There’s something about how society has viewed video games and gamers alike for the past 40 years now. Yet while it has either been in awe or disgust, through scientific studies or simple experiments, there has been both a positive as well as negative view. However, at a time news media chose to pick up a sledgehammer and force a viewpoint down onto us which even today will be used not only for views, but to see if we also will believe it’s bad in some way.
For the second segment in the series, I’m joined by none other than the great Kim from Later Levels, whom you might know have a monthly competition between the blogger family members in the WordPress community, only known as Question of the Month which I have been in twice so far, back in September and October. She comes with the gripe asking a simple question; “Are video games bad for us?”
Dear readers, I welcome you to:
“Welcome Kim, it’s great to have you here on Gaming Gripes’ second edition. Quite the interesting choice you have brought forth.” – Trinity
“Thank you for having me! I thought it might be a good topic to get the conversation going.” – Later Levels
“If I may ask, why go with this instead of the many recent ones that has been happening in the industry as of late?” – Trinity
“It’s a subject which has persisted for so long. Every year there seems to be a new study or critic who claims that video games are ‘bad’; similar conversations about other forms of media have almost stopped, yet we’re still talking about it regularly when it comes to games!” – Later Levels
“I agree and if something that is infamous to be discussed, then that will be how video games can make you violent in some way. However just for the reader, what is it today we’ll be talking about?” – Trinity
“Ok, so the gaming gripe I have chosen is… the way we’re still discussing whether video games are bad for you.” – Later Levels
“Which is quite the deep subject to discuss. I still think it is something we once in a while should sit down and look at.
Though the question is easy to ask, it’s hard to answer.
To which I will ask you Kim, are video games bad for you?” – Trinity
“Ooh… sneaky ha ha ha!
I’m by no means an expert but my answer would be: inherently, no. Everything has the potential to be bad for you if it’s misused in some way and video games are no different; but that doesn’t mean they’re fundamentally bad for you.
The world spends so long looking at what they perceive to be the negative side of gaming and it forgets all the good. They enable us to experience situations through another person’s eyes, they bring gamers together to raise money and awareness for good causes. And they allow us to connect with others – if it wasn’t for video games, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” – Later Levels
“Haha, that is all true. One of the things video games as done for the society and industry as a whole has been a wonderous journey since its beginning back in the 70’s.
However, one can’t look at it from a positive perspective, because without the negative or more realitstic look, the games won’t be evolving the way it has over the past 40-ish years.
So, what I want to point out for you is that games of today can actually be bad in some way for you. For example, the way lootboxes has been integrated into newer games can actually make it possible for gamers to develop a tendency to have a gambling addiction.
However, I do believe that games in themselves aren’t bad for you, it really depends on the person playing or publisher/developer with the game itself.
Are there any games in particular that you want to use as an example?” -Trinity
“I agree with you about looking at both the positive and negative sides – it’s the only way to evaluate something fully. And it’s studying the latter that highlights areas for improvement and elevates video games to where they are today.
I think what you said about it depending on the person playing is so true. Take your example about loot boxes: one gamer may not feel the impulse to make a purchase, while another may feel the need to make too many purchases. That doesn’t mean the game itself is inherently bad though; it seems to be more to do with ourselves individually and the way we each choose to use them.
When video games are in put the spotlight and the ‘violence’ argument is voiced once again, a single game is usually given as the cause and it’s then used to cast aspersions on games and the community as a whole. No thought is given to understanding that title, or the vision of its creator, or whether it was being used in an appropriate way – it’s just assumed that all video games must be bad. The same as there are all kinds of movies, books and other media, there’s an absolutely huge range of games.” – Later Levels
“Well it’s great with long answers, makes us seem smart in some way.
Yet when we think about it, for some reason in all types of media. Society have chosen to deem it bad for us at some point in time.
Games on the other hand, keep getting the bad rep for some of the bad instances that has happened in the world…or the news just want to re-use it for the sake of getting views.
Now what can be said to be a fascinating way of looking at it as well would be how can video games be good for us if they also can be bad, and in what way do they become the same.
So as before, when we talk about games being bad. Are there certain games you would like to us to look at?” – Trinity
“Oh, you’re right about that. When I was really young, the ‘hot topic’ was whether kids were being allowed to watch too much tv and then it moved on to the Mortal Kombat controversy in the 1990s. But while the conversation about television dwindled out, the argument about video games still continues on!
If you ask my parents what video games they’re aware of, they’re likely to say Super Mario (because that’s what my brother and I played as kids) or Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto (because that’s what they’ve heard about in the media). And if you ask them what they’re about, they’d probably answer with ‘guns’ or ‘killing people’ or something similar.
Yes, those games contain elements of those things – but they’re about other things too, and they’re just one type of game. The same as there are films about guns and violence, alongside movies about a whole host of other subjects.
What about titles such as Gone Home and That Dragon, Cancer which provide extremely emotional experiences? Or releases such as BioShock and The Last of Us, which are some of the best examples of storytelling? Or Journey and Proteus, which provide something completely different?
It’s rare to hear about these things in the mainstream media. I guess sensational stories bring in more clicks – but because of them, there are many people out there who consider all video games to be CoD or GTA. They’re missing out on so much and all the good that gaming can achieve…” – Later Levels
“Haha, well I do remember the news going absolutely crazy about Grand Theft Auto from time to time, how Call of Duty was the reason people would shoot each other, even go so far as talking about how hardware would be the cause for children to become addicted towards “naughty” things.
Nevertheless, those are some good choices about how different game won’t reach media in such a way, and I believe it’s not that it can give a good story. No, more that the way the games will be interpreted cannot have the same meaning to the next person watching, so cover the stories will not have the respond they want.
So if they can cover the bad areas of video games to the public, it will get not only the response they want, but have a chance to influence the next generation. Since our parents were the ones that grew up with tv and us with video games…when thinking about it in short terms.
Then would it be better to ask the question if games are supposed to be bad for us, what games will be great to use to use as such?
I for one believe the more simple games are able to do as such, going back to the issue of gambling. Old arcade games made this a thing for gamers young and old, with how many coins were needed to play a game you like. Today in a way arcade games still does it but also mobile games, the way they are designed to subtle make you use money to progress quicker with things have been something that could be discussed, but isn’t. On the other hand it isn’t once again necessarily bad, but when you really look at the design elements, well then they are made with the purpose of you doing something, which in a way is like becoming something of a puppet… and that in on itself is bad for us gamers when it comes to certain video games.
There are also different ways you can look at how video games can be bad for us. One of those things are limiting you going outside with others, in a way many games of today are made for us to sit inside and play with others online rather than going outside to enjoy some fresh air with enjoyment. This is not counting mobile games like Pokémon GO, Ingress or even the ones making you play a game while exercising.
Then we have the possibility of not getting the exercise needed from playing video games, and since games can be played standing up or sitting down, it kinda limits you being able to do very much to be in motion. While games like Just Dance or DDR (plus some mobile as mentioned before) does this and make it fun to do, not many other games makes this which again can then be said that in a way it’s bad for us gamers.
However, these are just some out of the box thinking when talking about the subject in broader terms.
Though I’m interested, are you in the same mindset or is it in more specific ways you look at when talking about video games being bad for gamers?” – Trinity
“The argument about video games stopping you from going outside is a little… flimsy, I think. Why is it considered more ‘valuable’ to stay inside if you’re reading a book or watching a film but not if you’re playing a game? You’re still experiencing a story of some kind, but you’re also interacting with it in some way – as well as other people if you’re playing online. That then has the possibility of encouraging gamers to get out and meet others with similar hobbies, and thousands of attendees go to expos all over the world to do just that.
It also goes back to each individual and use, as we said earlier. If I misuse video games – or any other media for that matter – and sink all my time into them while ignoring my responsibilities then yes, that’s bad. Or if I let my stepson stay in his bedroom all day with his head stuck in a screen, or let him play something inappropriate, then that’s bad too. But that isn’t the game’s fault: it’s mine as an adult and a parent.
I think the thing that annoys me the most is that when video games are claimed to be the cause of a bad situation, the gamer stereotype is often resorted to in order to prove the point… For example, did you hear about the paper earlier this year, which supposedly showed that games are responsible for reducing the amount of work completed by men each year since 2004?” – Later Levels
“No, I did not hear about it at all… What is the story there?” – Trinity
“Hang on, let me dig out a link… *rummages in the archives*… here we go: https://t.co/3SlDA3FBVE.
It’s probably best not to quote the paper’s conclusion for the sake of copyright, but I hate the way it implies that gamers are unable to control themselves and are always desperate for their next fix. That does nothing but perpetuate the old stereotype and continue to hold us back.
Speaking of stereotypes, one of the Professors who worked on the paper discussed its preliminary findings during a speech in 2006 (https://t.co/5xFDmlQdrE). Here’s a quote:
“If they are not working, how do these young men eat? We – the parents and relatives – feed them. When they are in our basements, they come up for food from time to time and raid our refrigerators. I have no information on whether or not they are showering… In summary, these younger, lower-skilled men are now less likely to work, less likely to marry, and more likely to live with parents or close relatives.”
Very professional, huh?
Oops sorry – that speech was given in 2016, not 2006!” – Later Levels
“What is fascinating about this though, is they are using video games the way every other interactive enjoyments can happen. Since the “fix” they are talking about are nothing more than endorphins being released, it’s the euphoric experience that makes it – if I interpret this correctly – the same way of becoming an addict.
This right here is something I do agree heavily with you, there’s nothing more shortsighted than putting gamers into a stereotype of a perspective from an age told many years ago.
Reading the speech from the professor, he more goes into how it hits labor activities in America, though it does tick me off somewhat when speaking of people with no bachelor as lower-skilled workers. However, he only seems to be focusing on it being men which is weird since it really hits both parties at hand.
Yet, while he may be working with National Bureau of Economic Research about this as well, I must admit it’s quite presumptous of him to say the age old saying of them not marrying, living in basements, not showering, eating food for free etc. etc.
It can be because I’m from Scandinavia and therefore have a completely different perspective as well as outlook on these type of things. So when you hear about it, it in a way doesn’t impact me the way he wants it to.
However, it can be bring me to my next point. Whether video games are bad for us can also depend on our social background, nationality and most important of all…the country as a whole. Sure this might be a stretch and shot in the dark. So, while I might not have research available at hand it is obvious that different countries have different work societies, which in terms can be said that it won’t be the same for what the professor is talking about in his speech.
Plus there are a whole plethora of video games out there for people to enjoy, this means that it’s hard to pinpoint where the line is set with how it can be bad for us.
That is why I’ll ask you Kim instead, if they still think video games are bad for us, what can be done to make it better in your opinion? Also what is your opinion about these surveys being done?” – Trinity
“Surveys, studies and papers like this all need to be taken in context. You mentioned earlier about how it’s necessary to look at both the positive and negative sides of any argument, and that’s true here too!
Alongside studies showing the negative impacts of video games, there are plenty that show the benefits also. For example, games can help heal from trauma and might even be used to treat PTSD (https://t.co/OfQtJ7GqGr). Or moderate playing can boost general cognitive functions such as critical thinking and reasoning (https://t.co/WWgTgjt5L5).
Or – and here’s one for the Professor of the study I mentioned above – there’s no clear link between gaming and addiction (https://t.co/RFyK4402Xu).
Instead of focusing on the bad all the time, why don’t we look at the good? It’s up to us as the community to encourage this and fight any tired stereotypes. Take the fact that $9,600,000 was raised for children’s hospitals in the US through last year’s Extra Life; and over £100,000 was raised for UK gamers with physical disabilities during GameBlast17. Video games brought people together to do plenty of good during both of those events, and things like this should be promoted.” – Later Levels
“I must admit these are some great articles you’ve brought forth to this discussion. You also come back to the core of what I wanted to get to, that in the end it’s all about looking at both the good as well as the bad but within the same measures to not make the scale more towards one side than the other. That video games themselves aren’t inherently bad but it’s up to us, making the most of it without falling into the dark side.
However, to go back to the question you’ve chosen for this segment. Do you see video games being bad for us gamers, or is it a battle from the question that will always be there within the video game industry?
These are your closing arguments for this segment as a whole, but do go into as much detail as possible.” – Trinity
“In some ways, the question about whether video games are bad for you will always exist – at least until the ‘next thing to be fearful of’ comes along. Perhaps we’re at that point already. Parents seem to accept that their children will play games nowadays (the suitability of what they’re playing is a different subject!) and are instead worried about the dangers of the internet. I guess each generation has their own fear-of-the-unknown that eventually gets replaced by something new.
But that doesn’t mean these things shouldn’t be discussed, and it’s right that both sides of every argument are examined. Consider all the positive points we’ve talked about today – and the fact that a lot of it comes down to us each individually and the way we choose to use video games.
It’s up to us as a community to do what we can to promote their positivity and encourage others to see their benefits too. It’s also up to us to do what we can to discourage the old ‘gamer’ stereotype and show people all the good we can do when we come together. Games give us the opportunity to meet people with similar interests all over the world; go to events and share our hobby with others; raise awareness of and support for good causes; and escape into a different world for a few hours after a long day at work.
Now how can that be bad?” – Later Levels
“I whole heartedly agree on what you’re saying, that it is up to us as a community to come together and do what is right in the end. A great way to look at it.
Kim, this has been an incredible discussion to have done this with you. You have made some interesting pointers with a perspective on what is wrong, but also on how it can be made better if we just pull ourselves together. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Gaming Gripes with me and making such thoughtful answers, I do appreciate our discussion and can see more come in the future.” – Trinity
“It was my pleasure – thank you for inviting me!” – Later Levels
“Where can people find you if they want to continue getting more knowledge from you?” – Trinity
“Knowledge? More like ‘insane rambling’! Ha ha ha…
There’s a contact page on the blog with the social media details: https://t.co/iCS1hOu7pF “ – Later Levels
I’m surprised how this discussion turned out in the end, there was no question in my mind that Kim would bring her A-game and I do highly recommend reading the articles she brought forth, as they give a very good insight to the question being asked. In the end it was clear though that it wasn’t easy to answer the Gaming Gripe, it did however made it possible to see how the way we look at games have shifted over the years… even though it might still be something that news media will try to stab at for easy views in the future, but through this discussion it’s easy to see that really isn’t the point so much anymore.
Games will still need to be looked at from both a positive and negative perspective, but it doesn’t have to focus on only the one aspect over the other.
Nevertheless, do tell me what your thoughts are on this topic. Do you see video games being bad for us as society still wants us to think or have it shifted more towards something else over the years? Write it down in the comments what your perspectives are on this.
While you’re at it, do go over to Later Levels website as well as Twitter to give Kim a follow, she is very methodical in her way of talking about any subject.
Also, if you are interested in some more Gaming Gripes, you can read the first one in the series I did with Chris from Overthinkery right here. It goes into the topic of “character doing stupid things in cutscenes”.
Stay Cozy and have a nice day!