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August 13, 2006

In Defense of Video Game Violence

Liberals and conservatives rarely agree -- about anything. And, as a general rule, when liberals and conservatives do agree about something, you can be pretty sure they're both TOTALLY WRONG. Think about it: conservatives suck, liberals suck... the only thing stopping them both from being wrong ALL the time is the fact that they usually adopt contradictory positions. When a rare consensus occurs between these two warring tribes, one can confidently reject whatever premise both sides have agreed upon.

For instance, both liberals and conservatives agree that violent video games are causing irreparable harm to America's youth. They believe that violent games create violent kids... even when those "kids" are 38 years old and still live in their parents' basement. Personally, I think violent video games are harmless. I've played them my entire life and I haven't killed anyone. Yet.

However, I may have to reconsider my position on this. A recent study at Iowa State University proves that violent video games desensitize players to real-world violence. On the surface, this seems like a bad thing. If kids get desensitized to violence, they may start committing acts of violence. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't possible that one of these kids might do something violent to ME. That's not acceptable. So, I guess I should be against violent games. Yet... it just doesn't seem right to come out against something that has given me so much pleasure over the years.


After giving it some thought, I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing wrong with games that desensitize people to real-world violence. Face it: the world is a violent and horrible place. Murder, rape, torture... you can't turn on the news without hearing about one of the three. If America's youth could fully experience the horror of the world they were unfortunate enough to be born into, they wouldn't be able to cope. They'd all collectively dump rat poison into their Frosted Flakes and be done with it. THANK GOD violent video games exist. If simulated violence allows children to deal with the very real violence that predominates their existence, who are we to take that away from them?

This brings me to another point: Why are we focusing on the desensitizing effect that real violence has on video games when the REAL tragedy is the effect that actual violence has on MY ENJOYMENT of violence simulations. I don't know about you, but I enjoy games that allow me to BLOW PEOPLE UP. Seeing a cascade of blood and disembodied limbs never fails to bring a smile to my face when I'm kicking back with my PS2. But then I turn on the news and I see real people in Lebanon or Israel who have been blown to bits... and I start to feel GUILTY about playing these games. I don't want to see the consequences of violence: weeping relatives of maimed children and mass graves and all that mess. Violence with consequences is like sex with consequences: still quite fun, but not as fun as it would be without the consequences.

If only the leaders of Israel and Lebanon realized how their petty little conflict affected my ability to enjoy Grand Theft Auto... surely they would end hostilities and put all their differences behind them. Please, won't SOMEBODY think of the gamers?

Posted by Joey at August 13, 2006 07:20 PM

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Computer games don't affect kids. I mean if Pacman affected our generation, we'd all run around in a dark room munching pills and listening to repetitive music.
- Marcus Brigstocke -

Posted by: Bob at August 17, 2006 02:55 PM

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