The Christian Science Monitor
's Matthew Devereux has an interesting column
today on the video-games of today, one that asks some very interesting questions.
One of many dubious arguments against violence in video games is that children find it hard to distinguish between "real" and "virtual" situations.
If that's true, is CNN not a more pernicious peddler of unsavory material for kids? When kids turn on the TV and see footage of soldiers shooting each other for real, is there any substantial difference between that and playing a first-person shooter game?
Years ago, after the tragic shootings in Columbine, the news media were quick to lay blame at the game industry's door. Could they not as easily have turned that criticism on themselves?
What's surprising about the media's obsession with violence in games is that it overlooks more serious lapses in values. By concentrating on the bloodthirsty and dramatic, they're ignoring influences that are much more harmful to children long term.
He goes on to say:
What games risk instilling, not just in kids, but in anyone who plays them, is a kind of sociopathy: a dearth of conscience. Whether this might be imitated outside of gaming is beside the point. What we should be asking ourselves is if we really want to spend ever more time playing things that encourage these values. That's a moral question, one that's easily sidelined in favor of simply having fun, but it's something we all must consider as the pastime grows more popular.
I'm not calling for stricter regulation of the video-game industry. Rather, I hope to widen the debate to include issues that might not be considered if we believe the sensational, trivial hysteria of the media. By concentrating so heavily on the immediate (and short-term) effects of video-game violence, we're distracted from discussing more important moral dimensions. It's time for parents to stop asking what is appropriate for their children and to start asking what is morally right.
I find it interesting that he moves the argument beyond the violent nature of today's video games and into some larger questions--such as the idea that in all video games, there seems to be the attitude of winner-takes-all and you do whatever it takes to win the game , even if that means breaking or bending the rules. So long as you win and come out on top, the ends justify the means. And that winner-take-all attitude isn't just in the virtual video-game world. The NFL world was shaken earlier this year when it was revealed that Bill Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff were cheating to get ahead by videotaping the calls of the New York Jets. As the debate went on, a lot of people said, "Well, everyone does it...the Patriots just got caught." Which may or may not be true. As a Patriots' detractor, I find it easier to believe that a team and organization I have antipathy for would do such a thing as opposed to the coaching staff of the Titans or the Redskins.
The win-at-all-costs thing is even seen in baseball with the whole steroids and HGH controversy that continues to rage (and shows no signs of ever going away). Some argue that since using steroids wasn't illegal in baseball, why should anyone care? But they forget that such a thing was illegal by the law of the land, which in my book supercedes the rules and laws of any sport. But what we hear is that people want to get places faster or they want some kind of quick and easy short-cut to get there. So, they bend the rules or find loopholes to the rules to get ahead faster.
So, it brings up the question--does it matter about right or wrong? Or does it matter that you win?
posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/06/2008 11:04:00 AM