Ah yes, the greatest danger of the 21st century, responsible for the most violent behaviours, the supreme source of all violence.
If you had not read the title you would probably have thought of something completely different. That is because you, like many others, are a person of culture as well (Arakawa Under the Bridge reference). Unless you have just emerged from a cave and have somehow very rapidly acquired the necessary knowledge of the Internet to access this blog post, you have probably heard this before. “Video games cause violence.” But do they? In this blogpost I will briefly explain why according to me (and a few other sources and many other people) that statement is false. In the process I might or might not make sarcastic remarks about people who have uttered it in the past. You’ll only find out by reading until the end…
First of all, video games are awesome, at least most of them are (I’m looking at you, Fortnite*). I (and probably many others) think a lot of people who say that they cause violence are mostly motivated by fear of the unknown. If you think about it, that is a normal human trait. The problem is that those who act according to this instinct and bash against video games are, in most cases, people who have very limited knowledge of the subject matter. To make it worse, most of them are adults, and as such should theoretically filter what they say a little more than insecure teenagers (right, Trump?). Other people gave the infamous claim a little more thought and research, and have arrived to the conclusion that it is actually false. So I did some digging on websites for smart people and found quite a bit of evidence that proves the supporters of “video games cause violence” wrong. As Professor Andrew Przybylski said: “The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time. Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”** Here he highlights how people who were concerned are people from older generations. Many from the generation of policy-makers are not that well versed in technology (there are of course very big exceptions), and probably do not play video games on a regular basis, if at all. Unfortunately, this causes them to be oblivious of the many dimensions this form of media might have. In fact, in the same article as the above quotation, video games are praised: “Not to mention we have all the counter studies that actually show that playing video games has clear cognitive benefits, so it really is about time that video games were no longer demonized as the cause for all of society’s woes and accepted for what they are.”***
There are plenty of non-violent video games, as there are many that are actually useful for educational purposes and can serve as complementary to mandatory education. As the saying goes: “there is an app for that”, and in some cases there is also a video game. They are an extremely versatile and interactive form of media, and have a very wide array of functions that offer countless opportunities. There are video games for interacting online with friends (and/or random strangers) and collaborate towards an objective, there are others where you can make amazing designs and even artworks or models of real-life technology, and others where you dance until all your muscles ache but you have finally memorized all the moves of that one super difficult song (and can finally brag to your friends about it). Yes, then there are also games with more negative aspects, such as violent shooters, and those that you play if you have run out of salt**** at home (because that’s all you’ll get). But video games can really teach important skills, like teamwork, communication, coordination, logical thinking, adaptability, and random russian curse words.
I would like to conclude by saying that video games are a very complex media and yes, sometimes they may be violent, but they are not the reason why people go around shooting their peers or bomb other countries. Violence, war and bloodshed have existed for millennia, video games have not. They can actually be used as a means of teaching people that doing their best and collaborating and helping others will ultimately get them a lot farther than violence ever will.
Thanks for reading.
Peace out xx
Notes and references:
* (Necessary apology to Fortnite: it’s not so terrible, but most of those who play it now are spoiled 10-years old who won’t stop yelling and should not be allowed to play it in the first place)
*** (same as **)
For further reading: