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Video games: Violent upbringings or beneficial entertainment?

By Rudy Mix

Guns, a screen, and a controller. Chances are that if one sees words like this, they already know the topic video games. It’s a booming industry that has been blamed for issues in crime ever since 1976’s “Death Race.” But, not all of these games are bad, there are many circumstances in which video games can be an incredible outlet and form of media. Even though nowadays the politicians are pointing fingers, originally the media reported the somewhat untrue claim that video games cause people to be more violent. The fact that video games can be beneficial is shown by how they help parts of the brain, eyesight, and those dealing with mental conditions cope with their conditions.

Video games can be beneficial to one’s brain. There is quite a bit of proof from Huffington Post that playing something on a screen can help with one’s brain development and better brain function.

One way that video games have been proven to improve the brain is with how action games can expand the hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. According to the Huffington Post, in a study where people were asked to play “Super Mario 64” for 30 minutes every day for two months while other people were asked not to play video games. It was found in the study that the people who played for 30 minutes a day had improvements in spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning, and fine motor skills.

Another thing that playing an action game such as that does is that it gives is an increase in brain volume. This increase could be related to the improvements as mentioned before. If this is true, then playing video games can be a healthy thing because they help with the brain and do not turn it to mush as much of the media and public believes.

Video games are able to help people cope with mental conditions as seen through SPARX.

Though it may be surprising to some, quite a few people have been able to cope with depression due to video games. This has been seen in a study conducted by researchers in New Zealand in which they studied teenagers who had depression and how video games affected them. For this study, participants either took regular depression therapy or played a game that was made with the intent to cure depression, SPARX, a fantasy based role-playing video game in which players fight against darkness. At the end of the study, it was concluded that SPARX actually did a better job at helping people cope with depression than traditional therapy. This method was more effective due to how the teenagers enjoyed playing the game rather than going through tedious therapy.

Not all video games are taken into account when discussing them. The media likes to focus on specific games and specific content of those games. However, the media does not take into account other genres nor even other games of what they are talking about. Without thinking of those, the media can make massive generalizations by saying things like “Video games make people more violent.” A statement such as that generalizes a brilliant form of interactive media. There are other things in the gaming industry besides first-person shooters (which the media heavily focuses on), or M-rated gorefests with every expletive imaginable. There are things such as RPGs, platformers, strategy, and even card games. The media looks at these games that are M rated for good reason, and only takes the most gruesome part of them, giving the games little chance.

The reason that the media sees video games as such a bad thing is that they likely do not realize that there are ratings for video games just like movies. Nobody ever blames movies for causing violence in people, it is only video games. This is probably due to how the media sees kids playing these M-rated games, and do not realize that these games have ratings. Video games can make people more empathetic and willing to be social, especially with the explosion of multiplayer games. People can be willing to help out friends that they may never see in reality, committing to wondrous acts of compassion.

These video games are not the things causing immediate harm to the youth, though they are easy to blame. But before something is blamed, one must research it, something that the news and media rarely do.

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