Game, set and no death-match

Screenshot from Lego Star Wars game
Lego Star Wars: the best game in the universe, ever™ (Photo courtesy of Gamespot.)

An interesting article (found via Digg.com) written by Henry Jenkins, a Professor at MIT entitled “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked

A large gap exists between the public’s perception of video games and what the research actually shows. The following is an attempt to separate fact from fiction.

The eight myths refuted (with evidence) are:

  1. The availability of video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.
  2. Scientific evidence links violent game play with youth aggression.
  3. Children are the primary market for video games.
  4. Almost no girls play computer games.
  5. Because games are used to train soldiers to kill, they have the same impact on the kids who play them.
  6. Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
  7. Video game play is socially isolating.
  8. Video game play is desensitizing.

Whew! I don’t play many games but I do enjoy them once in a while. Regular readers of my blog will know that the games I play most often are Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Battlefront II, Battlefield 2 and Lego Star Wars. I also have a few versions of Mah Jong and Chess installed.

I’m glad that there is some credible research being done in this area. It disappoints me that people are often so quick to point the finger at things like computer games, rock music and TV/movies as the causes of violence in (mostly young) people. One thing that I do agree with, however, is the age-restrictions assigned to different games — I don’t think that ten year olds should be violent playing games like Grand Theft Auto 3, even if it is ‘cartoon violence’.

One of the great things about computer games, in particular, is how easy it is now to network with other players all over the world. That kind of communication and networking has to be a good thing.

This evening I’ve been on MSN Messenger with a few folks. I’ve helped Rob out with an creative writing assignment; talked with Mike about his girlfriend; got stuck on Suzie’s English structure homework; and discussed my new blog theme with James. As it happens I’ve met 3/4 of these folks, but I could easily have been chatting with Arsi in Pakistan, Justin in England or Kira in the USA, none of whom I’ve actually met and shaken hands.

Computers are an amazing thing. The internet is an amazing thing. Life on this planet will never be the same.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 47 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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