Game Influence

Do video games have a hold on you? Do you play compulsively? Have you isolated yourself from family, friends, or social interaction. Do you feel better betting a boss than achieving something in real life? Gaming has you under it influence. Do games change the way Americans think? The way the world thinks? Gaming has the world under it’s influence.

Video Games, particularly in more recent years, have became linked to tragic incidents. On April 20, 1999, American high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and themselves in the Columbine High School massacre. After this tragic event it was stated that the two students had been fans of the Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. Ever since then anti-video game activist have had some weight behind their arguments. On June 7, 2003, an American adult by the name Devin Moore, shot and killed three police officers after an arrest for the possession of a stolen vehicle. At the trial, his defense claimed that he had been inspired by the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto III. On June 25, 2003, two American step brothers, Joshua and William Buckner, used a rifle to fire at several vehicles in Tennessee, killing a man and a wounding a woman. The two shooters claimed to have been inspired by Grand Theft Auto III.

Not only have video games been linked to deaths involving violent actions as a result of violent games, but they have been linked to deaths resulting from their addictive qualities. In November of 2001, a 21-year-old American, by the name of Shawn Woolley, committed suicide after what his mother said was an the result of an addiction to Everquest. In August of 2005 two incidents happened that demonstrate the negative effects of video game addiction. The first, a four-month-old daughter of a South Korean couple died after her parents played World of Warcraft at an Internet cafe four five hours while the child was left unattended. The second, A 28-year-old South Korean man died after playing Starcraft for 50 hours straight. In October of 2004, Qiu Chengwei stabbed Zhu Caoyuan to death over a dispute regarding a virtual weapon’s sale of an item the two had won together in the game Legend of Mir 3. In many of these cases the actions could be state as the result of psychological problems, and not the sole result of the video games themselves.

Video games can be used as an escape, really any form of media could, but video games can offer the nearly never ending escape that television and radio can’t provide. When looking at video games as an escape, they’re more like a drug, in that they’re virtually endlessly entertaining. Just as someone could spend their entire life abusing drugs, someone could spend their entire life playing video games. The difference between drugs and Video games is someone could get a lifetime of use for a 50 dollor video game, especially if new content is obtain for free online.

During my senior year of high school, whenever I became “pissed off” for some reason or another, I would wait for my fifth hour accounting class so I could try and play the Unreal Tournament that was loaded on the computers for Computer Club tournaments. After playing, I would usually feel more relaxed. Was it because I was giving into an addiction? Rather than taking out my anger on my teacher, I took my anger out on the soulless virtual aliens.

I’ve played online games to the point were I now consider it was an addiction. I did less homework; I avoided social contact. I spent much of my time at school looking up strategies and game related material. It was never to the point were I was in serious need of help, but it was still unhealthy. So what do you do in this case? Or if you have a friend, who you think is having their life being taken over by a game, what do you do then? Well in my case I found another game and stopped playing the other one as often as I did. The new game was refreshing, I guess. So the important thing is to never play the same game for a long period of time. You need to pick another game and alternate. Playing one game and one only game means that there are less problems that come at you that you are unsure how to handle, you know how to handle it because you’ve done it a million times. These repetitive problems are not the same type of problems you would encounter in real life.

The only time that video games cause an addition problem, is when a video gamer finds fault in his own life and starts to find the accomplishments in games to be just as valuable, if not more valuable, than those they could get in real life. But could certain aspects of gaming be beneficial to a users “real” life?

Just like real life chess and card games in which you battle other real world players, Video games can bring people into social situations, and possible develop social skills. I’ve had people come over my house only to play a video game with me. But this isn’t the same case with MMORGPS, or massive multilayer online role playing game. The social benefits you can gain from an MMORGP are limited, the only beneficial social interaction comes from communication outside the realm of users required integration to achieve a common goal, which if you’ve played one of these games you would know is very uncommon and unsubstantial.

Another type of personal benefit that a video game can offer is cognitive challenges, in which games provide cognitive benefits. Is there games that offer an array of difficult challenges? Yes. The most common examples of these challenging events include picking a choice during a demanding situation and picking paths based on information given to the user. The problem is that video games need to be challenging to actually be beneficial. When a game goes for a cinematic experience over actual intuitive and cerebral game play, it losses much of these types of benefits. When a game gives an option for an “easy mode” or even promotes “beating” the “easy mode” first(Gears of War and Xbox live achievements, I’m looking at you), it decrease the amount of benefits one receives early on in the lifetime of the game. Now when a game is challenging, possibly more challenging than real life, can it still be as addictive? I personally feel that to be true. The games can become more addictive because of the thrill of the challenge. Then, that case at least, the game is not addictive because it is easier than life.

Video games are currently being used for therapy, Particularly the Wii with physical recovery. Also games like Brain Age are being used for casual therapy. Simple games, particularly PC applications are being used in rehab clinics. These games are usually lacking in plot, and justification for actions in the game. These include games that focus on response time, and often build of a simple concept. The most commonly used video game for therapy builds of this concept: a light flashes, you push a button. Other games build off this concept, A patient should only push the button when the light is red, while other colors are in the cycle of flashes. Another game concept that is used flashes numbers rather than lights. I have seen this concept implemented in many different ways. A user would only push a button if the numbers on screen are odd or, in another version, even, the speed could be varied, and other tasks could be thrown into the mix. But could video games be used for psychological therapy rather than just cognitive therapy? I’ve never really seen that type of therapy involve video games. If Video games could cause psychological problems, shouldn’t they be able to fix some? The answer is yes. So how would they work? Well I’ll try to give an example, lets say someone has a self-image problem, or a unhealthy definition of what their role is as a parent, male, female, or spouse. A game could portray what there the proper definition of what their respective role is, just as role-playing is used in clinical therapy.

All forms of media (paintings, pictures, music, books, dancing, movies, and television) have had points where certain publications have been considered by some to be damaging to society. All of these, except for maybe paintings, have yet to establish a permanent definition on what is “going too far” in their respective medium. As time goes on this definition is expanded to cover more graphic material. Now is this expanding definition the thing that needs to be controlled, or is it the final destination of what should be obscene be what needs to be controlled.

Now looking specifically at video games. Looking at past games like Grand Theft Auto, I think to my self, wow this caused this much controversy, it seems so innocent. Did Manhunt 2 Permanently define what an Adult Only game is? Now their isn’t a doubt in my mind that if Rockstar had waited and summited Manhunt 2 in four years to be rated, rather than this year, it would only receive a Mature rating(assuming that the ESRB would still be around), but now that Manhunt 2 defined what a game with an AO rating is, will “Freedom of speech repressing” activist for extensive Video game censorship use this rating as precedent?

How much of an affect do you think games have on society. Do you think games have a strong influence of what some Americans choose to do in their life? Video games have played a large role in defining America as it is today. Although I haven’t looked up the actual numbers, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of living Americans, have actually played, or seen someone play a video game. Video games have been around for 2 generations. Both my parents played video games; My dad played games like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Pacman. My mother told me she used to go to friends houses and play Pong before school. As for me, as long as I can remember we had a video game console at my house. Because of video games have been present in much of my life, it’s safe to say that they played the same role in influencing me as movies, television and radio.

Video games, Like other forms of media have the power to educate. In elementary school, we would often go to the computer lab and play educational games, Mario Teaches Typing, and Gizmos & Gadgets come to mind. Video games, like books, have the power to take us to “new worlds”, to take users outside the realms of reality to take us to places that only can be imagined. Games like Brain Age can help preserve such illnesses as Alzheimer’s. Games that require decision making can help develop or improve real life decision making; the same with other forms of education development, such as pattern recognition and puzzle solving.

Video Games have the same “power to manipulate” people as all other forms of media do. A lot of people in the media make is look like video games have an uncontrollable grasp of influence on kids today, and that’s why it needs to be extensively regulated. Even portions of the government recognize Video Games, artistic presents in America. Video Games have archived in the library of congress. Although it may not seem like a big deal, the addition of Video Games to the Library of congress definitely confirms the fact that video games did influence America, and confirms the notion that Video Games in terms of an art should be viewed as valid as books or music.

Do you think there is a double standard when in comes to games and let’s say movies? Manhunt 2 was designed to be like a horror movie, yet with movies with roughly the same amount of violence are allowed by law to have a wider audience. Is it because the user takes a role in carrying out the virtual violent acts? When you think about it, movies and television have been linked to even more killings than Video Games, even if you look at movies since video games became present. From MTV to CNN, it wouldn’t even surprise me if the percentage of viewers to actual acts of violence was higher for television and movies than video games.

No form of media is an island. All current incarnations of forms of media have been influenced by another form of media. I’m sorry if the following doesn’t seem that perceptive and intellectually stated, but it’s needed to make the point. Except for the original song by cavemen, all forms of music have been influenced buy a song they heard before, it is the same in style or merely influenced by establishing a concept of rhythm. To have a song widely heard would definitely spawn more music. Music had played a large role in video games, specifically the presents of soundtracks, But video games have also played a role in music, one of the most obvious example Lil’ Flip’s Game Over. The Tetris and Mario Theme has been permanently embedded in the minds of millions. To think that that didn’t have an effect on the population’s understanding of music and rhythm is just silly.

Now when looking at movies and video games, the relationship is a bit more obvious. You look at the cinema like qualities of recent games it obvious they were the result of films. The concept of emphasizing story telling for video games was most likely the result of users wanting a complexly structured series of events like those they have been given in Movies. Do to early video games having large technical restraints, comics have had a large affect on video games as comic like characters and comic like cut scenes were easy options for developers. Paintings to, If it wasn’t for video games, I can confidently say that their would not be such a strong presents of people, particularly kids, drawing Hentai. What happens to those kids, they become are nations top artist.

I only gave a few examples of relations for cross-media influence. The fact is that there is a lot more to it than just a few examples. What I’m getting at is video games have more influence in media than the actual games themselves; The influence of games has extended to all forms of media.

When Video games truly have a strong influence over many lives, but how much do they really have? In many cases video game are used as a scapegoat because Video Games influence can easily be stated as the cause of peoples actions, for bad driving, shootings, and other violent behavior. Before the Virgina Tech shooter was even identified, Jack Thompson blame video games as the cause, just as vidoe game are blamed for other events. Now I’m not going to waste all of your time talking about Jack Thompson, I’ll do that in a later post. But from Jack Thompson’s actions after the Virgina Tech shootings, you can clearly see that video games are used as an scapegoat based on little or no reality.

In cases were some kid shoots up some people were some people say its because of something he saw in a video game, although may have been imitating something he saw in a game, it’s not the sole fault of the Video Game publisher, but the fault of the parents who either bought them, or allowed them to some how play these types of game. These people who preform these violent actions obviously have some psychological problem, no one goes and shoots up a large number of people just because he saw something similar to it in a video game or a movie. Anti-video game activist claim that video games give players a false reality that players must accept, but no one truly believes that they can jump 4 time their hight and spit balls off fire as Mario does, unless they are in-fact psychologically impaired.

Video games have truly had influence on the what Amarica is today, It’s absolutely undeniable. The reason “activist” try to repress the violence and sex in video games is because video games themselves have such a strong influence on what society will be. To censor a form of media, is to censor a nation, to censer a nation is to restrict what the nation is.

It is important that we recognize this influence that video games have over us as a nation and as a person, whether its choosing how much we play them, how much we believe they represent reality, and how we let them change are ourselves.

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23 Responses to “Game Influence”

  1. [...] Mike Fahey wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIn August of 2005 two incidents happened that demonstrate the negative effects of video game addiction. The first, a four-month-old daughter of a South Korean couple died after her parents played World of Warcraft at an Internet cafe … [...]

  2. nicko says:

    video games don’t affect people like they say but they can think what ever they want to think if u want to know what it is like then find out for urself then!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Kuefler says:

    nicko said,

    video games don’t affect people like they say but they can think what ever they want to think if u want to know what it is like then find out for urself then!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I put evidence it what I said. You fail to even make a point.

  4. Gamer says:

    Kuefler said,

    I put evidence it what I said. You fail to even make a point.

    Seriously Kuefler, research done about videogame influence is constantly contradicting itself it is like saying that death metal leads you to suicide or to killing priests.

  5. Kuefler says:

    Gamer said,
    March 23, 2008 at 11:46 am · Edit

    Kuefler said,

    I put evidence it what I said. You fail to even make a point.

    Seriously Kuefler, research done about videogame influence is constantly contradicting itself it is like saying that death metal leads you to suicide or to killing priests.

    What is like saying metal leads you to suicide or to killing priests?

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