War of Worldcraft

9

Every few years (or every few months, depending), there is someone out there who spends a lot of time and energy trying the place the blame of the world’s ills on video games.

“Oh no! Video games are violent and will warp the brains of poor little children! We must ban / control / destroy them!”  Didn’t you hear? “Studies show” that video games turn your kids into werewolves, or some such nonsense. I suspect these are the same people who declared that “90% of Catholic women use contraceptives!” If you believe that one, I’ve got a Bridge in Brooklyn to sell you if you like.

If one were to believe this incredibly stupid theory, I should be a mass murderer. I have been killing turtles with fireballs since I was eight-years-old and the game was Super Mario Brothers.

 

The amount of aliens I’ve slaughtered in the science fiction war story Halo easily number in the hundreds, if not the thousands. Mysteriously, I manage to go to Mass every Sunday and eight holy days a year, and other strange and abhorrent things in this society – like believe most, if not all, of your standard Baltimore Catechism (I put in “most“ because I skimmed it a little).

Now there are modern games that deal with much more mature themes.  The premise of the Hitman series is obvious by the title, but they are mostly a matter of, well, murder puzzles. Think of it as playing through an episode of Columbo from the murderer’s perspective.  I’ve played it, using it mostly as a thought exercise before I go back to writing my novels.

mass effect

Mass Effect — an epic science fiction choose-your-own adventure where your morals are your character’s morals. My body cout? 300,000. I’m still sane.

The Mass Effect series is one that combines an epic storyline (violence) with the option for a love story (sex), but with surprising amount of character thrown in for fun. For the most part, that last bit is the real fun for players.

It is, at its core, amoral when it comes to the romantic aspects – in this case, it’s a moral as you allow it to be. That actually caused a bit of a stir a while ago, with religious groups condemning the game for allowing same-sex relationships.  The response from the game designers was simple: If you don’t like that option, don’t play that option, have a nice day. The entire premise behind the series is that the whole universe is dictated by the player’s actions, where you can show apathy, interest, or utter disdain.

Half of Hitman is going from point A to point B without being seen.

Half of Hitman is going from point A to point B without being seen.

As I said, I’ve played these games, and I have yet to turn into a sexual deviant or a mass murderer. Much like the cave in The Empire Strikes Back, the effects of videos games rely mostly on what you bring with you.

Games like Mass Effect and Hitman cannot affect young children without the parents’ knowledge. Why? Because there are ratings systems, and no video game store will sell a game rated M for mature without a valid ID.  If there are parents stupid enough to buy a video game without reading it, there’s a problem with the parents, not necessarily the games themselves.

In Halo 4, a human in a battle suit fights "aliens" who don't even have blood spatter. They disintegrate.

In Halo 4, a human in a battle suit fights “aliens” who don’t even have blood spatter. They disintegrate.

Are there video games that are too violent? Sure. Look at a recent Mortal Kombatgame, if you have a strong stomach and don’t mind people being decapitated or cut in half. But I’m not that big into horror movies either. Are there games that focus too much on sex? I’ve heard that they exist, but I think they’re only available in Japanese.

In short, what’s a good Catholic stance on video games? Answer: they’re just video games. They are what you make of them – and if you don’t like the content, don’t buy them. Lighten up.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2013 John Konecsni

Share.

About Author

John Konecsni writes under the alias Declan Finn, and has published a novel, It Was Only On Stun!, a murder comedy set at a science fiction convention He also maintains a blog dedicated to his more important novel, A Pius Man. A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller is an anti-Dan Brown novel, centered about clearing the name of Pope Pius XII. The sequel, A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller focuses on the Catholic church in the modern world. A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller has recently come out, finishing the trilogy. John lives in New York, where he has grown up Catholic, right wing, and a complete and total nerd. After getting degrees in history and philosophy, he has dedicated himself to bringing Truth, Justice, and the Roman Catholic way to anyone he meets.... or at the very least, correct their misapprehensions. It's a full time job, and the pay needs work, though there are some nice benefits attached.

9 Comments

  1. Scott Fischer on

    Ahh, you’re using the same argument that those combating the anti-gun folk make — guns (video games) are bad, ban guns (video games). The game (gun) isn’t evil in and of itself, it’s the person using it and how they use it that could be evil. Well that’s true, but I’d like to challenge you to take this to the next level. Is it useful, good, and holy? As a person who has wasted literally YEARS of my life (I once measured this as more than 6 months-24 hours a day over a 3 year period–about 20% of my existence–playing OMMRPGs. I’d suggest that there’s no intrinsic value in the time spent playing these types of games. It’s not a form of exercise (and I will NOT grant you the argument of it being mental exercise), it’s not a social activity, there’s no opportunity for self-improvement/training/learning, there’s no opportunity for worship or evangelization. It really is a waste of time; you’d be better off napping and having more energy for other pursuits. Your conclusion: “they’re just video games. They are what you make of them – and if you don’t like the content, don’t buy them. Lighten up.” totally ignores the problem.

    • In a survey of World of Warcraft players, 74.7% are dating someone else who plays. Only 33% of dating site users are dating someone from that site. 42% of female gamers are attracted …. another player. Only 14% of Wow players are single. 40% of players tell fellow gamers things they wouldn’t tell their friends.

      No time for socialization? Are you joking, or are you just stupid? It’s my numbers versus your anecdotal evidence. Game over, you lose.

      And just for fun — if you can’t do anything that isn’t worship or evangelization, then I should never read for fun ever again.

      Do you even listen to yourself when you spout this garbage?

      • Michael a.k.a Lasersniper on

        Woah Woah Woah dude I know it is frustrating and hard but there is no need to stoop down to insulting. I agree with you whole-heartily but if we want to be taken seriously we can’t just rage at other people. Reddit does that enough for everyone :P

    • Michael a.k.a Lasersniper on

      Depending on the game, you can’t deny games are mental exercise. Example of these games are, Portal, Portal 2, LIMBO, Starcraft 2, most Mario games, tetris, LA Noire, Dark Souls ect. It also promotes eye to hand coordination so much so that a hefty number of great surgeons played video games. Dr. Hank Chien is only one example of this. As for a social activity I completely disagree with you. I know many people through the gaming community and I can confidently call 7 of them close friends. Don’t you dare call them fake friends either because they have been their for me just as much as the friends I have in my town. Continuing on socializing, I can say that the a chunk of the good times I have had with them is when playing video games. I am not just talking about about my brothers or sister but my parents and uncles and aunts and cousins. I have seen so many moments, good moments pass my friends by because their parents refuse to play a game with them. As for your training an learning, I am glad to tell you that a great many schools use video games as a teaching tool. These games were not designed to be used in schools but teachers see how they can be used as one. The biggest success of this can be found here: http://minecraftedu.com/
      If you didn’t know there is a huge group of people you participate in a thing called esports. esports are when you take certain video games and play them competitively. People make their livings through epsorts. Disregarding epsorts for a minute, people still earn a living through video games by creating innovative content and shows with them. By making music and art with them. By showing off funny and weird moments while playing them. These people also give back more then you ever know. Speeddemosarchive recently held their annual video game speed run live stream. They raised over $600,000 for the PreventCancer Foundation. They raised that in a week. As for worship and evangelizing….okay I admit you can’t worship through it but I know of 5 people who have converted just because we talk now and again while playing games online together. I am able to refute stereo types and defend my faith while helping other people understand. I write the Dear Gamer reviews for Catholicmom.com. (To anyone else who is reading this and is interested about Dear Gamer, yes there reviews are coming back. Will explained what happened in the next update) One of my goals is to help combined religion and gaming so to make it a more friendly, safe, and moral environment for everyone. My other goals is to try to refute stereo types and show why video games are not an enemy. I wonder if it has ever occurred to any catholic, those of whom have been insulted and stereo typed and not given the time of day, that everyone is doing the same thing to gamers. Video games are only tools, just like a gun or bat, a car or drink, a bible or fire. Anything can become addicting or bad if we choose it to be so. Funny story, a priest friend told me of a time where there was this woman who had become addicted to going to confession every few hours. Anyways, my points still stand.

      /Michael a.k.a Lasersniper

  2. Your theory is based on a false presumption, “I did not become a mass murderer, therefore no one who plays video games will become a mass murderer.” When we look at these unfortunate situations we see a number of factors that tend to recur, and violent first-person shooters (simulated murder games) are one of the most prevalent. While it is also true that it would be an error to say that video games create mass murderers, that’s because no one has ever given this a serious evaluation. One can’t ignore the obvious forever.

    • “One of the most prevalent.” First, you don’t have a single number or stat, do you? Thirty million people own an Xbox 360, and how many shootings are there per year? Huh? Not even a fraction of one percent of those console owners have gone on a rampage, and yet, let’s blame the video games. Are you just stupid?

      Second, even if you had a single statistic — and I’d like to see you find one — find one that factor in all shootings that were STOPPED.

      For example, your favorite journal, Mother Jones, made a study of “all” shootings, but excluded all shootings where the body count was single digits… because someone with a gun shot them first.

      When you have a study that includes all of those, too, let me know.

      And I meant cases like these:

      — Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas, this week: Jesus Manuel Garcia shoots at a movie theater, a police car and bystanders from the nearby China Garden restaurant; as he enters the movie theater, guns blazing, an armed off-duty cop shoots Garcia four times, stopping the attack. Total dead: Zero.

      — Winnemucca, Nev., 2008: Ernesto Villagomez opens fire in a crowded restaurant; concealed carry permit-holder shoots him dead. Total dead: Two. (I’m excluding the shooters’ deaths in these examples.)

      — Appalachian School of Law, 2002: Crazed immigrant shoots the dean and a professor, then begins shooting students; as he goes for more ammunition, two armed students point their guns at him, allowing a third to tackle him. Total dead: Three.

      — Santee, Calif., 2001: Student begins shooting his classmates — as well as the “trained campus supervisor”; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive. Total dead: Two.

      — Pearl High School, Mississippi, 1997: After shooting several people at his high school, student heads for the junior high school; assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points it at the gunman’s head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.

      — Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A student shoots up a junior high school dance being held at a restaurant; restaurant owner pulls out his shotgun and stops the gunman. Total dead: One.

  3. Pingback: Why I’m a Fan of Video Games (& Will Remain One) | CatholicMom.com

  4. Thank you, Mr. Fischer for your response. I pray for all those addicted to ommrpg’s that are robbing their precious time with loved ones. God bless us all.

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.