Casual Games 7 Reasons The News Doesn't Want You Playing Video Games  

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Violence, anti-social behavior, sexual predators... video games have been blamed for a lot since they've been around, kind of like how people used to blame droughts on witches. The news often makes a correlation between video games and the rise of school shootings, stabbings, child abductions and addictions. There is much that they can be blamed for, but is it always the games fault? Answer: no. Here's a list that explores these arguments.

There are a lot of positive aspects to the use of video games, but more often than not, they are blamed for way more than they should be.

Listed below are some of the top reasons why the news doesn't want you to play video games, as well as some helpful suggestions on how you can both play your games and live your life.

Video Games Cause Addiction

Click the picture above for the news report

What They're Saying:
Did you know that if you play video games, you can become addicted? It's true. Like cigarettes, alcohol and hardcore drugs, video games are addicting. It's the game's fault and it's torn apart families, like the one in the news report above.

It can even lead to news organizations asking you about how tragic of a victim you are of an evil video game that made you lose touch with your kids, husband and finances. It also may lead to camera crews filming you while you drink tea and stare out a window like a storm is coming and it's the 1800s.

This has been a hot button topic throughout the years, especially as MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games)have become more popular. These types of games require massive amounts of time and dedication. It becomes easy to not only lose track of time, but also forget other obligations. Because of this it is easy to see why they come under scrutiny -- because people like scapegoats.

Why It's B.S.:
I'm not saying that video game addiction is not a valid concern, but like other things that are addictive, moderation is the key.

For people who exhibit an addictive personality, this could really be any substance. The news report even explicitly says that this is all part of a new disorder that's peaking its head called "internet addiction". So it's not even games, it's just a new way to blame a new thing that makes people feel awesome (like drugs, alcohol) for people's chemically imbalanced addictive personalities.

There are plenty of resources out there to help someone, or the friends and family of addicts. And while it's good that "internet addiction" is being recognized like other forms of addiction, it's always better to treat the disease (the addiction) than it is to blame the substances. Video games are not the root cause of the problem, because when it comes to non-chemical substances (like video games), addicts are. It's like the old saying goes...

This guy's shirt is actually the best argument for why video games themselves are not addictive.

Video Games Help Child Molesters Find Your Kids

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Video: YouTube
What They're Saying:
According to the media, since the Nintendo DS is made for children, and adults also use it, it's going to help molesters find your child.

The feature that has them all up in arms is called Pictochat. It allows up to 15 DS users to talk to each other via written text if they are within a certain range of each other.

This report seems to state that if you give your kid a DS, they will be sexually propositioned. Of course, they could have easily said, "If you let your children online, go to a friend's house, go to shool or go outside, they will be sexually propositioned."

Why It's B.S.:
Just the fact that someone can communicate with your child, doesn't mean that they are going to use it to molest them. In fact, chatting can be a good way for kids to learn social skills (but, of course, not the best way, but still, it helps). If a parent is worried that they cannot trust their child to not give out important information or get abducted, Nintendo has gone and done the parenting for them by providing a parental lock on all DS systems.

In the end, if you are concerned that your child is in danger, you should talk to them. Let them know that they should be careful who they talk to online. Monitor your child's DS activity closely (much like you should be doing with all of their online activity up to a certain age) and everything really should be fine.

Of course there are always edge cases, but it's hardly easier for someone to do this using a DS than it is for someone who's looking to be on To Catch A Predator using Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms or any other form of easily-monitored communication that everyone uses.

Video Games Are Murder Simulators, Training Murderers

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Video: YouTube
What They're Saying:
First of all, remember when Counter Strike was huge? Crazy. Anyway, violence in video games has long been under protest and glamorized by the news. Jack Thompson is one of the top opponents to all things video games. One of the leading concerns is that violence in video games not only desensitizes children to real life violence, but it does in fact train them to cause it as well.

From Columbine to Virginia Tech, games are at the top of the list when it comes to the cause of school shootings in news reports. It seems that without these games in the world, we would be living in a utopia.

Why It's B.S.
Multiple acts of violence that have been committed by kids and adults have been attributed to video games throughout the years. But similar acts have been attributed to whatever medium is currently available at the time that psychopaths happen to be interested in. The Son of Sam killer was found with a copy of Catcher in the Rye in his possession, and rebellion used to be blamed on Rock music.

People are more and more unlikely to blame their kids and admit that socially or psychologically, something is missing for them. Something important. And it doesn't matter whether they play Halo, Counter Strike, read J.D. Salinger, listen to KISS or watch My Little Pony, if their social circumstances remain the same, and their problems aren't addressed, something terrible is bound to happen.

Saying that video games train people on shooting guns is like saying that video games train people to eat food off the street.

As many people have pointed out while making this exact argument, if these news reports hold water, then why was there violence before video games? It must be because of violent songs, or movies, or books right? It surely can't be that we, as humans, have a violent nature to us when exposed to certain negative factors in our social/psychological upbringing. There has to be something to blame besides upbringing and parental responsibility. Right?

The problem with blaming video games for all of these atrocities is that there are plenty of people who play them and are not effected at all. In fact, I would venture to say that violent games can be seen as a benefit as they allow one to release these urges in a safe environment as opposed to keeping them tanked up inside.

The % of people who play violent video games and act on that violence is most likely far less than the % of people who have watched an episode of Friends and own a gun. Can we, then, say that Friends, the TV show, causes people to want to buy guns? No. Correlation doesn't equal causation, and this is something that the news LOVES to scare parents with.

Could they BE any more wrong?

Video Games Are "Bad" for Your Social Skills

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What They're Saying:
The main concern is that people spend more time playing by themselves than with others, even when it comes to MMORPGs. The other concern is that with the excessive use of games, people will not seek out others. (This can also be seen in the Addiction part of the list.)

According to this douchebag, if you're over the age of 30 then you shouldn't be playing video games at all. You should be focusing on other things like raising a family and making money. While these are valid objectives that should be sought after, the mere act of playing video games is not going to set people off of it.

If this guy were brought to Neverland, he'd become a pirate.

Why It's B.S.
Once again, the way to abate this fear is through moderation. Make sure to step away from the computer or console every once in a while. Kind of like before video games, or even TV, when parents would tear their kids away from reading to go outside and play (a problem that we have effectively, eternally, solved -- unfortunately).

This issue has been raised and ref*ted many times (thanks!).

It seems that there are two different camps when it comes to the debate of whether video games help or hinder people's social growth.

Many reports have come out saying that video games actually cause children, who were otherwise loners (and even children with autism) to become more social through the use of online multiplayer and get together co-ops.

Of course for every positive, there are a few negatives. And people like this guy on the Today Show make a living out of exploiting those negatives into unfounded (well, misguidedly-founded) fears that translate to ratings and book deals.

Video Games Increase Rape

What They're Saying:
There was a story recently about a game called Bulletstorm.

In the game there are combos that can be performed that are creatively named, some of which are sexual in nature. This launched a full-on examination into how video games like this have caused instances of rape to rise, statistically.

The main proponents of this point toward people becoming desensitized to sex and rape by playing games that simulate sexual situations, therefore making rape okay in their minds. Games like Mass Effect and God of War have come under the same scrutiny over the years for having simulated sex scenes.

Why It's B.S.:
The problem with these allegations is that most of the people who make them have never even played the games, and therefore have no context of situation.

None of the ones mentioned so far even allow the player to actually simulate sex at all. (The closest is God of War, where you press buttons to pleasure some off-camera ladies and hear noises but never actually see the act. And c'mon, in the game, you're a literal God.)

This, once again, is just another way of the news is taking an older scare tactic, and bringing into the modern age. Before video games were causing rape, it was sexually explicit movies and books and art.

Here is a good counterpoint to the argument made by the article linked above:

In the end, as with most things on this list, there are people that could be affected by these types of games, but for the vast majority of the population, there should be no cause for concern and these video games shouldn't be demonized because if it were a different time, it could have been books. Media itself isn't responsible for any cultural wrongdoings, at least not directly, and treating something as a cause based on such loose correlation isn't just irresponsible research, but downright negligent journalism.

Video Games Teaches Kids How to Torture

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Video: YouTube
What They're Saying:
There are games out there that teach children how to torture people.

There are a few games online that have been created to show a crude rag doll strung up, and that allow people to do various horrible things to it. Then there are games that allow people to kick an old lady, or a prostitute to death. This is teaching kids that not only is torture okay, but it is showing them graphic images that are basically going to make them into the next Jigsaw:

"Did you know that if you set a waypoint in GTA, that you can get to your destination faster?"

Why It's B.S.
I wonder where these people were when little boys would take their sister's Ken dolls and strap fireworks to their backs, or melt their army men with a magnifying glass. Things like this have been around for years.

To say that games children how to torture someone is a bit of a stretch though. It is like saying that Star Fox teaches kids how to be pilots or Operation teaches kids how to be surgeons. It's a ridiculous statement. Torturing people is really, really hard. And so is killing people. It takes a lot of strength, planning and athleticism, which yes, does sound like a glorification of murder, but have you ever tried wrestling with your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend? It's hard. Like, really really hard. Imagine if they were fighting for their lives. 100%'ing GTA IV is NOT going to prepare you to win that battle.

The game is mature, yes, but it is located on a site that has a parental warning on it. If you are concerned about your child's welfare, monitor their internet usage, set up blockers, or buy them the big games, made by ESRB rated studios/developers that won't have stuff that gory in them (for the most part).

Video Games Are Pro-War

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Video: YouTube
What They're Saying:
War games have been around since the inception of video games. As they have been progressing and games have been getting more realistic, people have started to become concerned that kids are not only learning to kill because of it, but that they are seeing military service as a Halloweenesque, fantasy practice that is exciting, heroic and amazing.

Everyone in the armed forces IS a hero, but kids should not be joining them based on a belief that going to war is "cool" or that killing people is "okay".

This is what some pundits are saying that video games are teaching. And it's disrespectful to those in the armed forces, as well us just plain wrong.

There have been numerous reports citing games like Halo and Modern Warfare as teaching kids skills like sniping. This is a ridiculous allegation. There is no way that anyone can play a game with a controller and automatically know how to utilze actual weapons. Sure, it can stroke an interest in warfare, and the army has been noted as using war games in their recruitment techniques, but one cannot think to go from playing on an XBox, to picking up a gun and knowing how to be precise with it.

Here is another news story about the issues with Pro-War video games:

The big thing that was covered in the video above is that now that games are starting to cover the current wartime situations, they are become detrimental to the troops. That video game companies are now profiting off of the current war. The biggest concern seems to also be that if gamers are allowed to play as current enemy combatants, they will begin to sympathize with them.

Why It's B.S.:
The whole argument is absurd.

Just because a person plays as a villain, doesn't mean that they'll start thinking like them. Helping children (and adults) entertainment and reality is the most important focal point of any argument against the loose correlation between any detrimental act, addiction or problem in our culture and video games.

Games like the Call of Duty franchise do a great job of showing the horrors of war, and if anything, they're acting like that old Driver's Ed video "Red Asphalt" (which features the goriest, most horrible things that can happen to you if you drive recklessly).

So, much like my parents did with me, when you get a child a violent video game, have a cheesy-seemingly unnecessary discussion with them about what's in the game, why it's wrong and make sure they know that.

I'm sure everyone of a certain age got that talk the first time their parents figured out what happened in Mortal Kombat, and with war games (and any games in general), the conversation should be no different.