One of the things I find most loathsome about career politicians is their propensity for ignoring difficult and complicated issues while instead focusing on issues which really don’t matter very much (Hillary Clinton and Leeland Lee I’m lookin’ at you). Case in point: video games. The discovery of the “Hot Coffee” mod in GTA San Andrea has initiated a renewed interest on both sides of the political spectrum into the effects video games have on young people. Both parties seem to assume that video games are detrimental and dangerous because they desensitize the player to violence, there is a causual relationship between violent video games and violent crime, and they are eroding our values and sense of decency.
Thankfully there are educated folks like Henry Jenkins, MIT professor and director of comparative studies, who have empirical and scientific evidence that not only proves otherwise, but states that the exact opposite may be true. Go read his PBS article titled “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked.” The article is well-written and well documented, and it says insightful and intelligent things like:
I grew up in the video game generation and I’ve probably played hundreds of video games in my life, so I’m confident my expertise grants me the right to speak on this subject with some level of authority. I never had the illusion that what I was allowed to do in the video game world was acceptable behavior in reality. Never…not once. You know what video games teach kids? Video games teach kids that adults are clueless about technology and that adults have very little respect or interest in technology or technological innovation.
I’ll elaborate. For the people out there around thirty years old: How much time did you have to spend trying to explain games like “Final Fantasy” or “The Legend of Zelda” to you parents? Did they ever understand it? Do you get the same look of incomprehension from them now when you try to explain Wi-Fi and DVR technology as you did when you tried to explain why Mario gets bigger when he gets the red mushroom? To quote the Fresh Prince, “Parents just don’t understand.”
On a personal note, I also learned that I don’t have the patience to complete long-ass games without cheating. I can only remember one game I that I didn’t use cheat codes or walk-throughs to complete and that was “Dragon Warrior” for the NES. I’m not even sure if there were any cheat codes for Dragon Warrior, but I found every other cheat code out there. I always get the whistles in Super Mario Bros 3, I can type idgod and iddfa faster than anyone alive, I can’t play GTA without loading up on weapons, and the title of this post will tell you how I beat Contra and Life Force.