Saturday, September 15, 2007

Video games: What Do Games Teach Kids?

Many parents question the ethics of video games. Many parents say that video games are the reason for kids knowing violence and using violence in the real world. However, I find this isn't the case in most situations involving video games, violence, and kids.

Some kids happen to play video games and are violent. This doesn't mean that the video taught them the violence, or convinced them that violence was ok in the real world. The majority of the time, these kids also see violence in television, movies, the neighborhood they grew up in, and even in their homes. Every child is exposed to violence, but must be taught how to react to it. This is where most parents have a problem. If the child isn't taught how to respond to violence, the parents leave it up to the child and his or her immature mind to make a decision on how to handle the violence they are experiencing.

Why do video games get blamed? Video games get blamed because the parents don't want to take a fault, or step up and admit that they didn't raise their child the best they possibly could. How can this be true? Everyone believes the parents, because in society, adults are looked at as people who can be trusted (usually). Another reason parents don't question the fact that other parents raised their kids poorly is because parents don't want to put themselves in a position where others can question the way they raise their kids. (A side note: Even if video games were the cause of the violence shown in kids, who bought the child the video game anyways) No matter what it goes back to the parents.

So what are the positive possibilities of video games? This is something a lot harder to see. Why is this so hard to see? Simply because anything positive learned from video games, isn't associated with video games. More specifically, this includes many historical facts, in games such as Civilization, Stronghold, and even Rome: Total War. This knowledge is so easily overlooked because it is also taught in a classroom. So, parents naturally just think their kid is actually learning something in school. Personally I have countless experiences of sitting in a history class, (completely bored as it may be) until the teacher asks a question. I know the answer. But why? This shouldn't be happening. This is school, and I didn't even read last nights assignment. Then I realize, no wait, a galley is the type of boat I built last night while playing civilization.

I am not saying that there isn't a kid somewhere, who no matter what, will experience violence, and express it in society. I am simply saying that parents can typically prevent children from expressing this violence. First of all, don't buy your kid the game that is rated M. It's for adults who are mature. (Maybe some adults shouldn't buy the game) But in no way should a 9 year old kid play a game that is rated M. They simply aren't mature enough to handle it, especially if a parent hasn't explained that movies and video games are FAKE. Secondly, take the time with your kid. Not two minutes every week, that's not a parents job. A parents job is twenty four seven, and if you can't handle it, then don't sign up for it.


bucket of calculators said...

I really like what you have to say here tech man. I am somewhat bias to your opinion, seeing that I like video games and hate being told that they are giving me bad "ideas" and hearing that children mimik what they play. It all comes back to, if not at least the majority, the parents.

Parents should always emphasize to their kids the importance of knowing good morals, such as being kind to others, doing the right thing, to not participate in illegal activities, etc. A child's behavior is reflected by their parents' actions and decisions. If the parents swear and yell, then the kids will sometimes, but not always, develop the same type of mannerisms. If the parents tell their kids its ok to play video games, then the children will think its ok to kill in a game. But if the parent doesn't want their children to participate in such violent acts, then they should not allow them to play such games. They should watch what their kids do, know what their kids like. Parents have to be stern with their kids about what they should and shouldn't do. Kids should know right from wrong. This should be done at an early age and frequently, not just once or twice for 5 minutes.

I know I am no expert and far from being a parent myself, but I look at my parents. They are both loving and wise. They always told me the difference between right and wrong, they discuss what is real and not real, they have lectured on the importance of doing the right thing when in the wrong situation. I have always been a good kid, never doing anything violent in anyway (except kill aliens on a TV screen). I know it's not real and understand that using a gun isn't safe in reality. So hopefully parents will stop pointing fingers and realize they are the reason why their kids have made some of their bad decisions.

The Dimer said...

I couldn't have said it any better myself. I'm sick of the media always feeding people of today all that bull. Why should video games get a bad rap because "Little Timmy" got in a few fights and just so happens to play video games? Oh wait, you answered it perfectly. Great Post

Nox said...

To build upon what you said, video games teach more than just historical facts. Almost every game teaches some level of problem solving, because puzzles are used in all shapes and sizes to make the game more interesting and give the player a sense of accomplishment in games. If the entire game is nothing but mindlessly mowing down horde after horde of enemies, the player will quickly become bored.

More on the end of online games, they often teach teamwork and people skills. I have extensive experience with World of Warcraft, and I can tell you that players will get nowhere unless they can work with other players and be courteous. Even if someone manages to get into a group, they won't be there long if they're always a jerk, and the most advanced stages of the game are only reachable with the tight cooperation of 10 to 25 people.

Cucku said...

But nox, regardless of any sort of teamwork skills someone can learn from playing video games, think of what skills someone could learn if they were doing something else. I'd argue that the only way to truly develop interpersonal skills is to be in the physical presence of other people.

Online, perhaps you'll get the skills you need to coordinate a Zerg rush, but how often is that necessary in real life? But that's just saying video games are a waste of time. Think of the other sorts of interaction you might have. If you're playing Counterstrike or Battlefield 2, you're learning how to effectively move in and kill a bunch of people, if you're communicating at all. You learn skills to maximize deadliness, you figure out how to kill the greatest number of people. If that's effective teamwork, I still sure as hell wouldn't want my child to be learning that. But I think the problem is not the possibility that kids might reproduce the violence they see in games, but that games actually prevent other activity that could be of benefit to the child.

The goal of a video game publisher is to make a game that is as desirable to play as possible. The more you want to, and do, play a game, the less time you have to do other things during your day. You're not going to develop social skills, you're not going to get homework done, the grand total of your learning will be absolutely nothing. And no, finding out what items you need to complete Trang-Oul's set doesn't count as learning, especially if you spend 40 hours of your life running futile Baal runs to find them.

As a final note, I'm not writing this because I've never played games, or because I didn't play enough or the right games. And certainly there's nothing wrong with a little recreational gaming, either. I've played a whole lot of games for a whole lot of time, thousands of hours of my life have been wasted doing effectively nothing.

The message here is, games are too addictive to let your kids play them all the time. Make them go outside and play kickball with the other kids once in a while.

Nox said...

My argument wasn't that video games are the best thing to be spending your time on, I was simply arguing that at least they're getting a little of something rather than nothing. So its more like finding the silver lining.

Besides, you always have those games out there that aren't so run of the mill and are geared specifically towards teaching kids. But even with those you can argue a kid doesn't get enough social interaction. Oh well, all the more to talk about I suppose.

M. Simon said...

Video games don't teach any of that stuff.

Sadly it is inherent in the nature of man and the game designers (who want to stay in business) sell to the market.