Every Tom, Dick, and Harriet knows how this goes. Games are bad for your eyes. They’re addictive. They have noody ladies and foul language and violence. They draw you away from studies and your social life. They ruin your posture. And by the way, they give you AIDs and brain cancer, too. And if you grow up to be a serial killer, it’s all the fault of those games.
And I am the Tooth Fairy.
It is often said that people fear and reject what they do not understand. When TV came out, there were people who said that the “idiot box” would turn your kids into morons [2 minute Maggi Idiot, anyone?]. Particularly in Sri Lanka, parents refused to let children watch english films on TV due to actresses wearing “indecent things” [meaning anything above the knee, to the 70′ s generation]. Yet today we see more adults glued to the TV than children, happily watching near-naked Hindi models cavorting across the screen.
When cellphones made their way from the over 40’s businessmen to the under 20’s group, self-appointed experts and concerned busybodies predicted that society would de-evolve into a place where boys and girls hooked up from grade 2, thanks to mobile phones.
And now, ladies and gentlemen . . . let us hearken, and take on GAMES. For we have failed to take down TV, and we have failed to take down mobiles; therefore let us scour this world of games.
Ok, that last part was an exaggeration. But seriously: let’s look at the myths – and the facts.
Gaming is a waste of time.
On the contrary. Gaming is entertainment. It’s no different from watching a movie or reading a book. Whatever kicketh thy bucket, said the wise man. And compared to most of the *movies* we watch,they’re a hell of a lot more decent.
Gaming corrupts children. They have drugs, shooting, violence, prostitution . . .
Oh yeah? When was the last time you read the news? Take a good long look. Drugs. Check. Shooting. Check. Violence. Check. Child prostituion [wait, that’s not even IN games]. But yes, all that and more are available in real life.
Satire aside, gaming is a peaceful alternative compared to what people usually perceive as normal. Driving a virtual car into a virtual cop is nowhere near as violent as 90% of all films you watch, with blood and guts flying everywhere. You want to argue it’s not the same? Go watch Saw. Go watch the Human Centipede.
Cinema corrupts more successfully than anything else.
Now for a dose of reality. Go watch the news. Have a nice, long look at some of those LTTE car-bombing scenes.
Everything that happens in games happens in real life.
And more often, real life is worse. Because in a game, you’re locked to one thing – shooting an enemy in Call Of Duty is one thing. In real life? You shoot him in the leg, cut off his limbs, torture him and leave him tied to a tree. In real life you have Nazis shooting down millions of Jews. In real life you have atom bombs.
Contrast this with the picture below, which is of a gaming tournament. Hmm, notable absence of dead bodies and dictators . . .
Violent games teach players how to kill and be violent. Violently.
In my experience, you play a game with a controller, say a mouse and a keyboard. Take GTA. You move, shoot, kill pedestrians and hookers and gang members, all with the mouse and the keyboard. When your health gets low, you go see a doctor.
In real life – no, you can’t move with a keyboard. No, you can’t slice someone’s head off with a mouse-tap. No, you can’t bash someone over the head with a +9 Mace of Sealing on the 138 road. Sorry to bust your bubble. Give an experienced COD player a real AK47 and he’ll probably fall over with the weight of it. Last time I heard, this wasn’t GTA, or COD, or NFS. You can’t drive cars or beat up people with a keyboard in real life. Doesn’t work even if you tried. It’s entertainment: not reality. Just because you play Hitman doesn’t mean you’ll be able to sneak up and garotte
Games are meaningless. You spent 5 hours playing something and it’s of no use to your career, your life, or your libido.
So is music. Beethoven’s great, man, but he does neither of those things for you. Neither does Justin Beiber, or Linkin Park, or Amaradeva. Novels are useless. Sherlock Holmes is useless. Shakespeare is useless.
Statues are useless. The pyramids of Egypt are useless.
Every form of art is useless. What is the Mona Lisa to me? I’d pick Deus Ex any day.
Games, in fact, are the most meaningful medium in existence today. Games allow the developer to tell stories, to express idea, to convey messages far better than a book or a movie. Take RPG games, which do away with the linearity of novels; the player can explore all branches of a storyline vastly more complex than could be written down. Games do away with the fixed viewpoint of movies, allowing the player to see everything from all perspectives. Best of all – games allow you to create an entire world, and live it. Infinite possibilities; worlds where reality is absolute, or nonexistent. What a human mind can imagine, the human mind can cast in a game.
Meaningless? Take Bioshock and Deus Ex, which take on the themes of transhumanism, social collapse, politics, and the merging of man and machine. Take Dragon Age, which contains enough storylines and world-information than all of Tolkien’s novels put together.
Explore the other direction. NFS Hot Pursuit, perhaps? Which, unlike movies[ which lets you watch James Bond driving a fast car], actually lets you get into the car chase with more exotics than you’ll ever see?
Or Flower, which lets you experience the dream of a flower?
Or GTA, which gives you an entire living, breathing cityscape to let loose in, managing to tell tales of the less-seen underworld while at it?
A game is so much more than a book or a movie; there’s so much more immersion there. Perhaps this is why “video-game addiction” occurs; it’s so much more real than a book. Don’t mistake me: like everything, games have their bad side.
There have been “bad” games.
But . . . .
There have also been “bad” movies.
“Bad” works of art.
And all of these things are still here.
Face it. Gaming isn’t here to blow your kid’s brains away: it’s here to entertain. And the way things are going, games will take the movie empire out of the top spot and establish themselves as the primary means of communicating stories. Stories where you can be the hero. Where you take the steps. Where you make the calls. Where the fate of the world, literally, rests on your hands.
In fact, they’re already begun.
- Doom creator John Carmack: violent video games reduce real-world aggression (telegraph.co.uk)
- Violent video games ‘reduce crime’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- More Research Suggests That Competition In Video Games, Not Violence, Spurs Aggression (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Defending Violent Video Games (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Violence in Games and What Do Kids Think of It? (socyberty.com)