I do like the occasional blog update about video games. If you (like me) enjoy games then I’m sure all this is common knowledge. But if all you hear is the easily refuted “studies” that show a link between violent behavior and video games then you might be the type of person who has never heard anything about them from an advocates’ point of view. Most will never admit it’s the same thing, but how many times did baby boomers hear, “TV will rot your brain,” while they were growing up? Yet boomers from their easy chairs will actually yell at folks my age “stop playing those games and grow up.” Which I’ve always found funny, it’s a pastime. Like reading, or television, or golf, or model railway…
And yes, it is exactly the same thing. “But oh,” some blame pushing parent might say, “those Columbine kids played shooting games and so did the Sandy Hook shooter.”
Well, here’s the response. Did you blame “Taxi Driver” or Jodi Foster for the actions of John Hinckley, Jr.? Charles Manson not to blame, he was only following the instructions set forth by the Beatles in the White Album and “Helter Skelter?”
The real answer… crazy people will do crazy things for bizarre reasons that are usually unrelated to their actions and only connected by their link in a diseased mind. And at some point in time every “newer” form of entertainment medium has been blamed for “behavioral issues” that are more easily linked to social situations (like bullying) or home life (abuse and neglect.) I’m sure bad parents in the Victorian Era were all talking about how terrible their kids were acting and how it was all the fault of those new-fangled zoetropes.
But it’s not ALL bad, lazy, irresponsible parenting. Although the bad ones really do try hard to blame others before taking on any responsibility on themselves. There are plenty of genetic disorders out there that really do cause potentially dangerous behavior no matter how good a home environment a kid might have.
But to blame an entertainment medium… is just ignorant. Any pastime or hobby can become unhealthy if taken to the level of obsession. I’ll freely admit to “binge” gaming on occasion. I’ll fire up a game and then the next time I check the clock 4 or 5 hours have passed. I’m usually a little too hyperkinetic to sit for that long but it happens. Then again, I’ve done the same reading a book I really like. Pick it up to read a chapter or so only to finish it and find I’ve been reading for several hours. A new trend in TV watching with shows being available to stream on services like Netflix and Hulu is being called “binge watching.” A new season of a television show becomes available, and someone watches all the episodes back to back. That’s not really one that gets me (I don’t like ANY shows THAT much,) but I’ve done “movie marathons” before. I don’t see occasional indulgences to be that unhealthy, but ANY pastime can be taken to the level of obsession. I’ve never let indulging in a hobby make me late to work. Maybe miss out on sleep but always managed to get myself to work. And when I say ANY hobby… I mean it. If it negatively affects work or social activities, even if you are just a stamp collector or a lepidopterist, taking any hobby too far is easy to do. You hear horror stories about parents (dads usually) getting so upset over kids’ baseball or soccer that a shouting match or a fistfight ensues. Golf clubs get thrown through windows, church ladies cheat at bingo, people buy “yoga outfits…”