Why Video Games Suck For Indoctrination

from the so-they-say dept

While there’s still an ongoing debate about whether or not video games actually do lead to increased youth violence (something that the aggregate data would seem to suggest is unlikely), there’s another, related discussion going on. Apparently, some commentators are concerned that extremists are indoctrinating kids through video games. Clive Thompson has an interesting discussion pointing out not only that the games they’re talking about don’t look likely to indoctrinate anyone in anything, but also noting that games, in general, just aren’t very good for indoctrination at all. While someone just watching a game may focus attention on the “story line” relating to the game, the gamer tends to be much more focused on the game. That is, they’re focused on the rules and actions in the game and how to win — not the story line or what it might be trying to teach them. He notes that this doesn’t just apply to video games, but to games like chess: “They don’t look down at the board and think, oh, this is a war-like situation in which a powerful queen is defending a hapless, old, past-his-prime king. They just see abstract forces, the platonic interactions of the game’s rule-set.” Now, where are the lawyers trying to sue the makers of chess sets for encouraging violence and war?

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Comments on “Why Video Games Suck For Indoctrination”

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cynicdave (user link) says:


I think we should think of TV, Games, Movies as any other form of communications. I dunno about you, but I feel not all video games are the same. Some games are on the “score” aspect, while others are about the story aspect. I dunno about some people but I played Knight of the Old Republic (the star wars game) because of the fantastic storyline, and I appreciated the game awarding me for good or bad behavior.

It seems to be though, that games which promote a lot of violence have less story line, and games which do have story line have a little less violence. So maybe sub consciously, everyone knows where to draw the line?

Even in GTA 3, the violence looks pretty cartoon like. Compared to the bullet holes in other video games, the whole thing is pretty stylized and comedic.

Gattster says:

No Subject Given

Maybe I’m not your average video game player, but I have been indoctrinated by video games.

Example 1: My political views have been influenced by games like Civilization and Risk. Remember that, in Civilization, when you’re a democracy and about to attack another country, some BS excuse gets created? My views on the Iraq war must be somewhat shaped by my playing Civ at a young age.

Example 2: Games like World of Warcraft that let you play as the “bad guys” have an effect. When you play as the horde in WoW, you realize that the lines between good and bad are not always so clear. Now I’ve heard plenty of conservatives criticize us liberals for seeing the good inside of everybody. Did video games help me see that there are 3 sides to every story?

Angryoaf says:

Re: No Subject Given

R.E. example 2:
Or maybe you are just a rational thinking human being and you realize that there is no black and white, that there are many shades of gray and maybe we should stop trying to take credit for “good” things about our own humanity while trying to blame the “bad” on other things.

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