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When we begin to stereotype or group all gamers together we often overlook many factors. Some gamers use video games as an outlet for stress, some for enjoyment, some for creative ideas and some just for plain old fun. In some cases though, the politicians, governors, senators and even some parents who claim that video games are a bane on society and that they are nothing more than an outlet for violent children to release their rage. A lot of these people also believe that video games, the violent ones in particular, even cause some children, teenagers, and adults to re-enact the violent acts on society.
Just recently video games were challenged by the state of California in what was considered a big trial for those involved in video games. The California Supreme Court voted down the ban of selling video games to children under 13 by a vote of 7-2. In the article “Court strikes down minor violent video game ban” by James Vicini, he outlines the outcome of the trial and quoted some of the justice’s reasoning’s for not banning games. “Scalia said the state’s expert testified he found the same effects when children watched television cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner or viewed a picture of a gun.”(Vicini) As you can see from the quote, experts were questioned and they even testified that it’s not just video games that impact a child or a person’s thoughts, but the cartoons we have loved our whole life.
I am of the group that believes video games do have an effect on the people playing them, but it is up to a parent to regulate what a person plays. A child’s mind is very easily manipulated. If you are not taught right from wrong and are allowed to be subjected to violent material than you are going to lean more towards that in your life. The main effect that this negative view of gamers has on gamers themselves is that we are all bunched together. We are all seen as heathens in a sense. Becoming a gamer is as simple as playing a social media game or playing a casual game of cards or rock, paper, scissors. The influence gamers have on each other are more of what types of games they play more than just influencing them to play any game. When asked if the community shapes an individual I have this response. I don’t think that you become a product of the community; I think the community is a product of the gamer. Your community is what you make it not the other way around.
When it comes down to it we often just want to look at the bad side of any issue. We don’t want to look at how children who play puzzle, thought-inducing, and adventure games show better problem solving skills and better reflexes. In an article on National Geographic called “Video Games Boost Visual Skills” by John Roach, he talked to a pair of researchers from Rochester, New York who did experiments and studies to prove that video games help with hand/eye coordination. According to the experiments, which are reported in the May 29 issue of Nature, people who play action video games can process visual information more quickly and can track 30 percent more objects than non video game players…
Pope and his colleague Olafur Palsson, a clinical psychologist at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, have designed custom-made video games that help children with attention deficit disorder by teaching them how to control their brainwave patterns. Collectively, said Pope, his and Palsson’s research and that of Bavelier and Green shows that video games are good for something and thus should not always get a “bad rap. (Roach)
Rarely do we hear about the good of gaming because the media wants us to look down on video games, and wants us to believe that if you play a video game that we are rotting our brain out. It’s very obvious that the negative effect gaming or gamers have on society is rooted in a fear or belief that violent video games cause violent behavior.
While the negative portrayals of video games are still in the spotlight, the positive side is starting to surface. Popular websites like Facebook and Pop Cap are an example of how games are entering main stream society. Facebook uses games that simulate farming and maintaining an aquarium to help friends connect over the internet while Pop Cap offers quick 5 minute game play to help a person get over a boring moment of their day. Both of these sites offer video games that challenge the mind and their ability to reach an end goal, not unlike popular games like Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda or Metroid. Most psychiatrists even say that video games help people relieve their anxiety, depression, or anger by letting them vent in a world where there is no reality. According to “Casual Video Games can Reduce Stress”, an article on USA Today by Mike Snider, there was research to find if playing casual games, like those found on PopCap and Facebook, helped with depression.
Researchers at the East Carolina University Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic found that patients who played Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Bookworm Adventures reduced by more than half their depression symptoms. The study, conducted with 59 subjects between August and November 2010, was underwritten by PopCap Games; the research is expected to be published later this year in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. (Snider)
The truth is, video games are little more than an escape. Any belief that they are more than that is mostly exaggerated and out of context. People don’t want to take responsibility for their actions so they use something as a scapegoat. More often than not, all types of media are targeted and seen as problems. Most people in society are quick to blame video games, movies or TV shows for real problems. When looking at a tragedy like Columbine people were quick to blame music, video games and bullying when later it was revealed that the attackers were manic depressive and sociopaths. Had the parents been more involved in their lives, the situation might not have happened. The real problem just might be the people themselves or the parents raising them.
When we begin to dive into the actual community of gamers and how they are grouped you end up finding a varied community. When I think of myself as a gamer and how the community I am a part of was formed, I can look at the genre of games I played. I consider myself part of the action/puzzle gaming community. There are many genre and sub-genre communities that gamers fall into and sometimes they fall into many different ones at once. The community you become a part of is usually formed by experiencing many different games as you grow up or expand your library of games.
When it comes to the roles that a person can play in these types of communities it usually involves giving feedback to the developers of the game and helping other gamers out with problems or situations in game. There are no specific roles that people have when it comes to this community, other than feedback or normal banter. When you begin to talk about conflicts or tensions in a community of gamers the list is too long. There are arguments about what games are better, what way to beat a certain level design is better and so on. There are even those who get into heated arguments or verbal fights over what franchise of games are better. It is normally the lighter side of games and usually ends in a series of internet meme name calling. This is usually the best, and comical, way for developers to know that they made an engaging and entertaining game.
The number one advantage to being in these communities is the opportunity to make new friends and find new games to play. I can relate to this because I have made numerous friends all across the country and in other countries. The best part of being a gamer is being able to connect with people like you who have similar ideals and thoughts. You are able to share ideas, suggestions and thoughts with like individuals instead of being cast out for liking something that isn’t the norm for others.
When you break down the individuals of each community you can see how they make up the community and how the community is a product of those individuals in it. There are examples of how this is reversed. These are most prominently seen in the blog writers and journalists in the gaming industry. Bloggers and journalists can have an impactful way of how gamers buy and play games. This is the example of how an individual can be influenced or become a product of the community.
I know that not everyone looks at video games with an open mind and I am okay with this. I know that there are those who will always be steadfast against them while allowing their children to watch R rated movies at the age of 13. When it comes down to the root of the problems and solutions, it’s up to the parents to decide what is best for a child. No one can tell you how to raise your child. Just remember that it’s better to be more involved with your children than to let your children be involved in anything; including games.