Saturday, August 19, 2006

E-Violence is A-Ok

Keep in mind, this is a blog. It's opinion not fact. One might expect an informed opinion but I consider that entirely optional. What I'm going to say here is what I think is the case because it makes sense to me, not because some insubstantial statistics back it up. Like the ancient Greeks I have no qualms about reaching conclusions through simple logic. Empirical data is over-rated.

Ok, well maybe I don't need to resort to Colbert-esque "Truthiness" to justify my espousal. I should be able to fall back just fine on the excuse that empirical data (meaningful data that is) is often pretty hard to come by. Sure we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that water flows downhill, but how much data can we actually accumulate to prove that violence in media increase violence in the person viewing it? I'll leave the wishywashyness of "proof" of such matters for a different tirade and for now just stick to getting on the topic at hand. The data I'll be using is just my personal observations of humans being human.

Violent video games are not responsible for violent behavior. Primarily I say this because all games are definitively separate from life. They can act as practice for life, but that's not to say that what you do in play is preparation to do the same things in life. The concepts of in-game activities and in-life activities do have a connection but it's abstractly ciphered in transit from one to the other.

The football player, in playing football, learns strength and determination and can apply that to life. He's not applying his throwing and tackling skills to life. I be he hardly throws and tackles in his every day life at all.

So why expect something different from the kids who play a game about soldiers shooting each other? There is no difference. Why? Because ALL games, from the dawn of humanity have been simulation of the same 3 themes.

Fighting, Chasing, and Resource Managment.

Think of any sport or board game. They all revolve around the combination of these concepts. Why these concepts? Because those are the things we, as animals, need to do to live. Many sports are physically violent. Hell, a game of Hearts can by psychologically violent. But the activities are kept in a frame and the rules provide a structure and also a goal that the player is handed over to. In real life that structure doesn't exist, nor does the clearly defined goal.

Such a frame could be artificially constructed in a person's mind, however only through mild psychosis. Perhaps if someone's life literally was playing games they would adopt the mindset of the game in their outside, the way a career businessman completely absorbed in being Mr. Big-Shot CEO will handle all of his problems, even personal ones, with a businesslike approach.

But the Boxer doesn't go around punching everyone just because (Mike Tyson not withstanding... Again, psychosis doesn't count). However, if he needed to punch someone he'd be VERY well prepared to do so. Likewise, if the Counterstrike junkie needed to gun down some terrorists... Using a mouse and keyboard, that is... He'd have much better hand-eye coordination than the average Joe. But being capable of something doesn't give you new reasons to do it (unless you're just looking for attention, Mr. "I can open a beer bottle with my armpit!").

Now the only thing is... Violent video games let you play at things that other games haven't allowed for. Althetes may hit each other plenty, and other games may focus on deceit and betrayal and predatory bloodthirsty instinct, but video games actually let you shoot people in the face. The abstract concept is focused down into a very concrete cause/effect. This is a difference, but a subtle and somewhat complex one.

I've proposed that games do no inspire behavior but they do allow for a level of expertise to form. Well with such graphic depictions of horrific things (such horrific things which have always been implied in games is now actually portrayed). The expertise this gives the game, unfortunately, is a strong stomach against things that should be repulsive.

So like a boxer who happens to be a psychotic rapist is aided by his strength gained from boxing, the gamer who HAPPENS to be unhinged and in the mood to strike vengeantly at the bullies of his highschool will be aided by having practiced taking life.

Yeah, that's what I said, and I still say that there's nothing wrong with the games. Like any item or activity it is their ABUSE that becomes a problem. In normal use these games provide a fantastic diversion that could even be an outlet to do things one would never do in real life. But these experiences can be abused by someone who has become psychologically unstable due to MANY factors in their life.

Blaming an object for a person's behavior remains ridiculous. I could crush your skull with a rock. Rocks greatly enhance one's ability to crush skulls. Can't censor or restrict rocks, no matter how much we want to. (And man I really really want to.
Damn dirty rocks.)


Disseminated said...

Well... I've slept on it, and I'm still 98% dissappointed in this article.

I must amend my approach.

Kris said...

I liked it...