Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Are video games the problem?

Few things annoy me more than the "violent video games" argument, which has been volleyed back between Republicans and Democrats since the early 2000s. Although I do think that parents should moderate which games their children are playing, I don't think that running someone over in a car in Grand Theft Auto is a sign that a person is secretly a psychopath, and I certainly think that uninformed politicians should stop making it a talking point. It's hard to explain why games are fun, and it's even harder to rationalize why fighting or war-based games can be appealing, but I stand by the fact that they don't create murderers. Now, if there was a game where the player was required to dismember or violently and purposefully murder a character for the sake and pleasure of doing so, I might concede that games have gone too far. Following the standard that "video games create murderers," you might wonder how the 1965 release of the popular board game Operation didn't create a generation of doctors.

Ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their interests and actions, and video games have simply become the latest bogeyman. Plenty of people love horror movies, but few people dismember corpses in their basements based on the latest thriller. Likewise, an interest in detective stories has not led the vast majority of fans to recreate their favorite macabre murders.

Now, the question still exists, if empathy games promote empathy, why shouldn't video games promote violence? I argue that this is for the same reason that good books inspire a love of reading. Excellent, moral books inspire feeling deep within a reader that inspires them to act. In a similar way, empathy games make one think about the thoughts and feelings of others. On the other hand, "violent" video games tend to be about strategy-- not feeling. You act based on goals, which inspires a different kind of thought process that has nothing to do with emotion, and that's not a bad thing. It's just different. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy-- and the opposite of empathy games isn't violent video games, it's active hateful games.

Do you think this is a [*************] game?

In class, I played Spent, and it was so interesting that I showed a friend over the weekend. Spent is a thought provoking game because it shows the player the hard decisions that a less fortunate person is faced with on a daily basis. The idea of an empathy game that gives you a look into another way of life is powerful, and it made me think about how reading a book can help the reader to understand a different point of view. This also happens through documentaries and movies, so why not with games? People love playing games, and I think they can be the next frontier of meaningful communication. In playing Spent with my friend, we were able to talk through choices and implications, and it really made us consider the way other people live their lives.

You have the Audacity to ask me to edit sounds?

Here is the link to my Audacity project. The assignment was to work with a transition-- Alan's example was life- from birth to death. I thought a lot about transitions and the idea of seasons popped into my head. There are sounds that are distinctly associated with certain times of the year, and these sounds evoke memories that are dear to the listener. For spring- I thought of running water, in the form of melting snow and rain. For summer, I thought of waves, which evoke memories of summer at the beach. For autumn, I thought of crackling bonfires and wolves howling-- a nod to my love for Halloween (and my belief that we should change the name of the season from "autumn" to "Halloween." Finally, for winter, I used the sound of footsteps crunching across a snowy field. Backing all of this, I chose a light classical track that matched up conveniently well with my clips, and I worked the clips in by fading them in and out. I had a great time finally cracking the Audacity code, and I'm proud of my result!

Where the idea began

The process!
Collaborating with Cairo:

After looking through the projects being developed by the students in Cairo, I have chosen to work with Merna, whose empathy game in on the topic of single mothers in the patriarchal Arab society. I am already impressed by the work that Merna has done toward her game, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the "do games cause ____" is problematic to assume one thing as a driver of human behavior. I'd suggested we are too complex a creature to be triggered by a single thing. People who act out on violence are drawing upon a stream of experience and influence that its seems too simplistic to assign blame.

    Your sound story is a beautiful idea to use the cycle of seasons, and thus implying we can repeat this loop for our life time. Great concept, and well executed.