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Video games are now commonplace, having grown from being the domain of the geekiest kids in the ’70s and ’80s to mainstream fare in the ’90s and ’00s. In the ’10s you can play video games on dedicated consoles, set-top boxes, computers, tablets, smartphones, and many more devices I’ve probably forgotten to list. They’re here, and they’re here to stay, and yet the debate over whether they’re a force for good or evil is still ongoing.

Mainstream media and politicians tend to take one piece of anecdotal or coincidental evidence and use it to condemn the industry. Gamers and liberals tend to ignore the issue completely, refusing to even consider the possibility that video games aren’t serving society in a positive manner. It’s a debate that has to be had, and, hopefully, put to bed sooner rather than later.

We attempted to do just that with last week’s We Ask You column. The results of which can be consumed below.

The Results

We asked you, Are Video Games Good Or Bad For Society? We had a great response, with dozens of MakeUseOf readers weighing in with their views on the subject at hand. It’s a topic which stirs some emotions, with gamers eager to defend their pastime of choice while non-gamers see an easy target just waiting to be attacked. Thankfully our readership comprises an intelligent and coherent set of people.

This isn’t really a debate that can be summed up in a couple of paragraphs, so I strongly urge you to read through the full thread at the bottom of last week’s article (link above). However, there is a definite split of around 70/30 percent (gathered in a totally non-scientific manner) of comments arguing that games are good for society rather than bad.


The more interesting points made include:

  • All video games cannot and should not be lumped together.
  • Parents need to take more responsibility over which titles their children play.
  • Blaming video games for the ills of society makes for good headlines.
  • Video games are likely to become a more intrinsic part of society as time goes on.
  • And finally… (almost) everything is fine in moderation.

Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of Kirby, Tahmid, and Rubis Song, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Richard Seese, who won with this comment:

Q: Do you believe video games are good or bad for society as a whole?
A: They are absolutely good. Most individuals nowadays seek video games as a temporary escape from the outside world. They give us adventures just like a book. They give us imagination, just like a book. They give us inspiration, just like art.
For people with disabilities, it is a way to reach out to others, while having fun (instead of wasting away on Facebook, or worse, alone). For people with social anxiety issues, it allows them to interact with others who have common goals. For the competitors in us, it allows us to shine, and work to be the best.
Q: Can the blame for any of the current ills of the world be leveled at video games?
A: Absolutely not. Look at other countries around the world that have the same games as us Americans. Look at their statistics for murders. The problem with America today, is that it’s such a melting pot, with zero responsibility for ones actions. If someone is mentally ill, should they be allowed to own a gun? No. On the same token, should someone mentally ill have access to violent video games? Probably not, depending on the type of illness. Whose responsibility is it, to ensure that’s enforced? Not the manufacturer. Not the retail store that sold the game. The parents or loved ones around someone who has issues coping with and understanding reality.
Parents should take advantage of the game ratings, and decide what’s best for their children. Loved ones should be working with doctors, to ensure mentally ill people have the proper treatment. Human beings that are completely capable of handling reality, and are of a mature age should not have to suffer entertainment at the hands of people placing blame on anything but themselves.
Q: Are there any changes you’d like to see made within the industry?
A: Yes. They should continue to raise awareness of the issues I brought up above, and engage parents more. Sadly, the only people who will stick up for the industry, is the industry themselves. They need to continue fighting the good fight, and not back down.

With this comment Richard not only answered the main question but also tackled a couple of the sub-questions we asked. In other words going above and beyond what was needed to add something noteworthy to the debate. He also makes great points, arguing why, in his mind at least, video games are good. His main point being that there are bigger problems at the heart of society.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: jimsheaffer

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  1. Anthony Ngo
    April 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Video games can be craved into one of the most beautiful inventions humans have ever seen like the music you hear in Halo that gives emotion. Or it could create destruction like if someone was to play a violent video game and is addicted to guns and buys one to shoot people. Video games can be good for ones self while can be bringers of destruction.

  2. Dee Wheat
    February 8, 2013 at 1:17 am

    The truth is that video games, and computers themselves, for that matter, are tools. So is a chainsaw. And like a chainsaw, they can be used to make things that are useful and even beautiful, or they can be used for destruction. How you use a tool is your responsibility, and yours alone.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 11, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Beautifully said.

  3. Clint Norwood
    February 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Isn't it odd that advertisers pay millions of dollars to make commercials to influence our behavior yet video games have no influence on our behavior?

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 11, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Yes. If anything, I think law to regulate advertisements (such as limitations to children's products ads) would do much better than regulating video games.

  4. Scott Macmillan
    February 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

    When they first began they were of great use in familiarizing people with computers and developing competence with the various features and keyboards etc.As with anything though a certain segment of society will always find a method of turning it into an addiction.I think for the most part games are simply harmless fun.For the ten percent of people among us.the games have become drugs just like anything else that is feasted upon greedily.

    • Dave Parrack
      February 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      There is something in that, but only in terms of addiction or overuse of anything can be harmful. Video games aren't exempt from that.

  5. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 7, 2013 at 6:55 am

    something to think about seriously...

    • Dave Parrack
      February 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Definitely. The two sides should look at the facts and have an open and honest debate rather than flinging mud at each other.