Socially disruptive effects of video games

Video virus
Home video game addiction
Violent computer games
Addictive computer games
The worldwide proliferation of video and computer games has led to an addiction, especially amongst teenagers, that can be socially disruptive. It is sometimes referred to as "video virus". Video and computer games are potentially addictive because they are interactive and reward success, thus encouraging further use of them. In situations where players are immediately rewarded for their behaviour, this relationship is especially powerful. The games are designed to immediately beguile through graphics and other devices, and then to deliver judicious measures of frustration, incentive and reward to encourage further playing and to pull the player further into the game. Successful games have a progressive element: every time they are played there is the possibility of progressing a bit further. Instances can be cited world-wide of young people becoming so addicted to these games that they virtually drop out of society. In addition to pre-empting children's imagination in play, many of these games actively promote aggressive and violent behaviour.
In the Galleries Lafayette in Paris video game demonstrations are so packed with young people that salesmen cannot move. In Tokyo, video game parlours now outnumber the once ubiquitous pachinko parlours. In Amsterdam male youths are often prey to older loitering homosexuals who expect favours in return for the coins they slip into video game machines. Stockholm has been terrorized by young thugs who rob people in the subways and streets in order to pay for their addiction.

Some games are based on role-playing of a particularly violent and inhumane sort: characters rip out their opponents' organs; points are earned by driving at high speeds and knocking down people or animals; players sit in pseudo electric chairs and give themselves virtual electric shocks. There are games which communicate electronically with specially created television programmes, enabling players to "kill" onscreen villains and join in battles with those depicted on the television.

1. The computer is not neutral but in fact channels us and frames our view of the world. Home video games encourage sexism, violence and racism. Their world is one of aggression and mayhem populated by prizefighters, terrorists, assassination teams, Ninja warriors, robotic cops, bad dudes, and adolescent mutant turtles. Women are typically cast as victims and foreigners as baddies. Such games promote the ideas of the violent, intolerant autonomous self. There are no conscientious objectors in the world of video games.

2. Although games are intrinsically addictive, it is the fact that they encourage people to neglect other forms of social interaction that is of greater import because the addiction hinders personal development and prevents the person from doing anything else with his life. He will not be using his own imagination, but locking himself inside the flimsy, collective fantasy of a group of former games fanatics. There is little of value to be learnt from the best-selling games. When game-playing is eventually abandoned, the person has then to backtrack to an earlier emotional age.

1. Video games have educational value (maths games, language lessons, sports skills) and improve hand and eye coordination.

2. Addiction to video games ensures that children are occupied for long periods of time where they might otherwise be tempted to roam the streets and explore more anti-social activities.

3. There is no question but that computer games can enhance "flow", a state of deep concentration, total absorption and intellectual peak performance. Playing computer games can therefore be a possible contributing factor to higher IQ scores.

(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems