You’ve heard politicians and concerned mothers rave and rage against violent video games, terrified that they are corrupting the youth. The question is: Are video games, as a whole, dangerous to children, teens, and adults?
Sex and Violence
Sex and violence are prevalent in many video games, whether it is AAA games of just free-to-play browser games. We often come across female characters that are needlessly sexualized and wearing provocative clothing, especially in the Japanese titles, but the subsection of games that have real sexual content is not that large, percentage-wise.
In terms of violence, games like Mortal Kombat, Saint’s Row, GTA, the Dark Forces game and others went for broke in an effort to shock their audiences. The gore, the brutality, and the sheer absurdity of violence are overwhelming to any child and some teens. That being said, there has been no proven link between video game violence and actual violence.
Much like movies, games have their own rating system, in order to prevent parents from buying an adult game for their impressionable child. That’s why the aforementioned games, judged for their violent and sexual content, are rated as not suitable for children or minors. There are many strategy, adventure, and even action games that can be played by children where the level of actual violence and sex is non-existant.
A bigger problem, one could argue, is the presence of games that are using the mechanics that are not unlike those you see in online casino games. The mechanic of loot boxes has already been outlawed by many European countries. It is a mechanic where, instead of an actual reward, a player unlocks a treasure chest, or something to that effect, that gives the player the opportunity to draw rare items and content. The chances of getting something worthwhile are very low, prompting players to buy more loot boxes. It is, essentially, playing roulette or gacha.
Addiction to games is a real problem, in that it quantifies the success of the players, giving them tasks and rewarding them with equipment or numbers. When players are faced with problems in their personal life, it feels good to have a machine that tells you that you are awesome and to keep it up, thus turning into a heavenly form of escapism.
Like any legal type of risky behavior, alcohol and tobacco included, there is little harm in video games, provided they are used responsibly. This means that you should pay attention to the rating system and limit the playtime. Playing video games can even be a great bonding activity between parent and child if handled properly.
There is also the issue of educational games, problem-solving games, and games that reward a player’s creativity. They can help a person develop. Strategy games, simulations, and point-and-click games are popular genres that provide such content. Nowadays, there are even games for very small children, teaching them the basics of colors and the alphabet, for example.