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Good or bad: Which way video games?

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Boniface Mithika | July 25th 2021

Tekken - Video game.

A lot has been said about video games. Some say they are bad due to violence and gory images. Some are shunned as having vulgar language while others have been praised for enabling young minds to grow.

Some of these arguments have substance in them. Video games have a great influence on children and their developing brains. They need instructions and guidance before getting immersed into such games. Video games are time consuming and this may accustom one’s mind to believing that what they see is normal.

The debate over whether violence depicted in these games can trigger real-world violence was brought to limelight when a gunman went on a killing spree in Texas and made reference to video game soldiers; proving he was familiar with such games.

And there is a reason to worry; some studies claiming to have found a link between video games and real life aggression.

“Too much of everything is poisonous. One should consider moderation instead of going all in and spending their entire brains in a game. Furthermore, it is just a game,” said Tilomai Ponder, the co-founder of What’s Good Studios in an earlier interview

Video games have also been linked to a variety of mental and physical ailments. Just the other day, a Kenyan boy aged 17 killed himself playing a game that encouraged death. The last challenge was to take your life so as to be crowned the champion. Leading unwitting children down a path their parents wouldn’t think would be the case in a ‘fun pastime’ activity.

In an essay titled ‘Introduction To Video Games; At Issue’ it is mentioned that people who play violent video games become much more aggressive when dealing with other people.

“Watching violent content conditions you to be more accepting to violence. You may get the notion that the gory images are not a big deal since you are used to it. But for someone like me who takes this as a career I focus on a not so violent game and that keeps me in check,” says Peter Mumu, a pro-gamer

While many studies have made a connection between violent games and aggression, it was also found that teens who played mature rated violent video games were also more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, dangerous driving and risky sexual behavior.

If a child plays children-rated video games for short durations of time they are less likely to be violent. But if they play for longer durations playing extremely addictive games they are more likely to be aggressive.

On the other hand; it is not all gloom for video gamers. Although they are mostly dismissed as couch potatoes, they have some advantages derived from playing such games. People who play video games were faster at performing procedures and made fewer mistakes than those who don’t.

Gaming is also considered a real workout for the brain. 

Gamers have also been said to have good social skills, and perform better academically since they are accustomed to solving complex puzzles.

At the end of the day, we can’t rule out gaming as the main reason leading to children delinquency as it all depends on what game, and how much control a parent has on what their children consume.

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