Morality in Video Games

Many video games present violent and/or explicit (as some would say) situations that have been debated about over a number of years. As games become more visually realistic, they can make the gamer feel more immersed in the action/play of the game while it “desensitizes players to real-world violence….” (Croteau, 103). Even in games that are not violent or explicit, the gamer can be desensitized as to what is real and what is not. If you die in a video game, you will be able to retry the level with no harm done. In real life, we know that there is no such thing as a second chance at life after death. We only have this one life. Video games are constantly blamed for the violence in reality, such as the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999. Even though violence can occur in video games, that does not mean that the person playing the game is a violent person. Gamers who are able to “distinguish between fantasy and reality prevents them from emulating video game violence in real life.” link

A study at the University of Victoria in Canada suggested that “video games can make children more ethically and morally aware.” From their studies, they reasoned that children learn collaboration and leadership skills along with problem solving and strategizing skills. In some games where the gamer’s actions effect the outcome of the game, bad actions/decisions will result in a negative ending while good actions/decisions result in a positive ending. For example, in the game Dishonored, if the player brings about a high rate of chaos, then there will be more death and the ending will be negative. If the player has a low rate of chaos, then there will be fewer deaths and the ending is more positive. These actions could also teach “children to recognize the cause and effect reality of their actions….” A very popular game that engages the player in problem solving skills is The Legend of Zelda series. In every game there are many puzzles and problem solving tasks that the player must complete to be able to move on to the next task. This game requires the gamer to analyze the setting of the game and the tools that are available for the character to use.

Video games can present violence material, but it can also require the mind to critically think about how to solve problems and puzzles. However the player engages in a game they will learn from their actions. I grew up playing video games. But I was never allowed to play games that were rated Teen or higher until around high school. Personally, I dislike the games that reenact wars and that are too violent because I feel that the situations they present can mock reality. Everyone’s opinion on what is moral and what is not is different and it is up to him or her to decide and chose.

Controversial Games

http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/19358/article/top-10-controversial-video-games/

Sources

Croteau, David. Hoynes, William. Media/Society:Industries, Images, and Audiences – fifth edition. SAGE Publications, Inc. 2014

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/video-games-can-make-children-more-morally-aware-8649583.html

http://videogames.procon.org

http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp 

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4 thoughts on “Morality in Video Games”

  1. I was unaware of the study the University of Victoria performed but after reading this blog, I understand how the findings could be true. At the same time, I’m sure competing and contradicting studies have been performed so I would like to see the statistics these studies found. Overall, most of the criticism present in the media about video games is about how they cause harmful actions in real life but this post definitely showed a different, eye-opening perspective.

  2. It is interesting to learn about both sides of the video game argument because most often violent video games are seen in a negative light. It seems like there is a fine line between video games that are too violent and video games that are require critical thinking. I’m sure that these ideas even overlap and that some violent video games require important problem solving skills. There are many video games out there that depict very realistic violence with players as active participants in this media violence. I think that violent video games must influence every player a little differently so parents need to be cognizant of what messages and attitudes their children are taking away from the games they are playing.

    1. Good point. Parents really do need to be aware of how their children are reacting to the games before they make a decision on how much they should limit their usage of games, or just block them from using it all together. I think another big factor is just the personality of the person playing the game. I know a lot of people that play games just for the competition, and couldn’t care less if the game was a puzzle game or a very violent mature game. Then again this brings about other problems if they end up getting addicted and basing their happiness around whether they win or lose in a game.

  3. There may be studies showing some positive things about video games, but as we talked about in class, statistics and study results can be manipulated to show more pure outcomes than they really represent. Even if those studies were exactly as they sound, and video games can help children develop, what could possibly be good about learning fundamental skills from a virtual source? I think it is much healthier to learn leadership and problem solving skills from hands on, real life situations

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