The Political Implications Of Computer Games

by : Victor Epand

There has been a great deal of argument over the years as to whether computer games and video games have any meaning whatsoever, or whether they are a mindless form of entertainment. Comments and arguments are frequently made on both sides in support of their own arguments and opinions, and of course, demonstrating how the opposing group's arguments are untrue. Those opposed to computer games argue that computer games are mostly concerned with violence, and that simply spending hours each day destroying and killing anything that moves, and most things that don't, is not only meaningless, but more likely to encourage aggression and violence in the real world. With the increases and advances in graphical realism made by possible with today's fast computer processing, the argument against computer games and video games continues with the suggestion that so much of this meaningless violence and aggression is realistic that it may de-sensitize the players, so that in the real world they have less of a resistance to violence should it occur.

The argument against this is that although video games years ago were fairly meaningless, and that the idea was very simply to destroy anything which moved, the concept of video gaming has developed so much that it is no longer a passive activity in which players become mindless zombies learning to attack anything they see. Video games today have far more complex storylines and background context in to which the characters are placed. It is no longer a clear cut divide between the 'good' side and the 'bad side', and players may find that they are in situations in which no easy decision can be made as to who is good and who isn't. In this situation, the player needs to make a number of moral judgements, considering the ramifications of any action they take.

Often in video games today players have a choice of which faction, group or race they play, and it becomes easier to identify with the various factions within a game, and the players learn to see things from more than just one aside. Very often there are political, religious or other social divide which separates characters within a storyline, and by investigating scenarios more fully, carrying out research, talking to people and exploring the situation as fully as possible, only then can layers start to untangle the situation and make decisions as to what they should do.

Again, unlike older games, there is often no right answer or correct course of action, simply alternative consequences to any action that a player does decide to take. By killing one person and helping another, the social and political ramifications will spread wide and far, and the true consequences may not be realised until much farther down the line. This increase in focus on such deep matters makes modern gaming a world away from anything mindless, and it can be argued that modern video games may actually have a role to play in helping people to understand the wider story of a real world situation.