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Is Simulating Carnage Provoki Essay, Research Paper

In recent times, numerous violent acts have been committed by children in America, and society found it necessary to immediately find the causes to such bewildering tragedies. Whether it was the media, parental neglect, mental or physical abuse, availability of guns, or violence on TV, parents and political officials had to find a scapegoat. So far the most sought after suspect of causing aggressive behavior in children has been videogames. With young children playing these violent games, many assume that the videogame console automatically desensitizes their perspective of violence. Politicians are going after the gaming industry with new law proposals such as age requirements and ridiculous rating systems. However very few of these anti-videogame protesters realize that these awesome interactive systems have benefits too. It is very difficult to notice these qualities in videogames since it is overshadowed by the presence their violent content. Videogames are underestimated in that they have many advantages that are overshadowed by the ignorance of the adult generation towards new technology.

There is only one reason why one would blame videogames for being a major factor in teenage violence. The child sees the violent acts on the monitor and presumes that it is appropriate in real life. Is this really the case? Does every child who plays videogames attack his classmates or even bring a gun to school with the intent of murder? It is obvious that this is not the case, because the number one influence in a child s life is his or her parents, not James Bond types shooting down the bad guys. It is more likely that violent behavior is caused by such factors as parental neglect or abuse. For example, most kids who play videogames are rational enough to be able to distinguish between reality and multi-pixeled images. If videogames were so dominating in a child s psyche wouldn t their be a much higher ratio between those playing videogames and those committing violent acts? Doug Lowenstein, President of Interactive Digital Software Association states, Violent videogames have become a scapegoat for society s ills. The problem is that these recent incidents are so tragic the people need to believe there is a solid factor they can point the blame on. Many adults who have never even played a video game blame the industry because it is much easier for them than to evaluate their own selves as parents.

The gaming industry has been thriving since the late 1970 s because children and adults find them very entertaining. Both non-violent and violent games can be pleasurable, and they are just another form for people to relieve stress that is built up during the day. Henry Jenkins, director of comparative media studies at the prestigious MIT university, thinks videogames provide an outlet for children to release their natural, violent tendencies. We cant make social policy based on the statistical aberrations of a handful of abnormal kids. Should we ban the bible if we want something that causes a killing motive? The point is that we have a very pessimistic view of parents if we believe they have no control over the mindset of their children. The parent is responsible for teaching his/her child to distinguish between right and wrong, fantasy and reality. If the child is incapable of doing this than so many factors other than videogames can lead him to violence, such as television, media, books, and even peers.

Moreover, because videogames are attacked constantly for only forcing violence into young children, their benefits are hardly seen. So many advantages have come out of video entertainment that people don t bother to notice since violence is what dominates their views. Most games don t even have any violent characteristics, but this is the stereotype that has been assigned to them. One example of computer games benefiting children occurred in a Southern California Junior High School. The school just bought a few new computers, which were pretty exotic contraptions for their time, around 10 years ago. The kids that never were quite up to par in the ordinary lessons rapidly surpassed their expected level in a few month by playing the math and reading incorporated games that were installed on the computers. These kids were not intimidated by the computers as they would have been in a classroom that inhibited their progressive learning. One student who did exceptionally well while odds were against him stated, You see all the kids here call me retard. The computer calls me Raymond. Videogames give children more self-confidence and self-respect because the children accomplish things on their own through interactive adventures.

In today s period of rapid technological developments, the careers of the future are changing at the same pace. More and more jobs are geared in the hi-tech direction. Children learn technology first hand through computers and video game consoles. They help children learn the technology that is in tomorrows job market. Tom Kalinske, former president and CEO of Sega America, Inc. and now a part of Educational Technology, LLC, said that 96 % of Sega s workforce at R&D played videogames when they were children. Videogames help children think technologically. Whether they are playing around on the computer trying to get the game to work or plugging wires into the back of their television, the children are experiencing technology first hand.

Other then the immense technological knowledge that children gain from videogames, mental benefits that are geared towards their futures are present too. For example, in many videogames there are puzzles and mazes, adventures that test survival skills, and quick-thinking aspects as well. Critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and problem solving are all requirements in many videogames. All of which are key skills for academic success. Those that have violent content usually have these quality s too. Another thing is that Videogames are designed by smart people and are usually difficult to beat. They offer a challenge. Some take as much as 50 100 hours to complete, and take great effort, time, and thinking to succeed in.

Besides the academic and career benefits that videogames provide, the social advantages can be seen among children too. Children love to play videogames together with friends. Put a few kids together with a brand new video game and they will have a great time. Even if they are not friends they can connect and enjoy themselves through the entertainment that the system provides. The fact that a video game gives self-confidence to a child through a world where he or she can control and manipulate whatever they wish helps additionally. Socially, videogames help a child to identify and belong, to earn respect and admiration kids who may be better athletes, or more socially polished, or can multiply six digit numbers in their heads.

One game in particular that has been on the market for almost 2 years now and still continues to thrive around an impressive community is Tribes. When Tribes was first released by Dynamix-Sierra, players had no idea how much the game would evolve around its fans. The videogame seems like a typical FPS (first person shooter), where the monitor displays the player through their point of view, but is really more complex. The average parent who sees their child playing a game like this would immediately jump to the stereotypical conclusion that the game is all about shooting other players with rendered guns. And this perspective is the same for almost any game that includes some violence. However, if they sat with their child they might realize that a game like Tribes could easily be compared with a game of soccer or even chess.

Tribes is multiplayer only, meaning that it is necessary for 2 or more human players to participate in a game. This is mostly done through the internet or networked computers. The goal of the game is simplistic: the team who first brings the enemy flag back to their own flag a certain number of times wins the match. However, there are so many strategies involved with wide varieties of terrain, vehicles, armors, weapons, and numerous other aspects of the game. Things like radar and fog have to be taken in perspective whether coordinating an offensive strike or defending the flag. Ordinary games are rampant through the internet where 10 player teams discuss strategies that can help to win the match. Each weapon can be compared to a piece on a chessboard. If you need move diagonally across the board, then you would use the bishop. Certain weapons need to be strategically used at different times. Players use different armors the same way on a soccer field a bigger defensemen can hold his position, but is not as agile as the lighter, more swift players who are more likely to play offense. The game requires constant thinking, awareness, and team cooperation.

The OGL (On-line Gamers League) hosts a ladder where over 200 teams compete weekly. Most of the teams have practice at least 2 to 3 times a week, much like a soccer team. Bryan Miller, an OGL administrator, loves his work. Without coordination and strategies perfected, teams have no chance in winning their matches. While some teams prefer hard work, others may chose to simply play for fun and subside on the competitive edge. This league is fun for everyone. The only difference between Tribes and sports like football or soccer is that Tribes is not physical, but mental. The videogame may not improve the player s physical fitness, but the mind is constantly being challenged and exorcised.

The adult generation had absolutely no experience with this type of entertainment when they were their children s age. They won t be able to understand videogames with their children as they would playing catch or fixing the porch. Parents are intimidated by the fact that their children are using this technology and mastering it faster than they are able to. This is partly the reason why videogames are being blamed for violence, since people fear what they are not familiar with. With a game like Tribes, a parent could never realize how in-depth the game really is until they are willing to accept it and see past any insignificant violent content. If the parent actually attempts to sit with their child and analyze the video game they might actually enjoy it too.

The video game is not the first form of entertainment to be pressured by this type of criticism. From the first radio shows of the 20s to the Rock and Roll era, there has always been something that adults could blame degradation of morality on. Every media revolution has brought something for parents to blame on why their children s behavior is different from their own. Videogames are just the latest to take subjective criticism. They take much criticism for the adult generation being ignorant to its technology and the violent content triggers an instinctive reaction because of their unfamiliarity. Take Tribes for example, which can completely be viewed as a simple shootem up video game. Yet when analyzed further it is obvious that there is more depth to it. People who are inexperienced with one thing should take the time to evaluate what they are judging, and entertainment forms like videogames would be more appreciated.

Works Cited

1 Grapes, Bryan J. Violent Children. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000.

Discusses the different sides of the major issues in today s society of mass media and the factors that influence children to potentially be violent

2 Levine, Madeline. Viewing Violence. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

About the violence in today s generation and its causes/preventions.

3 McGuckin, Frank. Violence in American Society. New York: H.W. Wilson Co. 1998

Informative about the ongoing violence in today s American type society.

4 Schwartz, Ted. Kids and Guns. New York: Grolier Publishing

The relationships between children and weapons and why they use them.

5 Wekesser, Carol. Violence and the Media. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 1995

How media is a factor in the violence we see today.

6 Quittner, Joshua. Are Videogames Really So Bad? Time Magazine May 10, 1999 pp. 50-59

Discusses the pros to videogames and how they are overlooked.

7 Hateley, Trevor. Starsiege Tribes Review. 1/12/99 3D Gaming Magazine.

Reviews the video game Starsiege Tribes and how it is mostly based on teamwork.

8 Cesarone, Bernard. Videogames and Children. 1994. Eric Digest

http://ericeece.org/pubs/digests/1994/cesaro94.html

The different views on videogames and why parents are fighting the industry

9 Rivera, Ricardo. Violence in Videogames: Another perspective. http://netdial.caribe.net/ orinoco/videogames.html

A different view about video gaming and its pros.

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