With all of the talk about video games coming back up again I wanted to write this diatribe. The ideas expressed here are backed by facts. With all of the violence in the world today and the history of video game violence and the blame laid on video games you might think that the advisors of our President would have “peeped” him to the fact that the studies performed by reputable organizations have shown and proven that (violent) video games do not make people violent. These studies have gone on for decades. (Video gaming has been around since the 1960’s).
I mention culture first before violence (see below) because there is a defining nature to the culture of video games. One’s background, meaning how they were raised, the factors that influence someone’s life, teacher and parent trainings, friends, family, Church, God, relationships with others socially, and a myriad of other factors all go into the “design” of any one human being. So in saying that…I never gave culture much thought outside of, in my head, thinking that there are gamers and there are non-gamers. Simply put: you do or you do not. I never gave much thought to how video games actually affect our society in all of the different ways that they do because there are so many different gaming genres. I mean video games are a definite mode of expression just as a religion or something along the lines of the Southern culture.
Video gaming displays a specific set of transmitted behavioral patterns. Of those types there is a breakdown of the different games one plays. I fit those into categories, as Frans Mayra alluded to in a paper she wrote (feel free to Google any of my references), LARP, Cosplay, MMORPG, and etc…(punks, mods, and skinheads), obviously not as
that, but you get the idea.
I appreciated the statement “culture should be seen as intersubjective domain of experience that takes shape in social relations”, because it sums up the different genres of the culture of games that have developed. Think about it, you have your Larpers, for example. This may not appeal to everyone, but there are specifics to it. In and of itself, it is a particular category, it is subjective to only certain “rules”, they have their own communities, and it goes deeper. Where it gets deeper is as Mayra states, each specific gaming culture has its own knowledge base. How the games are played, information gathering and sharing, and etc.
A classmate of mine at The University of Michigan mentioned how he grew up and how the gaming that he does is directly related to his specific background. He grew up in a sports oriented home and the games he plays are all sports related. That is a great definition of culture. It shows the “customs, norms, and ideas” that another student sited to me. This was obviously something he had learned and adopted from his environment growing up.
In the book “The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies”, I didn’t become engrossed into the chapter on culture alluded to above, but I appreciated more the views of Peter Krapp (no his views are not crap) on violence. His views paralleled mine so there IS a slight bias here. A research paper that I wrote for the University of Michigan about video games had me do quite a bit of research on the violence factor, and the studies I came across gave the same conclusion as the findings mentioned in Krapp’s essay. People speak about the “side effects” of gaming but typically in reference to something bad. I quote “Just as the history of the subjective shot in cinema cannot be reduced to making all audience members voyeurs, gaming cannot be reduced to a mere training mechanism.” It is not viable to think that gaming is the single most influential tool responsible for tragedies such as Columbine or any other lunatic’s rants and raves.
My brothers and I used to play the game of Risk growing up. This is a game of conquering the world. Dare I say that none of us grew up to become Adolf Hitler or to even show those tendencies. Many of our games, as noted in Krapp’s essay, are violent. I still hold that “violent games are a means to get aggression out of one’s system.” is a true and valid statement. When I was growing up, the last of five boys, I retained a lot of aggression that I needed to get out because, as the youngest, I was picked on a lot by my older brothers. To my decree I won a lot of Dodgeball games at school, but that wasn’t enough, I had a lot of energy to spare so I joined a Karate class. The fighting we did in the class helped me learn to hone my aggression and it taught me what was right and wrong about fighting. I do have to admit that, along those lines, the fighting done in class did desensitize me on a smaller level to fighting in general, but by no means do I go around picking fights or getting into them for absolutely no reason.
Violent video games and games in general are not the cause of mental instability. For a great read about what games can do for people, please feel free to read “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal. It is a really good book. See her Ted talk too that prefaces the subjects within the book. https://www.ted.com/speakers/jane_mcgonigal
As a last note, I have to admit, I also agree with the indication that a violent video game will increase aggression in someone (as some studies have also proven). I feel this in myself when I play certain games with increased violence (Call of Duty); however, I don’t go downstairs, kick the dog, slap my wife, and slam my kid into a corner. For me, I feel energized after a good firefight. My blood is pumping and, if successful in the game, I am typically in a really good mood. I’ll close this post with another line from Video Game Studies, “Just Dance-4…has not led to spontaneous dance-offs in the streets of America.”; although, I think that would be pretty cool to see.