Whenever I read articles or hear news reports about video games and their apparent link to violence, I can't help but feel offended. I have played games my entire life and they have never made me violent towards another person. I am more likely to get annoyed at myself and squeeze my controller in anger during a tricky boss fight or particularly hard puzzle. What irks me the most in the violence debate is those people who latch on to first person shooter games, as if they are the only games people play.
|Ahh, endless hours and hours of mining and building...|
The main reason? Well at their core, they are peaceful, passive games. Sure, you can choose to play on Survival Mode in Minecraft and fight zombies and spiders but it's a choice. For the most part, Minecraft is a game where the player is invited to build anything they want to, it focuses on play, discovery and actualising ideas.
|The height of grand design; a detached, environmentally friendly 4-bedroom town house with unique features like a balcony and private pool. You got it!|
|Hey, I made you this salad. What do you mean you don't like cucumber?! I don't think we can date anymore.|
Slightly odd, produce metaphor aside, Minecraft is a game where you craft and build (you can even harvest vegetables!) Even Survival Mode requires lot of planning and time-management.
It's a game that actively encourages creating things from scratch, even down to the material gathering or mining. If you want to create a structure, you need to work out how to do it, appropriate the correct materials and then assemble them. In a world where things come ready-made and people would rather pay other people to do things for them, Minecraft reinforces the idea that working hard and doing something yourself is more satisfying because not only do you appreciate the effort that has gone into it, you made something.
It's an extremely rewarding game which is what makes it so additive. The addictive quality of games like these gives them immense re-play value maintaining their popularity.
|Look at the elephants....aww, look at them! Now make sure they don't die, that's on you.|
Another factor in their unrelenting popularity is that open-ended games are so very vast. SimCity in particular stole many hours of my life because I kept on wanting to make my city bigger and bigger. For example, when I first played a SimCity game, I became incredible obsessive over my tiny inhabitants, I made sure that they definitely were not paying an unreasonable level of tax.
|Screw you Batman, I look after my city.|
That's another reason world building games will always remain popular, ultimately you get to play God. You have in your hands a controller, the buttons you chose to press and your intention determines the fictional, pixellated lives of others. Of course, you also learn that there's a fine balance between ultimate control and responsibility, lest you go crazy with power.
Lessons like this can only be found in world building games. Unless you play the SimCity spin off games because I don't know a single other person who plays The Sims franchise or the various expansions, who hasn't placed their sims in a pool and taken away the steps or set a room on fire and deleted all the doors. For some bizarre reason, we have all done those things not because we're horrible psychopaths but really, out of genuine curiosity to see what happens and to test the boundaries of the game.
|What? We've all done it|
However... I hate to be the responsible adult now, but kids are impressionable; even aged 8, I knew that if you see wrestlers fighting on TV that you are definitely going to try those moves out after school with your friends...I mean, duh?! My point is, if you're letting your 10 year child play a game rated PEGI 18 and you notice they are imitating violent acts or picking up bad language, that's on you and not the games.
Not all games are violent, all games have age ratings and if an 18 years old wants to play Grand Theft Auto V and kill a bunch of AI, 'take' drugs and bang prostitutes then that's up to that adult. He or she knows what is real and what isn't. For example, incase you haven't noticed, I'm no longer a stupid 8 year old that bruises herself and accidentally hurts her friends because she thinks wrestling is the best and she can totally perform the People's Elbow. I know now that wrestling is an act, it's for sport and is performed by trained professionals. That, and The Rock is still a badass. Just like I know, when I play a video game... I am playing a video game.
|I don't know what this comic is but I do know that I want to read it really badly now...if you know, please comment!|
On a serious note though, I am very much addicted to Zoo Tycoon at the moment...I think I might have to open a zoo when I retire.