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The Curse Upon Video Games - Destructoid

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I play video games. I live in the barren wasteland of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and I'm pretty much only here for being a graduate student in neuroscience. I also enjoy being a musician and a part-time sportsman. Gaming outlets currently frequented include Xbox 360 and PS3, but is known to mooch a DS for Pokémon, play a Wii with girls and at parties, and also some Minecraft on my Linux machine.

Nonsense list of favourites: Halo, Elder Scrolls, Uncharted, Fallout, Gran Turismo, Minecraft, Assassin's Creed, Onimusha, Dead Space, Forza, Marvel vs. Capcom, Torchlight, Donkey Kong, Command & Conquer, Pokémon, Castlevania

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Dichotomy. It is a fundamental construct of nature. It is positive and negative, ones and zeroes, peace and war, good and evil, health and disease. Every level of observable discourse displays this pattern in some way, both socially and scientifically; even the entity of video games. How, you might ask? Video games themselves and all the good things that come with them such as simple entertainment, artistic expression, community interaction, and economic impact, to name a few, present the positive aspect. On the other hand, however, lays the curse of ignorance. While it is true the same could be said for any social construct, I believe this has a special case within the realm of video games. Unfortunately, this fights like a giant, two-headed monster.



One head barks the hordes of uneducated public, especially in academia, politics and the media, oblivious to the video game industry and what it actually contributes to society. Out of the other, and potentially more troubling, face are the infected members of the video game community who are equally unwitting to the values of society as a whole and the potential repercussions of their actions back on the industry.



As alluded to, video games seem to have a strange dogma about them in contemporary society. Today, everybody knows that movies in the theatre are 3D and not on reels, your favourite television shows are in high definition and not over antenna, and music gets played on an iPod and not on cassette. But it seems to me that if you asked them about video games, a good portion of people would still think the kids are playing Pac-Man in an arcade or Duck Hunt on their Nintendo. And if you ask them about that new-fangled Xbox, they’ll comment on those realistic games where you kill people, making the kids these days purely violent when they go into the streets, if they’re not too obese to fit out the door.



Some light hyperbole used there, but the mentality is explained. It is this mentality that infects people of greater society including politicians, like our good friend Senator Lee being concerned with the video game industry making “billions of dollars at the expense of our kids’ mental health and the safety of our community” because the industry only makes money from violence and kids only want to play the violent games. Consider academic professionals like Mr. Pope, saying that “spending two hours on a game station is equivalent to taking a line of cocaine in the high it produces in the brain”, or Ms. Lieberman claiming rape without citing any empirical research or having any credentials other than “therapist”. That’s because there isn’t any of either.



Allow me to explain what they’re fighting. Gamers fit into a perfect normal distribution. The meaty middle part is you and me, your average, sane gaming majority who can tell the difference between reality and what light is coming from their TV. On the left are the below-average gamers, the fewer number who’ll play some at a party or get a free game or two off the App Store. On the right are the hardest of the hardcore. The few who may be truly mentally unstable and the ones every one hears about because they make the news. So naturally, that’s what games must do to everyone! We must stop these sinful games now before they defile our youth and blight them with blind hatred! Fear that which you don’t understand, so they say. Maybe try learning about it? Who does that?

Another disturbing trend I’ve noticed is equal amounts of unabashed ignorance from people within the gaming community, both those within the game industry and gamers themselves. It takes two to tango it would seem, and some are willing to dance. While not as widespread as in the masses, some feel the need to feed the fire of the politicians. Developers putting out ridiculous things like dog fighting games, or homosexuality “cures”, or school shootings (although I see it differently than Mr. Stirling here). Mr. Stirling’s recent Jimquisition (among others) provides evidence for the ignorance of some gamers at large, and this presents a troubling feature. Trolls will be trolls, but you would think it has to come to a point eventually. Not only gamers share this mentality, but fellow journalists. I’m not trying to sound like a Jim fanboy here, but entitling someone to their opinion abides by a certain code of ethics, especially among your colleagues.

Returning to the point made previous, Mr. Holmes has brought to light how the children are suffering the repercussions of their elder's indignant fears, in addition to the other factors mentioned. I played my fair share of games with guns in my youth, don't get me wrong, but I was taught their meaning and place of entertainment. But I digress. I can't rant about everything at once (or can I...). Alas, the moral paradox. Where do you think you fall on the curve? Do you fit nicely in the sane majority, proving to the world that gaming can be a positive entertainment outlet? Or are you a trolling maniac, defaming the honour of being a gamer to the greater society? Defend your position wisely.



/rant
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