Having listened to so many people within and even outside the gaming industry voice their opinion regarding US President Donald Trump’s recent statements on video games and how he believes they affect people’s psyches, I thought I would put in my own two cents on the matter. This is not based on any scientific research, nor is it formed by the views of the industry as a whole. It’s just what I personally think of the issue.
There are a lot of games out there that portray elements of violence. And, unfortunately, even though there is a rating system in place, not many parents are choosing to take it into consideration when buying a new game for their child(ren), rather they just seem to go to the store and pick up whatever the new trend is. Or even worse, nowadays kids can simply purchase whatever they want online using their parents credit card, without them even understanding what it is they bought. Sure, there are filters and parental locks available, but who has the time to put all those in?
Thankfully, in my opinion at least, games have started doing a much better job on at least explaining all that violence and giving it the gravity and importance that it should have, rather than just putting it out there as a reward for your efforts. The medium has done leaps and bounds from the days when avatars would randomly blast each other’s heads off at the sound of some very spiteful 10-year-old’s.
Yet, even in those dark days, you would never hear of anyone getting hurt over a video game. Sure, the sentiment of losing repeatedly and not being able to progress any further might make players temporarily furious, maybe even to the point of what some people would describe as “abnormal behavior”, but the cases of them actually becoming violent towards others are too few to count. And also, this has nothing to do with what the game was showing to them. Even a casual round of Super Mario would be enough to bring on this sort of reaction.
To condemn video games (or “Nintendos”, as my and I assume many other player’s parents still call them) as “the glorification of all violence” seems ignorant, at the very least. Those words sound like they’re coming from the mouth of a person who’s frame of mind remains stuck in the 90’s, when the medium was still considered a completely foreign element to most of the world. Those don’t sound like the words of a leader of one of the world’s greatest nations, but from someone who’s isolated in his own little world, not knowing what goes on in the outside. Wake up Mr President: today almost everyone has at least one “Nintendo” on their smartphone. In fact, I’m willing to bet you do as well.
But video games are not a source of violence, in fact it’s exactly the opposite. For many people they have been a refuge to escape their difficult daily lives with their magnificent worlds and stories that gave them the opportunity to forget about their troubles. Having lived (for a very short time, thankfully) in the pre-video game era, I can personally attest that it is very important to be able to have such a thing. If you got into an argument or you had a bad day at school or things at work didn’t go the way you wanted them or if you’re having a hard time with your significant other, all this can magically go away once you dive into that new game you’ve been looking forward to.
In fact, with the introduction of the internet, this lead to the creation of online fan communities that slowly began to hold their first gatherings in some of the bigger cities around the world, thus providing a sort of “safe haven” for people who wanted to share their appreciation and excitement for their favorite titles or franchises with others. They kept growing and growing and these days the biggest of them span from the tens to the hundreds of thousands, whether we’re talking e-sports, gaming expo’s or just simple get-together’s.
The stories, the worlds, the music, the characters that feel so alive nowadays, make us all part of their personal journeys. And they allow us to escape our own, even if it’s just for a little. To forget our troubles and all that heavy stuff. We look forward to the time we get to open up our console and dive back in. Or other games with their online communities where we can enjoy a casual round of whatever with our best friends… these moments are precious to us and they bring us so much joy. Even if the game that’s on the screen is as ridiculous as Grand Theft Auto V with all of its glorious graphic violence that reaches the point of obscenity. Gaming is anything but violent! And yet you stood there in front of the whole world Mr President and said that “video games contribute to the glorification of violence in society”… Have you ever even sat down to try an actual video game? You’re the elected representative of a nation. You should start acting like one and show an interest towards the younger generation.
Originally published at http://sopeoplewhatsup.blogspot.com.