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Search String: “are video games bad for you”

January 15, 2008

No.

And I say that with certainty as a player, a mom, a professor and a game developer.

Each time I see this string in my “Search Engine Terms” listing, and it happens a few times a day, I want to ask, “Why do you ask?”. As I ask the question, however, I receive the answer – because the person cares and perhaps because they have been led to believe games are not so good.

But games are perfectly okay. Is Mario bad? Is Donkey Kong bad? What about Pac-Man?

Movies, books, comic books, music, art and television aren’t bad for you either. Everything’s good in moderation. When parents don’t care about the video game ratings or movie ratings and give an M-rated game to their 10-year old kid, the game’s not “bad”, but the parent is potentially irresponsible, just as he or she might be in error to hand over Reservoir Dogs to the same kid.

Video games are truly magical, wonderful creations that have given me and millions of others like me countless hours of fun not to mention a long and fruitful career. There some mature games just as their are some R-rated movies, but neither is reflective of the whole. Rather, they are reflective of the audience that consumes games, and that’s a huge range of people from 2 to 82.

Whatever you’re searching for – and there are at least a few of you every day – video games aren’t bad for you. Enjoy.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2008 8:05 pm

    I mentioned Reservoir Dogs in my most recent post on video game ratings, too 😀
    GMTA?
    I’m pleased!

  2. danwilkins permalink
    January 15, 2008 8:15 pm

    I think the problem lies in people willfully being un-educated about the games they hear about. Like I showed you on the projector earlier, situations like http://kotaku.com/344462/more-mass-effect-political-dickery don’t really help the whole stigma the industry is still toting along. I won’t even go into the whole Jack Thompson debacle – at least he rocked the boat enough that he fell in, too.

  3. ThomasJLKastner permalink
    January 16, 2008 3:04 am

    I also enjoy the personal connections games bring to a group of people. Have you ever feel you’ve gotten to know an individual through some kind of game you’ve played together? I mean maybe not on a extremely personal level but perhaps just the fact that you’ve become more comfortable being around an individual would mean you’ve gotten to know them a little bit better.

    Danwilkins –

    Maybe the general public isn’t willfully ignorant as much as they just haven’t been provided with the opportunity to learn more about the games they hear all these negative things about.

    There has to be a better way of dealing with him besides trying to call him an idiot in the most professional and polite way possible. Maybe we should instead spin the argument around to provide an education about video games to all who is reading or listening to it. This way we are correcting his misinformation and completely ignoring him as a person which would probably render him insignificant in the minds of the general public.

    Obviously the problem isn’t with gamers or game developers because we can all agree on the fact that anti-game activists usually use methods and reasoning that reflects their lack of integrity. This means we as gamers, game developers and/or artists should be trying to educate the general public and the mainstream media about the gaming world. Most people don’t understand that some games(digital and non-digital) are for children while others are made for adults. If you play games then people tend to believe you are immature or childish because they see it as playing with a toy(yet they ignore the fact that adults have toys too. see your local porn store for details).

  4. January 16, 2008 9:49 am

    You address one reason people are frightened of video games: M ratings.

    There are two other reasons I’ve seen:

    1) Childhood obesity. The perception that, by sitting in front of a game machine instead of going outside and running around, kids are not getting enough physical stimulation.

    Answer: Your “everything good in moderation” comment applies here; games themselves don’t cause health issues, but a parent who allows their kid to play games for ten hours straight every day is potentially irresponsible. It’s also worth pointing out games that involve physical movement, like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Sports.

    2) Media perception. As you’ve pointed out before, headlines like “Research shows that video games may actually be GOOD for you!” show a definite media slant against games. Some people may not have any understanding of what games are, they just see them portrayed negatively in the news… consistently.

    Answer: See all other new media that have ever existed — heavy metal, rock music, dancing… even classical music, stage plays and books if you go back far enough.

  5. ThomasJLKastner permalink
    January 16, 2008 10:32 am

    Just wondering if you have heard the news about McDonalds placing blame of child hood obesity on video games. I don’t think that any fast food establishment has any room to talk about childhood obesity, or even obesity in general.

  6. danwilkins permalink
    January 16, 2008 10:34 am

    ThomasJLKastner – You’re right about them likely not being willful about it, but rather just haven’t had the right opportunities. Unfortunately I lurk on the internet too much sometimes and get a little jaded, so it’s good to have positive criticism that knocks me back to level headed.

    Maybe gamers and the industry need to start doing small fund raiser tournaments for charity on a more consistent basis. Get a corporate sponsor to help rent out maybe 5-10 consoles and have a tournament for a couple different games on a weekend at malls across the U.S., little prizes or something but all the entry costs are then donated to a charity or some such.

    I know Child’s Play (http://www.childsplaycharity.org/) has been ridiculously successful, and the PA guys are all to thank for that and everyone else who contributed; but we can always do more for public education of how games can help teach and develope rather than destroy.

  7. danwilkins permalink
    January 16, 2008 10:37 am

    ThomasJLKastner – Hah, you posted that as I was typing my last response. The fact that McDonalds even bothered to do that is just, absurd on so many levels. From the feed I read about it on, I didn’t even see a justifiable reason as, “Well we believe that if they do that, they’ll always be fat. Fat little children. Even we’re better for them than that!” or anything of the like. Unfortunately, I have to run to class though, so in short: McDonalds should have kept it’s mouth closed.

  8. January 16, 2008 3:26 pm

    I find the term “video game” too broad in that Search String. Just as there are many variety to movies, like kiddie movies to those that are explicitly for adults, there are just about the same variety in games. Too often, the term is incorrectly used used to mean only a section of the whole. I wonder when people will be educated enough to use some adjetives with that “video game.”

    On the other hand, I wonder if someone can help by solidifying general categories to describe video games? Something in the line with the terms like ‘Pornography’ for sexually explicit movies, ‘Film Noir’ for dark, urban movies, ‘documentary’ for informative movies, and so on. (Or are these terms naturally created as industry matures? ooh i’m so confused and frustrated being constantly under the fire by uneducated conservatives.)

  9. danwilkins permalink
    January 16, 2008 7:32 pm

    Certainly we already have genres mapped out, such as the first person shooter, real time strategy, adventure, fighting, etc; the trick is we have different age ranges within each of those genres as well.

    More education on the ESRB’s rating system, where to find it on a game box, and what each listing means to a game would help as well. You know, have one of those “The more you know” commercials, but rather it be about the ESRB. I’m not sure if they’ve publicly done anything like this in the past. At least it would be a step in the right direction for a more informed non-gamer demographic.

  10. January 17, 2008 3:22 pm

    I found a very good, very visible case of lack of education recently on GP:

    http://gamepolitics.com/2008/01/17/mass-effect-bashing-pundit-backs-off/

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