Games have been a ubiquitous part of our culture since time immemorial.
So THE USA TODAY posted an article on 9.15.2011 about a study regarding the connection between violent video games and violent players. It was conducted by Villanova University professor Patrick Markey, and was picked up by Kotaku the very next day, who added some interesting things to the conversation. So here are some deets, and my take:
According to Markey in THE USA TODAY, “Video games are not simply good or bad for everybody,” he says. “But for some individuals who have certain dispositions, if they play video games they’re much more likely to be negatively affected.”
Markey co-authored a study that was published in the Review of General Psychology, and was also presented at an American Psychological Association meeting. His data includes responses collected in 2009 from 118 participants, and in the study half of them played violent games and the other half played non-violent video games.
Personally, I feel that this distinction is a hard one to make, and I would love to get my hands on the list of games used for the study. Even games like Pokemon or Critter Crunch are embedded with violence, but it is minor and certainly overshadowed by fatalities, pimp slaps and head shots.
One of the things gamers have had to deal with for quite a while now is the perception of violence portrayed in video games and how it might affect the gamers. This is a question which has been raised time and time again; when film was introduced folks were worried how it would affect the youth, television came out and the same debate raged, heck, even comic books took a hit and created their own self-governing and regulatory tool, the Comics Code Authority, that worked to sanitize and scrub the offending violence out of the comics, making the suitable for youth. But can you truly take the violence out of a cultural product? Isn’t it produced by culture, and therefore simply inseparable from the very environment in which it was created?
Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! Although this may be old news to some, many of you might not know about this Gizmodo article by Alyssa Bereznak and her now famous date with a world champion Magic: the Gathering player, Jon Finkel. To further elaborate, Mr. Finkel is a top-level player of said fantasy trading card game (MTG for short), and even had a card printed with his likeness. Now throughout this article Ms. Bereznak desperately tries to soften us up by leading with factoids such as: she was drunk and signed up for OKCupid, an online dating site, she is a nerd so it’s cool to trash other nerds, and she is judgmental. Okay, point(s) taken, but this article truly made me angry. Not throw-a-television-through-a-plate-glass-window angry, more like a slight gnashing-of-teeth-and-rolling-of-the-eyes angry.
I mean, I consider myself a nerd, I really do, especially in light of this particular game, which I have been playing intermittently for over 15 years. I find that the players are quite diverse; some are business owners, some are lawyers, teachers, librarians, older, younger, even a girl or two, you name it. And I understand that her article was to be considered a treatise on how shallow we can be, especially when it is one nerd judging another. But Finkel? He’s a super nerd, a nerd god. I mean, a WORLD CHAMP? Do you even know how much these folks can earn playing a game? I am sure she wouldn’t look down her nose at a World Poker Champ, or someone who just won 100K playing pool, or bowling, so what is the deal? She even said this: “One person’s Magic is another person’s fingernail biting, and no profile in the world is deep enough to account for that.” So she wants online profiles to encapsulate everything about a person, every quirk, each foible, all of the diverse things you may be into, or do, should be listed. That is an insane idea, there is no way you could (or would want to) list everything in what should be a snapshot of yourself. The whole point is for people to be intrigued, to want to get to know you better, to fill in those mysterious gaps themselves. That’s the relationship part of the whole thing. Why even spend time with someone you already know EVERYTHING about? Where’s the fun in that?