If you, like many people, tend to believe everything the newspapers and other such media outlets tell you at face value, then you’re doubtless aware that gaming is the cause of absolutely everything bad in the known universe. It causes obesity, violence, plagues of rats who are all called Bob and so much more evil! Exactly why our media takes such a delight in picking on games is a rather difficult question, so I’m going to ignore it entirely. Instead, I’m going to voice my opinion that games have actually been a massive positive force in my life, and not some sort of soul-sucking vampire intent on turning me into a raging whirl of fury and vengeance. Like Kratos.
A common argument thrown against my videogame hobby is that of violence and anger. I’m not going to argue against it as there is plenty of truth to the statement, as there is with most arguments against games. I’ve always had a rather short fuse, and I’ve worked hard to keep it in check and make sure I don’t lash out at people for the smallest of things. But a rather common misconception is that videogames create the anger, but truth is they merely act as a trigger. Anger and violent is a human trait, built into our very genetic structure, and for some, like myself, it’s stronger than in others. I can’t blame games for causing feelings of violence and anger because they’re already there. Anything can act as a trigger, be it films, music, books, games or a wrong sentence by a passing person. Some games do trigger some anger in me (damn you, Trials HD) but I can hardly blame the game for my lack of control and nature. But what I really want to talk about is my experiences with anger and games, and the fact that they help me control it. Should something occur that triggers my anger, or has me feeling like I need to punch a wall, I will head home and put on Mortal Kombat, throw it on a fairly easy difficulty and beat the living daylights out of the AI. For me, this is a clean and simple way to vent my anger without taking it out on family or friends. Perhaps a psychologist might argue that this is not a healthy outlet, but it works for me.
Gaming has also helped me get through bouts of sadness. live every day with Cystic Fibrosis, which isn’t life threatening or any such thing, but on many days I struggle to get a breath or have to deal with painful stomach cramps. In reality, compared to many people round the world, I’m not doing badly at all, but on some days it does stress me out, and on those days I’m thankful for my games as they offer a lovely escape into another world. On other days I can feel pretty depressed about it, and again games help me as much as my friends in these moments. Don’t take this the wrong way; I don’t let myself get sucked into the game and spend the next 24-hours believing I live that game, but for just a few hours I can get away from my problems, enjoy myself and then come back into the real world, ready to face the rest of the day with a smile on my face.
Another argument that people tend to throw in my face is that my gaming is anti-social, especially as I’m not the kind of person that heads out to the pubs every weekend to get drunk. This argument used to hold a lot of weight, but with Xbox Live now being available to the majority of gamers out there, it no longer holds the weight it once did. Even if I’m playing a singleplayer adventure such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution (the review is coming), I’m generally chatting to a friend over in another country. And when it comes to the evenings and I head off to fire some bullets in multiplayer, I’m usually talking to several friends. In many respects I’m being more social that those going to the pubs at the weekend; I’m going to the pub every night, and not having to get drunk to have a good time. The next argument, then, is usually that I only ever chat about games with these so-called “friends”, but again this proves to a rather flawed argument to me as I speak to my online friends about everything. Some nights we chat about science, the next we talk about the latest films, or just go on about the most random of things. My final point to make is that Xbox Live introduced me to several great friends, including one of the best friends I have. I’ve never met him, and yet known him for several years now, talk to him on the phone regularly and always have a great time online. I’ll always be grateful that my favorite hobby also gave me one of my closest friends.
The next argument that people like to try to trip me up with is that gaming is addictive. They’re right, it is. But a large amount of things in life are addictive, so I tend to respond my asking them if they like to drink, and if they do how much do they drink. A surprising number say they drink a beer a night, or several glasses of wine and then whatever they consume at a pub on the weekends. So, by definition, these people are alcoholics addicted to their chose substance. My point is not to judge people, but to point out that while gaming is addictive, it’s like almost anything else in this world; use it in moderation and there is not a problem. It’s like drugs; smoke marjuana in huge amounts and it’s addictive and bad for you, but take it occasionally and in moderation and it does little harm, in fact it does less harm that alcohol. My point is that while Xbox is addictive, as long as you’re careful and use it in moderation you will be fine. I certainly wouldn’t class it as any more addictive than TV.
I’m not going to venture into the territory of ” but a twelve-year old kid said he killed someone by doing what he saw in a game” because it’s absurd. I’m sorry, but it is. 1) why was the child in question playing a game that clearly involved killing. There’s an age rating on these for a reason. I’m looking at your parents. 2) why was this child not more clearly educated in morality? Even when I was just five or six years old I knew that violence was a hugely wrong thing, because my parents had been careful when raising me to teach me such things. 3) why were the parents not more involved? Clearly this child had problems identifying between life and virtual reality, as well as not understanding the lines between things that occur in games and those that occur in everyday life. But I’ll stop, because if I get started on this argument, the article I’m writing will require a fairly large book for it to be printed in.
My point is a simple one; in every case the media presents against gaming, there are valid and legitimate points of discussion, but they get taken out of context, warped and used in ways that they simply shouldn’t be. A news channel report should be a fair, accurate and unbiased view of both sides of the argument for games, and yet research constantly gets ignored or taken out of context and used against gaming without providing valid counter arguments. How often have I watched a news piece on gaming that doesn’t go and talk to the everyday gamers to get their views on the subject. But this is just my humble opinion, and clearly, according to the media, gaming couldn’t have had such a good impact upon my life. It has introduced me to friends, helped me control anger, pulled me back from bouts of sadness and depression and, most of all, it has provided me with endless hours of fun and joy.
Maybe gaming is evil, maybe it is to be blamed for every problem in the known universe, but for this gamer, it has had nothing but a positive impact. Except for a lighter wallet.
Categories: Opinion Piece