Home > censorship, social control > Video Games, Violence, and Society (Part 5)

Video Games, Violence, and Society (Part 5)

June 30th, 2008

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One such way would be to eliminate the lifeblood of factions: liberty. Yet he concludes that this is an absurd result. In the same regard, a great thing like a video game whose consumption just so happens to be an act of individual liberty cannot be blamed when the supposed dangers “caused” by it can be prevented by the animate and thinking individual taking responsibility for action, as opposed to placing the blame upon lines of computer code.

The Real Social Gains of Video Games

For all talk about damage to society, even in the context of the existence numerous individuals lacking education to properly harness the gains of violent video games, there are many who have benefited from the virtual world. Video games provide a new ground upon which competitive urges can be peacefully satisfied. While before, only athletics and a handful of board games (like chess) offered that opportunity, the ever-expansive possibilities of computing allow greater and more diverse tests of mental skill. The internet allows for the effective social consumption of games, especially for those with limited mobility or those living in rural areas. Furthermore, the presence of the internet amplifies competitiveness by bringing players of many different skill-sets globally together, ensuring that players are more likely to be matched with challenging opponents, leading to faster and more pronounced evolution of skills.

That the U. S. military has used the video game format for its training for almost two decades now, and continues to do so, is testament to the usefulness of it in developing skill sets. Some critics like David Grossman might argue that video games “train our children to kill,” but his accusation predicates on the same notion as the accusations of all other game critics: that games are played and learned from outside of meaningful cultural and moral contexts, with a lack of discernment between fantasy and reality.

Growing thematic and symbolic education is not out of the question either. The overwhelming re-visitation of historical events such as World War II in numerous video games over the past decade has given gamers of all ages the ability to experience combat in the ruins of Stalingrad, the barren fields of North Africa, and most significantly the terrifying beaches of Normandy. These re-enactments, with the improvement of technology, have taught players more and more the nature of the sacrifices made by real individuals on those battlefields.

Some of this thematic material, of course, is the cause for part of the violent assault on video games. Their content can very much be subversive to the established interests to society, yet in a very compelling and entertaining way. To the social conservative, this is a devastating combination. As it was with Rock & Roll, more and more people are growing to love video games, and resilient social elements are hating it. In the 1950s, rock music was used as a scapegoat for social problems, and video games will be no exception to this trend. In spite of this, the gaming community is in an enviable position to put up a large fight. The intellectual nature of video games has led to the fusion of the greatest minds and producers in society- engineers, philosophers, artists, anyone who loves interactive experience- to the same interest, in preserving their right to be entertained how they please. It has also, appropriately, led to a wry smugness which ridicules and exposes “the social order” for what it truly is: the attempt to impose arbitrary values on unsuspecting individuals, via fear or guilt, if necessary.

There is no doubt that some video games are, plainly, junk, as the critics allege. They offer little in the way of wholesome or quality fun, instead following in the footsteps of the movie theater junk heap- but this is a fact that the gaming community recognizes, out of which great meta-entertainment is made. [8] Regardless of what contingent trash may float through our space-time, the strength and potential of the medium must be recognized. Just as for many major world events there were defining photographs that changed their outcomes or symbolically marked their turning points, video games may one day, too, become instruments of change.

“War, what is it good for? Making totally sweet videogames. ”


[1] “Computer Model Predicts Outcome of DNA Shuffling.

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