Positive Gamers – PixelatedGeek Staff Responses

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family-playing-video-games-thumb9281634In response to Aaron’s article:

tl;dr – Blame the parents. Positive gaming exists. The media just likes to focus on anything to can shed a bad light on.

James M.:

Its hard to prove intent, but asside from Americas Army games, most devs aren’t in the biz of death. People and parents are the end all for responsibility. A game that teaches can be positive… dependent on message …. aka teaching intolerance etc. is an example of a BAD influence.

Raul:

Quite frankly, I do not believe so. To say games can cause people to hurt others is just a way bad parents excuse their kid’s delinquent behavior. The root of the cause can be traced back to negligent parents who don’t bother teaching their kids right from wrong or real from make believe. There was a time that parents didn’t want kids watching Power Rangers out of fear that it would make them violent and want to fight. Same finger pointing, new target.

I think gaming can teach many things. It is an interactive medium and can draw people in. A game with a positive message or moral can make a game more than just something people play.

More of our responses after the break.

Nelson:

I think the consensus will be “blame the parents.” Just like Cesar Millan says “you must set boundries.”

Yes. There are a lot of developers out there creating games that don’t have violence. Most of those games are puzzle type games, but it promotes problem solving. A good example of this is TAG. TAG isn’t a mini game like bejeweled. It’s a full on FPP (first person puzzle).

Matthew:

No more then watching superman makes a child don a cape and try to fly or watching mary poppins’ magic umbrella. Humans emulate what they see. The key is, is to make sure that parents make children understand the difference between reality and fantasy.

Games have the unique power of bringing people together. Families for generations played clue and monopoly and grew closer. Games can be used for positive things if applied appropriately.

Marie:

There are a lot of really good but violent games out there. Gaming companies are aware that their games are being pointed out by some as the cause for the violent behavior of kids.
But can those violent games still bring something positive? Of course! One of the recent games I started playing is a good example: Assassin Creed II
It can help develop observation and coordination skills. It has puzzles, so it makes you use your brains a little bit.  But if you look at the general concept of the game… you play an assassin… that kills innocent people in cold blood constantly.
Obviously noone wants their kids to become the next Altaïr or Ezio. That doesn’t mean the game companies have to stop making those games though… It just means that the parents need to educate their kids to know what’s right from wrong before they are subjected to these games.  But so little do…
In one of the cutscenes of AC2, Shaun Hastings (the british historian) has a discussion with Desmond (the protagonist).  He mentions that, even if they are trying to make things right, they are still assassins killing innocent human beings thinking that the ends jutify the means… and that it is not a good thing no matter how you look at it.
I can assume that Ubisoft went out of its way in that cutscene to make the player conscious that the act of killing is, no matter the circomstances, a bad thing.  They did it in a subtle but effective way in my opinion.  Maybe other companies could do the same?

James T.:

Honestly, you may as well ask this question about violent movies, violent stories, or even violent games, all forms of entertainment intimately tied to the human instinct for aggression. Throughout history, humans have engaged in violent entertainment, and increasingly developed parallels for real-life violence. Reading many of the ancient world’s myths reveals a degree of gruesome violence and combat fully the equal of all but the most depraved games- think of Beowulf tearing off Grendel’s arm, or Marduk splitting the body of Tiamat from head to toe with his club. Compared to the grand arena, video games seem to offer a far more abstracted way to satisfy our primal emotions.

Why violence? Violence is, in a certain sense, the most elemental form of conflict, and a basic form of competition or spectacle. You can’t have story without conflict, spectacle, or drama, so this leads naturally to violence as one of the easiest and most visceral ways to inject a bit of risk and excitement into a story. Since most games are, after all, a story or experiential activity, violence as a common component makes sense.

Since games’ reliance on violence isn’t anything new, and past generations of humanity didn’t frequently devolve into violent savages based on exposure to other simulations of violence in literature, it doesn’t seem any more reasonable to conclude that video games have some special power to convince mentally mature individuals to engage in violence. This is doubly true because of just how different real-life violence as opposed to the whitewashed, stylized violence that fills many games.

Ultimately, if someone’s exposure to violent video games resulted in their acting out violently, the fault is either theirs- because something was probably wrong with them already- or their parents’, if they were exposed to such violence during their formative years without the ability to separate fantasy violence from real violence.

Is there such a thing as positive gaming? What can be taught with video games to make it a positive?
Absolutely! Most game narratives, even violent ones, tend to place the player in a heroic role, because people are naturally drawn to admire and emulate heroic individuals. If you were to look at the entirety of games, despite the high visibility of controversial games such as Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row where the player steps into the shoes of a villainous protagonist, most games’ protagonists are classic heroes or antiheroes seeking to defeat evil and defend the defenseless. Not only is this convenient for the narrative, it’s also satisfying.

Much as literary protagonists can be sources of inspiration and emulation, so too can the heroes of various games. Games can admire and respect the steadfast determination of the Master Chief (of Halo) or Link (of Legend of Zelda) or the soul-searching and introspective inner journey of the Nameless One (of Planescape: Torment), Solid Snake (of Metal Gear Solid) or Cloud Strife (of Final Fantasy VII). For every blood-soaked monster striding his way through a field of corpses, the games’ industry has at least two positive role models as protagonists.

Games can also teach responsibility in some respects. In many games the player is given power to affect the futures of the game world’s inhabitants and improve or destroy their lives.