Are Video Games Good Or Bad For Society? [We Ask You]

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Video games have now been with us for more than 40 years, and in that time they’ve evolved from simple concepts brought forth by muddy visuals (such as the Atari classics) to complex and involving gameplay made real by detailed visuals (such as the best games of 2012). In recent years they’ve also grown from niche hobby to mainstream fodder, especially with the emergence of casual games, and consequently casual gamers.

Strangely, video games have always been a source of controversy. In the early days it was parents worrying about kids spending all their money in arcades, and now it’s a whole range of issues which we’ll be outlining below. It’s high time we, and by that I mean both gamers and non-gamers alike, have a serious, even-tempered debate about the effect video games are having on society. If any. Which is the subject of this week’s We Ask You.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, Are Video Games Good Or Bad For Society? On the surface this is a simple question with only two possible answers. But that’s not how we want to play this. Think long and hard about what effect you feel video games are having on individuals, relationships, and society as a whole. To help kick-start your gray matter, let’s look at some common beliefs about video games.

Video games are blamed for encouraging real-life violence, specifically gun crimes where one person goes on a rampage. They’re blamed for promoting inactivity among children, which will inevitably lead to obesity. And they’re blamed for dumbing down society, as most youngsters would rather play the latest Call Of Duty than read a book.

They’re the negatives most people opposed to video games will spout whether asked to or not. But there are also positives. Video games can improve hand-to-eye coordination. They can help children learn new skills, such as problem-solving and those associated with cognition. And competing against others can help foster social skills against different types of online gamer.

Those short lists represent merely a soupçon of the pluses and minuses attributed to video games. And it’s time to see which side of the fence the MakeUseOf readership sits on. Do you believe video games are good or bad for society as a whole? Can the blame for any of the current ills of the world be leveled at video games? Are there any changes you’d like to see made within the industry? If so, what are they?

Don’t just answer with “Good” or “Bad,” instead let us know the reasons behind your thoughts, whether they are purely instinctual or keenly objective.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and 150 MakeUseOf points to use for MakeUseOf Rewards. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

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Image Credit: jimsheaffer

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Comments (57)
  • Aska Nag

    I think that video games are needed. I already middle-aged man, I have two children, so that I can judge about this quite adequately. To remove tension, stress after a day of work I like to spend a few hours at the computer, playing their favorite games, RPG and strategy. And this I do not cause any amotivational aggression or unwillingness to read books. But people need to be able to cope with their weaknesses, and not stupidly depend on something in particular of video games.

  • Lisa Santika Onggrid

    I’m definitely with the pro side. Video game is good to society if used right. As with anything else, the key is moderation. It’d stop being good when you’re heavily addicted.
    I grew up with video games. Dear parents or child advocate who are against video games, I tell you, it helped me learn English with all the idioms and slang, something I couldn’t get in classroom and I develop great deal of logic spending time formulating the best strategy to beat the games. My academic achievement is satisfying, and my over-achiever friends are all gamers too. We used to discuss games inbetween classes, and we used elements of video game to aid in our study (also known as ‘gamification’). Based on some games I liked, I also developed interest on some specialized subjects like World History and did research on my own. Yes, video game is okay for your children.
    Also, screw anyone who said it’d cripple your social life. In fact, we bonded with our cousins and relatives by playing together in whenever we met. Video game is a nice topic for ice-breaking, and it has connected me with many like-minded people.
    You don’t like what your children are playing? Sit with them and discuss it together. You can’t ban the whole internet so they won’t see porn. Same principle applies here. By being open minded, you can watch the industry and help them be better. If you have time, maybe try to play with your kids. You can help them pick appropriate titles to their ages, or explain questionable contents to them. They’re more likely to hear adults who try to understand their world.
    Adults who play video games, remember it’s all for fun, take the goodness and leave the bad sides. Remember your responsibility. People tend to look down to those who play video games mostly because they make themselves look like that. If you play video game and is a decent person, you’re cool.
    I hope I’m not too harsh. The society’s misguided stereotype stems from both sides. Those who protests rarely look past the troubled ones, and on the other hand, we gamers sometime don’t help the established image.

  • Aaron Chung

    I say it is good cause it allows people to just relax and express their feelings without ever doing any harm to anyone

  • sl0j0n

    Some video games are “good” for the individual,
    but most are harmful.
    One kid shoot up his school, killing several.
    When asked how he learned to shoot, since no one in his family had guns,
    he said he learned from video games.
    The U.S. Army uses video games to recruit and train infantry soldiers.
    If the games did not work in that regard,
    the Army would not have invested in “America’s Army”,
    the video game that cost $32.8 million.
    Video games have been called “murder simulators” partly because of the desensitization effect the games have on players.
    Combined with the many other sources of psychological and emotional influences designed to dehumanize children and young adults, who have not yet developed the mental abilities to protect themselves from negative and harmful affects of conscious and subconscious indoctrination, it should be obvious that anything that promotes violence in that context is harmful.
    Video games can be useful, but the design and focus has far more often been towards a purpose that, like poison or artificial ingredients in food, has harmful effects on the consumers while maximizing profits for the producers.
    Video games are like tobacco; addictive, poisonous, and very profitable.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid

      You raised some good points, but I want to say:
      Video game is indeed a good aid in acquiring certain traits/skills, as it’s essentially interactive simulator by design. However, killing pixels on your screen is totally different from killing real life people with blood and flesh, so I can’t agree with your argument of ‘desensitization’. They might be able to handle a real gun. Whether they’re able to use said gun to do the deed is up to the individuals. I believe kids like the one you mentioned were just blaming video games in attempt to justify their actions. They certainly had some kind of disorder for being able to do what they did.
      Ratings were invented specifically because of the reason you said. Therefore moral guardians should be smart instead of hysteric.

    • Dave Parrack

      Tobacco kills you, video games do not. The question of desensitization is a good one. While I don’t personally believe video games prompt anyone to go on a killing spree, they could well affect someone’s ability to get past the damaging aspect of doing such a horrific thing.

  • Bumferry Hogart

    All the shooting games look the same, all the sports games are just variation of the same theme…. granted there may be one minor thing that sets one against the other, but ultimately games are (or at least should be) for kids to play when its raining.
    Adults who play games more than they speak to potential partners really should be seen by a head doctor.

    • Dave Parrack

      What do you do for fun? Why are games any less of a legitimate pastime, regardless of age, than any other?

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.