The Media Debate
Video games have come a long way—from a protagonist that is nothing more than a vertical line (Pong) to the very futuristic Master Chief (Halo). In Darwin’s terms, it was an evolutionary leap considering the video game industry has been around for barely 40 years. With that advancement in technology, the level of violence in video games has dramatically increased (from stepping on mushrooms to destroying an entire neighborhood). The increased violence in turn, rang the alarm bells of concerned individuals that think that the human race would be better off without video games. These concerned individuals have gone public claiming that they have proof that relates violent video games to the bad things happening in society. However, in my opinion, the human race is much more peaceful now with the presence of video games than we were as recent as 50 years ago without video games.
Though we are relatively peaceful today compared in the past, people have always been violent and would continue to be so. It is very unlikely that humans in general would get rid of this primitive but natural tendency for aggression. Those people who blame video games just diverted their attention to a pop culture piece of machinery just to get attention. In the past, people have done much more horrible things, way before the first violent video game was invented. People have pillaged villages, massacred towns, killed each other in wars, etc. The level of violence today is nothing compared to what has happened before. As I see it, people today are more tamed; playing violent games is the closest thing a gamer is ever going to get in successfully doing a flying kick.
Critics might find a hole in that last statement and point out another alleged bad influence of video games. I was suggesting that people who play video games are not exactly the athletic type of persons. There are some researchers who claim that obesity has something to do with playing video games—they conduct surveys and conclude, based on those numbers, that playing video games makes people fat. How scientific is that? In a recent “study” conducted in Switzerland, researchers were quick to conclude that obesity has something to do with playing video games. Quoting one of the researchers, “Our findings suggest that the use of electronic games should be limited to prevent childhood obesity” (Stettler). What’s surprising about this study is that the researchers had only done the study using 872 respondents, not enough samples to suggest a definitive outcome. This study is not convincing for me because the findings only suggest that some kids who play video games are fat, not playing video games makes them fat. For all we know, those kids were already overweight before taking hold of the controller.
Contrary to what some scientists are saying, others, including myself, see the positive effects that video games play in our lives. A USA today article in 2005 tells readers that there are good things that video games can do. ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder patients play video games to help with their therapy. Although some of these games are specifically designed to help ADD patients, the same principle can be applied in most games, including violent games. Video games help players focus. Other benefits include: improving logic, relieving stress, and somewhat surprisingly, playing video games, which can actually help a person lose weight. With the introduction of Wii and active arcades, gamers are not limited to merely sitting around and pushing buttons.
Video games or media in general has surely become a lot violent these days, and its popularity has made some of us into couch potatoes. But to rule media as cause for delinquent behavior, obesity etc. is a hasty generalization.
Edell, Dean. “Video Games and Obesity, Best Evidence Yet.” Health Central Network. 30
June 2004. 13 February 2009 <http://www.healthcentral.com/drdean/408/60891.html>.
Snider, Mike. “Video Games can Actually be Good for You.” USA Today. 26 September