Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Video gamers are evil

I like the TV show CSI, the original series playing in Las Vegas. But of course I also watch the spin-offs, in spite of them being less good. Yesterday I watched one episode of CSI Miami which was really horribly bad, plus being quite insulting to video gamers. I was about to tell you the story, but somebody at Salon already reported it long ago.

While the guy playing 70 hours of video games straight and dying from it actually happened in Korea, that death only got about 1 minute of the show. The rest was about the much more unlikely case of a group of students re-enacting scenes from a video game with a strong resemblance to Grand Theft Auto in real life. They even carried little counters to count their 2,000 points for shooting a real bank cashier, only intent on winning "the game", not really interested in the money they robbed. Machine pistols provided courtesy by the game companies manager, as a marketing tool.

Now I don't belong to the people who deny that video games can influence people. Positive influence of video games, for example in improving your eye-hand coordination is scientifically proven. Learning game software is a multi-million dollar business. If you believe that a medium can influence somebody to some good purpose, you need to accept that it can have a bad influence as well. Media are just blank slates, good and evil depends on the content depicted on them, not on the media itself.

I do believe that violent films and video games can change a teenagers general attitude to violence. And him watching too much porn is likely to change his attitude towards women. Nevertheless nearly everybody is able to distinguish reality from fantasy. While overexposure to violence in media might change somebodies general attitude, it is highly unlikely that he will want to re-enact Pulp Fiction or Grand Theft Auto. The very few isolated cases that can't tell reality from fiction are just as likely to jump of the roof trying to play Superman as they are to play Dirty Harry. Making violence in media illegal to save a handful of nutters wouldn't work, and would be more likely to make people unable to deal with the all too real violence in the real world.

As the Salon article said, it is kind of ironic if a TV show which is full of violence (the episode before that had somebody shot in the eye with a nail gun) preaching against the evil influence of violent video games in a case which isn't even remotely likely. It just scares parents who don't understand their teenage anyway, and makes them see dangers that don't exist. Overexposure to video games in general can have negative effects on your kids, for example in social isolation and falling grades. Them robbing banks isn't one of the dangers.
I play a warlock, I guess I should start summoning demons now and demand a Dreadmist Robe from Blizzards Marketing department :P

Its the same old story here. Laugh at, or be afraid of, the things you don't understand. Either video gamers are sad pathetic geeks to be laughed at, or their all homicidal maniacs. I'm not entirely sure which is the best to have people think of me, I guess Id have more "respect" from the latter :P. Of course actually I'm perfectly normal and have enough self control not too fit Machine Guns to the bonnet of my car after playing Auto Assault.
It is just the same old thing again. Depending on your age, you might have been accused of evil due to pencil and paper Dungeons and Dragons games (still happens often thanks to those little books the door-knocking people pass out), Rock N Roll, or even Superman/Batman, since kids were going to jump from windows with blankets to make them fly. Makes you wonder how the umbrella industry dodged the Mary Poppins incident.

Who knows, if you go far enough back in time, perhaps this conversation took place in a cave somewhere with CromagnonMama yelling at CromagnonTeenager to stop playing with that whole Fire thing.

As a parent of a pair of pre-teens, I have no problem with them gaming. I actively assess all their games, and should I make a bad decision (PG, but what made it past the censors I'd rather not have in the house), that game is gone PDQ. I know I'm in the minority that think the games won't poison my kids' minds. That would be because it's MY JOB to teach them the difference between games and life. Which isn't nearly as hard as the media makes it out to be.
Here is Europe we had less of the "D&D is evil because it has devils and demons" thing. But we did have a case in Germany where somebody was doing LRPG (live role-playing), donned a real chain mail shirt, managed to fall into a lake, and drowned. Can't understand why, in WoW my pally swims quite well in full metal armor. ;)
While wielding a sword and shield too, I bet!

I'd never be able to LARP because I'd end up running around yelling "Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!" and snickering.
Reminds me of this extralife comic.

I dont think videogames have any more violent influence on people than movies or even books. The danger i see from videogames is more like bad time management (playing way too much) and therefore neclecting homework, IRL social network or in some extreme cases... eating :P

Most people fail to see that playing games is like a hobby/sport. Most sports are attended on a set schedule and i think parents can "help" their kids by setting a playing schedule. Blizzard actually implemented a Parental Control feature in World of Warcraft to help parents do this.

For more thoughts on games = hobby see Nick Yee's Games, Life, and The Pursuit of Happiness
I actually own a real katana, made in the old-style tradition, very expensive and very very sharp.

Does this make me a bad person? Of course it does.
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