, you may have to sneak into an enemy base undetected to help save the world. This may seem like a lot of nonsense that has no meaning other than entertainment. But completing the tasks often take multiple tries to complete. Teaching anyone who plays them patience and problem-solving.
Author Steven Johnson, in his book ”Everything Bad Is Good For You,” points out that the complexity of newer games helps. Take Pac-Man versus a newer game for an example. In Pac-Man, you had to escape four ghosts, but in new games, you have the entire NYPD on your tail, making it more challenging, therefore enhancing your problem-solving skills.
I’m sure most people are thinking that I’m dodging the question that violence is the bad part. However, most of the articles that have given statements against the violence in video games have not had enough exposure to the actual game itself. They see maybe a one-minute clip of someone shooting a character in the game and will make their prejudgments of the game without actually playing the game themselves. Most of these games have compelling storylines and are not just about the violence.
As a counter argument, some people may ask, “Why do these games need all the violence to enhance the storyline?” It’s the same reason someone will watch a mafia movie where the main characters shoot up a restaurant to kill a couple people. It’s interesting. It’s not just that we want to kill these fictional characters, we care about the stories that unfold in their life, much like any book or movie. Actually playing as these characters can give you a greater connection to them, in my experience, more than any book or movie has ever achieved.
That brings me to my final point. Most arguments like to avoid the fact that TV shows or movies are as violent or more violent than video games. A counter-argument may be, ”Then all of this culture is bad, we should just read a book.” Once again, many great tales involve a death, murder or other violent elements.
For example, “Oliver Twist,” “Romeo and Juliet” and fairy tales all have some form of violence in their storylines. ”OK, but that is just fiction, nonfiction must be better.” Not really. Assassination attempts and wars are most of what make up most history books, and we are taught about them in schools. Violence is everywhere, adding one more source of violence may not be as a big of a deal as some might think.