Save The Pixels!

May 16, 2013

violence and video games

I’ve heard a lot of arguments about video games affecting real life–for example the lunatics who think video game violence cause real life violence–and how it makes people think or feel. For example, I’ve heard a lot of negative things obviously, like the one I’ve stated above or the idea that because women are represented as weak characters and sexual objects in games that it gives boys the wrong impressions about women.

Well, actually, as a parent it’s YOUR job to implement a good idea of women on your son. If you’re leaving that up to a game company, then blaming the company, you’re just a bad parent, especially if you BUY the M rated game for your underage kid to begin with.

But among the things I’ve heard, it made me wonder, why aren’t there positive ones? And the first example that came to mind (probably because I get paid to think about this game) was Minecraft. Why can’t Minecraft serve as an example of a good impact on the real world? A while back I cracked a whole article about a guy who thought it represented the Bible, and while that was ridiculous, he has a good point in that games CAN have meanings.

I mean, games are art–to me anyway, as art is subjective and I think they’re artistic if done right–and art usually has meanings (not all the time, obviously, sometimes art is just art just like games are just games) but people sometimes use art or video games as a way to make a statement. The Cave from Double Fine is a PERFECT example of how to make a statement on human nature and The Walking Dead from Telltale will make you a better parent, and maybe even morally a better person.

So Minecraft could mean something if we wanted to attach meaning to it, like “care about your environment”. Now, because you accuse me of having a hippy agenda, let it be known that I don’t think the world is in ANY danger whatsoever, to horribly paraphrase George Carlin: “The planet has been through MUCH WORSE than us, and somehow we think that getting rid of plastic bags is going to make a difference?” and he’s right. The planet has been through much worse and it adjusts to us and the things that we do. The planet will be here LONG after we are. But it doesn’t mean we CAN’T care about it or SHOULDN’T. I’m no hippy, but I do like nature (which is amazing considering I write about video games for a living and rarely leave my apartment), and I do find it beautiful, and when you look at all that it gives us, why CAN’T we do something for it? Obviously there’s the “faux conservationalist” who act like they care about the Rainforest while they’ve never BEEN to the Rainforest (and for the record, I’ve spoken to some people who’ve been there, and they HATE IT). But these people who latch onto things to give off the idea that they care, these “leeches” whose only goal is to impart a good impression of themselves.

And while I’ve never rallied for anything in my life, I’m also much more into saving nature than I am into saving our species. At least nature didn’t stuff people in lockers in high school.

What I’m saying is this: Video games CAN have meaning, and if that’s true, then why can’t they have GOOD meaning? Why can’t a video game’s message be POSITIVE? Minecraft teaches us that resources can be scarce, and that we should take pride in what the land gives us. When you break it down, everything you MAKE in that game came from something the game’s WORLD gave you. So why can’t this be a GOOD message?

If you have an answer, please let me know.

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