Are you someone who enjoys playing video games? Whether it is in your spare time or something you pursue as a hobby, gaming has presented itself as one of the most popular and ever growing forms of entertainment. However, video games are often criticized for supposedly encouraging violence in the society, which leaves us with a hotly contested issue- Do they or do they not encourage violence?
I personally believe that this isn’t true at all. As an avid gamer, I do play several gory video games and they have not led me to pull out a double barrel shot gun and shoot some random pedestrian in the face. Of course, that might sound fun in a video game but certainly not in the real world. In real world we have something called ‘jail time’. It is a documented fact that while the sales of violent video games have been increasing over the past 20 years, the rate of violent crime, overall, (especially juvenile crime) has been falling steadily. It is a person’s actions that need to be held accountable for – not the video games.
If we merely go by external influences, like video games, for violent behavior, how can we explain the killing of Abel by Cain, or the evil deeds of people that we read in holy books? – There were no video games or movies to influence their behavior, yet they indulged in violent behavior and crime. However, no one says that holy books contribute to violence because there is a noble objective in each of the holy books. In the same way, games also have objectives that contribute towards a higher goal.
However, some studies link aggressive behavior in people to playing violent video games, but, I do not believe in such studies because over the past 15 years, I have played with many online and offline gamers, and each of them clearly know the difference between virtual violence, in the context of a game, and appropriate behavior in real world situations. By the age of seven, children can distinguish fantasy from reality and can tell the difference between video game violence and real world violence. So, as long as parents allow only age appropriate games for their kids and expose them to good values, I am sure they will grow up to be confident and law abiding citizens. Besides, exposure to fantasy for kids is important. Of course, I do not mean exposing children to games not meant for their age, but it is important that children are exposed to their age appropriate games. Once a child grows up, he/she will be aware of what is real and what is not. I can personally relate to this because, while growing up, I remember watching all kinds of movies, shows and playing games. At any given point of my childhood, I was clearly able to tell that those pixels on my screen weren’t real and were all a result of special effects. Video games take people on a journey and can tell a story just like a movie does. Video games do bring about awareness and provide ideas for ways to deal with situations and problems that concern them. Another fact regarding the subject is that people who do play these games have shown increased pro-social behavior and civic engagement in the real world, possibly due to team oriented multiplayer options in many of the games.
One of the biggest benefits of video gaming is sharing and contribution. Unlike the olden days where knowledge sharing was almost non-existent, with people keeping trade “secrets”, today’s generation is willing to share ideas, opinions and knowledge – much of this can be contributed to the easy online access – however, video games take it to the next level of cooperation. Most games offer online experience where a gamer is required to work with a team of people from across the globe. This forces gamers to work with people who do not necessarily share the same ideas as they do, yet they are required to work as a team to achieve the game objective of finding a treasure or winning a battle.
Video gaming industry is also a very viable career path for the youth. Video gaming industry is now much bigger than Hollywood. While it is rare for Hollywood movies to make $ 1 billion, many video games routinely make several billions of dollars in sales. Most of those are “violent” games.
One requires a great deal of passion, carefully selected storylines, an understanding of what gamers want and what can potentially garner profits for the game creators. Such knowledge can only be acquired by being a gamer, as it cannot be taught in a school.