Monday, 5 November 2012

Video Games as Story-Tellers.

It's been a bug bear of mine for quite awhile. Maybe I'm subject to this opinion more often than males because I'm a female. I know my mum certainly doesn't understand it. Whenever she phones and I inform her she has interrupted a marathon Xbox session there is this uncomfortable silence. But there is something about Video Games that get some people (particularly in the older generations I've found) really riled up.

For example, think of all the bad things that have happened in recent years. Shootings etc. How many of these were blamed on video games, in particular Grand Theft Auto. I know a fair amount are attributed to films and music as well, but come on it's all ridiculous. How many people can honestly say after stealing a car on GTA they want to go out and replicate the act on real streets? In my opinion there was something wrong there before they played a violent game so blaming it on an entertainment device is just daft.

Parents now blame consoles for their children being over-weight and anti-social. But isn't this more down to the way they are parenting? Surely if they were putting in the effort to get their kids out and about this would change. Growing up we had all the major consoles and hand-helds. We were limited to an hour a night each on them. We went to the park or the cinemas or whatever at weekends and played out with our friends. Gaming sessions were spent as a family in the living room, all helping to complete the game. Nowadays kids are stuck in front of a TV in the hope of having a quiet easy life. Well I have news for you, being a parent isn't easy and it shouldn't be!

People are saying things like 'Oh they should be reading books like we did' and saying that children lack imagination. How do they? Why do people think video games stifle imagination? Surely they can be seen as a way of unlocking imagination. My three year old son has always been around games and is currently addicted to Sonic the Hedgehog, something he has taken over to his imaginative play time. Games can totally entrap you, they're emotional, they're imaginative and they are great story-telling devices.

Yes parents should cap the amount of time children spend sat in front of a screen not communicating, but as with everything in life, it's about controlling it, not doing it excessively to the point it's ruining your life.


  1. I think video games are just in the same cycles that all forms of entertainment go through. Before it was video games, tv and movies were to blame. Before those game along music was to blame. And people have blamed reading too. Just look at schools banned book lists. Listen to people talk about the old composers and how their music was considered demonic just because of the way it was composed.

    I think you hit on what the problem is, and that's that a lot of people don't want to take responsibility for their actions. Media is a quick and easy scape goat, and a lot of people take that route without hesitation, because it's been done in the past so many times. I think it's because it can be really hard for people to accept that they did something wrong in a given situation, especially when it involves someone you love.

    "My children didn't get fat because I'm a bad parent and didn't promote physical fitness, it's because of these damned video games that glue them to the TV."

    "My son/daughter didn't shoot up the school because he didn't get the mental help he desperately needed, it was because video games trained him to do it."

    "My husband didn't die from a severe addiction problem, he died because World of Warcraft wouldn't let him stop playing it."

    It really is annoying for people to pass blame on video games, but it's something that people have been doing since civilization began. I guess all we can do is try to educate each other to ensure that these things happen less and less as time goes by, but when the next big media thing comes along, I guarantee people are going to blame it for something or another.

    "My friend didn't kill everyone because he was mentally disturbed, it was because the dream discs he bought kept telling him to do it! Sorry he couldn't distinguish between fantasy and reality, but the people who invented dream discs should've just never done that!"

  2. Yeah you're absolutely right, this piece is aimed more at people who are shirking their responsibilities. It's getting to a point where it's just ridiculous.
    Again I agree, society as a whole is always looking for that easy excuse. And as society evolves so do the excuses.
    I do feel though that video games as an art form and story-telling device are seriously unappreciated by a lot of people too. Because of the negative press games and gamers now receive, there is a stigma attached to us.
    Maybe this would have made more sense as two different blog posts, one about the merits of games and another just ranting about parental responsibility ;)