Whether it’s match-three games like the infamous Candy Crush, first-person shooters like Battlefield Three, or life simulators such as The Sims 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 teach necessary skills that can be used in classrooms and work environments.
Unfortunately for many American families, tragedy appears 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 have 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 forms of entertainment. In television, for example, watching a sailor get thrown off a ship into high waters is much different from consciously making the decision and giving the command to have an avatar physically throw another player overboard. In the case of high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who were the killers at Columbine High School in a highly-publicized school shooting, the boys had been known to play a gory and violent game called Doom. Interestingly enough, Harris had 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 and circumstances of Harris and Klebold’s real-life shooting and, consequently, the video game Doom has been blamed (Anderson and Bushman).
The coincidence does seem convincing, nevertheless these details are merely circumstantial. The fact that Harris and Klebold played Doom does not mean by matter of course 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 indie building block game Minecraft. In the game Doom, players fight through the planet Mars and destroy their possessed shipmates in order to stop the demon-turned humans from attacking Earth and infecting the rest of the human race (“Doom” Wiki). Similarly, in Minecraft players are placed in a simple pseudo-realistic Earth and their goal is to survive and build their world without being destroyed by explosive creepers or eaten by giant spiders (“Minecraft” Minecraft). Minecraft and Doom are identical on a basic level: they have a goal, opposition, rules, and a feedback system.
Video games teach structure and give a sense of accomplishment. Providing a...