This piece was written for the Dutch BBC Awards of 2012. Any criticism is appreciated
Video games, who hasn’t played one? Whether on the internet, on Facebook or on a video game console, practically everyone in the Western civilised world has played a video game, and it shows. The video game industry is the fastest growing industry in the world; popular titles like the “Call of Duty” series sell millions of copies each year and earn billions of dollars in profit for their publishers.
And yet video games are usually the first thing to be blamed for tragedies involving non-gang related shootings. Despite multiple studies showing the lack of anything resembling video-game related effects on the human psyche, it’s still firmly entrenched in the public opinion that all video games are horrific murder simulators teaching every gamer how to kill. The opponents of violent video games use outdated studies and make use of rhetoric to silence those who oppose them. The problem is that most people believe them. Because of the lack of information from other sides of the argument and a psychological tendency to combat change, the opponents have managed to gain enough support to turn public opinion against video games.
As I’ve previously stated, opponents of violent video games like to bring up studies indicating the increase in violent behaviour in children who’ve played video games. A particular study brought up held by several doctors, professors and psychologists from the Texas School of Medicine in 1995. They interviewed and psychoanalysed about one thousand children from the ages of ten to nineteen. The results indicated that several of the children studied had a habit of playing video games and that these children were empirically more violent than the other children in the study.
This study, however, was performed in a completely unprofessional sense. Participants were bribed by the doctors and they made use of the outdated psychoanalysis model invented by Sigmund Freud. This model was proven to be outdated and incorrect about 90 years before the study. It’s based on a naturalistic way of thinking that was very popular in the late 1800’s, when Freud invented it, but it’s considered to be a very flawed way of thinking with some very incorrect hypotheses. It’s abundantly clear that despite the severe flaws in their arguments, the opponents will gladly ignore those flaws and continue preaching their flawed rhetoric.
What those opponents also gladly ignore, are the studies indicating the positive effects of video games. Not only have those shown that video games have no noticeable effect on the human psyche, they’ve also shown that, in fact, video games have positive effects. Playing video game enhances the hand-eye coordination and serves as a great way to relieve stress and violent tendencies. Video games are overall helpful and serve a purpose. The opponents are ignorant and despite this manage to garner a lot of support.
Video games are innocent fun, and that’s a fact. Multiple studies have proven that people suffer no ill effects from video games. And yet the opponents of video games still hold on, clinging to an ancient and inaccurate study proven to be completely wrong half a century, hoping people will believe them and not the facts. But as long as video games exist people will do something against it. It was the same 100 years ago with the invention of the video camera and 55 years ago with rock music. Man is psychologically resistant to change and there’s nothing to change that. The only thing gamers can do is ride out the storm, hope the generation gap closes and public opinion finally changes.