The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
I'm really trying to move past all this talk of gun
violence and video game violence but it seems like every time I turn around I
see something else on the subject. One of the most troubling statements I saw
recently was from Brian Kolb, Assembly Republican Leader, New York Assembly
(and for the record I am a Republican so I'm not being biased, just
"When we desensitize with video games are we
contributing to these young people that have issues differentiating between
real and unreal violence..."
I've been a gamer a long time; longer than some of you
have been alive. I've played all sorts of games, violent and not, for my whole
life - from childhood to present. It's funny, because I've never really made a
distinction between which ones were violent and which ones weren't. I just
played them. They were (and still are) a big part of my life growing up.
My brother and I were home alone often, and not allowed
to go outside (so the neighbors wouldn't call the cops for us being unattended).
We would resort to playing video games to occupy our time. We played whatever
we could get our hands on. I don't even remember where we got them from, I
certainly never remember my parents (which were split up by the way) buying
them, and Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet for us to download them. But
we had them.
At a very young age, my brother and I were frequently dropped
off at the local arcade for hours at a time with a little bit of money and we
would stay there until around midnight. The arcade would close and we'd be
stuck outside waiting for my mom to show up to retrieve us. This was like an
every Friday and/or Saturday night event. I can remember spending all my money
within the first 2 hours (or 20 minutes) and then spend the remainder of the
night just hanging out, searching all the coin returns in the various machines for
a token somebody missed.
Well, I don't want to sit here and bore you all with the
specifics of my childhood, and I'm not going to detail all of the errors my
parents made raising my brother and I. We didn't have it as rough as some, but
I certainly wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth either. I think I
turned out okay.
One of the things I've battled with my entire life though
is the "statistics" of what I'm at risk of...a lot of it based solely
on the behavior of my family, or friends, or like-minded people who are
categorized because they engage in similar activities.
Siblings and parents are role models for
children. If a child's parents smoke they are three times more likely to smoke
Experts say if you're parents smoke, drink, do drugs, use
foul language, are abusive or engage in all sorts of other unsavory behavior...then
you are at a higher risk of following in their footsteps and engaging in the
same sort of behavior. Whether this is true or not, is irrelevant to me,
because it isn't true for me. I am none of those things.
Because some young adults who
just so happened to play video games in their life decided to be evil or were
always evil does not indicate there is a link between video games anymore then
it proves that these games somehow blurred the line between knowing right from wrong.
Frankly, I find this talk of desensitization
and not being able to differentiate between real and unreal violence ridiculous
and borderline offensive. We have overreacted to the point of absurdity and are
subjecting our kids to outrageous reactionary behavior that avoids identifying the
"A 5-year-old girl
was suspended from school earlier this week after she made what the school
called a "terrorist threat." Her weapon of choice? A small, Hello Kitty automatic
bubble blower. The kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary
School in Pennsylvania, caught administrators' attention after suggesting she
and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles. The kindergartner was
ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation during her 10-day suspension,
which was later reduced to two days." (Full Story here)
I grew up in a somewhat violent home, although the
violence wasn't directed at me. We had many guns available and I saw my stepfather
on more than one occasion use one to threaten people. Sure, they were being jerks,
but they probably didn't deserve to have their life threatened. I had access to
those guns, especially since I was home alone so often. I never needed anybody
to tell me playing with them was wrong, or dangerous. I could play violent
video games for hours on end, and when I put the controller down at the end of
the day, I still knew the difference between right and wrong, just like I knew
those guns in the next room over had the capability of killing. My level of
reasoning, even as a young kid, wasn't diminished from playing video games.
Somebody could argue games from back then weren't as real
or violent as they are now, and I'd agree the graphics have certainly come
along way...but as I grew older and the games evolved, I also had a family of my
own. My kids from a very young age played games that would probably cause most
mothers in the PTA to cringe and Mr. Kolb to condemn my parenting technique. But
I've done what I've seen so many other parents fail to do, and that is raise
all of my kids to adulthood without the problems that many of them faced...heck,
that I faced...as a kid growing up...all while playing video games as an everyday
part of their life. Violent video games even.
(Daddy's Little Girl - Shoots Guns, Plays Violent Video Games - knows the difference)
I'm a grown man now, as if you couldn't have guessed. I've
been in the military a long time and travelled the world over, including a
lovely trip to Iraq. I've seen the worst this world has to offer, but I've also
seen the best. And through it all, I've been a gamer the whole time...and to this
day, I'm still amazed that video games tug at my heart and are able to touch me
emotionally the way they do - the sign of a great game if you ask me.
I've been known to get emotional with events most would
characterize as silly, like the time in Red Dead Redemption when I was trying
to assist a lawman being attacked by bandits who turned on me and shot my horse
dead. That broke my heart. He was my favorite horse that I had since I started
the game. Heck, in Minecraft I usually grow wheat to make bread for food,
because I don't like killing the cows and pigs for food. Even I think that one
is ridiculous...but they are so cute I just can't bring myself to strike them
down. I've even played video games with strong content that really kind of
grieved my spirit. It did anything but confuse the line between real and fake...in
fact, it reminded me of the sanctity of life and how to preserve it. Games like
Spec Ops The Line, Call of Duty, Battlefield and Dead Space all had moments
that really stopped me in my tracks because of the brutality displayed in the
game. It reminded me to appreciate life and amplified the difference between
right and wrong.
If you ask me, these games have the opposite affect that
many of the politicians and those against them seem to think they do. Instead
of desensitizing us, how about evaluating whether they sharpen the level of
sensitivity we feel when we play these types of games.
I am proof your statistics are skewed, and I'm sure I'm
Very good blog Saint!
Great blog like always Saint. I have been playing games for almost 30 years, I really that old, and quite a few of the games I have playedave been violent. Those games never made me a violent person the violence around me did when i was younger, grown up since then though and still play violent games and not violent anymore so with that argument i should still be violent . Violence is what you choose not because of games but what you see around you. Anything else is a cop out to avoid personal responsibility .
Perhaps one of the greater Ironies of this world; parents are irresponsible in the raising of their children and then wonder why their children turned out "bad". That is not to say that some can break the great chain. Thats the goal, really. (bout to get reeeeal existential here) breaking the chain of prior mistakes to forge the proper human experience in the name of honor and good.
Forgive me if I make little sense, its four in the morning.
Very good blog. I am tired of people, who do not play video games, saying video games desensitize us, and cause us to commit acts of violence. They do not. People who commit acts of violence are going to, whether or not they have played video games.
I have always loved video games. I've played all types. From very cute LittleBigPlanet and Super Mario 64 to Killzone, Resistance, Call of Duty, Dead Space, and so forth. I have never once had any thoughts about violence, in fact I actually abhor violence. Yet, all of these games, just like you said, have caused me to care about the story and characters. I get easily attached to characters in a game. I don't want anything bad to happen to them. If I was so desensitized from playing games, I do not believe I would care what happened to anyone within video games, yet I do.
Hear, hear (especially) to your closing lines. This is one of my favorite posts you've ever written, Saint. And I think you should mail this to Kolb.
"It reminded me to appreciate life and amplified the difference between right and wrong."
That line was huge. It is going on my wall in my office alone with this blog so my kids can read it. Great stuff Saint. Hope you had a great weekend.
I know some people who are very opinionated about video games. They really get on my nerves. They talk about the effects of violent video games and I jump in and say, "Well... I grew up playing violent video games" and they ALWAYS make excuses & either insist that the games now are having a greater effect because the graphics are more realistic or they insist that I'm the exception, not the rule. Also, they tend to subtly throw in that I had good parents & I immediately think, "Oh, so there are multiple factors, huh? It's not JUST the violent video games..."
Grinds my gears...
I completely agree with your last comments there. Excellent writing.
"Heck, in Minecraft I usually grow wheat to make bread for food, because I don't like killing the cows and pigs for food. Even I think that one is ridiculous...but they are so cute I just can't bring myself to strike them down."
Once I realized I could make shears to get wool from sheep without killing them, I felt like a monster. Also, one of these days I need to invite you GIO folks to my minecraft manor. You should see my wheat fields.
Hey Saint! There are many of us who agree with u. I for one, absolutely agree. Just because I play games like COD, MOH, Ghost Recon, or Max Payne 3 doesn't mean I want to kill someone. I think that your closing lines were stated gracefully; that everyone that reads this or agree with you to some extent.
Simply put, Thank you Saint for all you do.