Whether it’s match-three games like the infamous Candy Crush, first-person shooters like Battlefield Three, or life simulations such as The Sims 3 or Virtual Families, video games are all around us. The debate for years has been “How do they affect us?” and “Should we let kids spend so much time playing them? Is exposure to games all the time helping or harming their development?” Although some critics and parents believe that any kind of gaming is bad all around, video games have positive effects on social behavior and mindset.
Unfortunately for many American families, tragedy seems to be lurking around every corner; where there is tragedy, there is blame. Schools in America have had shootings by young adults that have wounded and killed innocent children. The tragedy is the children’s deaths, and the blame is put immediately on video games. It’s safe to say that movies, television, and books all leave an effect of some type on the viewer or consumer. The difference with video games is that there is a certain interactivity that is distinctive from other mediums of entertainment. In the case of television, for example, watching a sailor get thrown off a ship into high waters is much different from making the choice and giving the command to have an avatar physically throw another player overboard. The media have been pointing their fingers at video games and linking them to real-life tragedies because of this. In the case of high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who were the killers at their neighborhood elementary school in a highly-publicized school shooting, the boys had been known to play a gory and violent game called Doom. Interestingly enough, Harris made a customized version of this game with extra weapons and victims that couldn’t fight back. Psychological analysts and average viewers alike found this eerily, uncoincidentally similar to the aspects of the circumstances of Harris and Klebold’s real-life shooting (Anderson, Bushman).
These details are merely circumstantial. The fact that Harris and Klebold played Doom does not necessarily mean that any person who plays Doom will become a mass-murderer. Even though the content of Doom is gory and satanic, the game itself is relatively innocent. The mechanics and structure of Doom are no different from the popular game Minecraft. In the game Doom, players fight through the planet Mars and destroy their possesed shipmates in order to stop them from attacking Earth (“Doom” Wiki). Similarly, in Minecraft players are placed in a simple pseudo-earth and their goal is to survive without being destroyed by explosive creepers or eaten by giant spiders (“Minecraft” Minecraft). The similarities may not be obvious at first, but on a mechanical level Minecraft and Doom are the same: they have a goal, opposition, rules, and a feedback system.
Video games teach structure, guideline, and give a sense of accomplishment. To provide a definition of a game, Jane Mcgonigal quotes philosopher...