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The regular playing of video games by people of all ages - not just children and adolescents - has become fairly widespread and is not usually given two thoughts. It does not take a certain type of person to enjoy at least one kind of video game; the gaming possibilities are nearly endless with all the various consoles and genres to choose from. Even most of the athletes and bookworms take time away from football and reading to play the occasional round of Mario Kart. Why, then, do video games receive so much criticism on such a regular basis? The people who play video games do not view them in the negative light that researchers and professors work so hard to shine and most likely see no reason to give up this type of activity. A person's quality time with his Playstation can easily be a part of his quality time with friends or family and it even has intellectual and emotional benefits. Video games do not cause the transformation of perfectly normal teenagers into antisocial hermits or crazed serial killers, despite the stereotypical views of gamers as lonely nerds hulled up in their rooms or violent boys screaming at television screens during a session of Call of Duty. Moderate video game play may come with risks like heightened aggression and addiction, but these possibilities should not damage the acceptance or overshadow the educational and psychological benefits of video games as a whole. The main concerns with video games over the years have been, basically, violence and aggression. Obviously, a lot of video games involve a lot of violent and sometimes even gruesome material. It is common knowledge that most video games require the defeating of enemies in order to move on to higher levels and eventually beat the game. Even the jolly plumber Mario, perhaps the most well-known classic video game character of all, knocks out the bad guys before they can kill him first. Craig Anderson, a professor at Iowa University and a leading expert on media violence studies, has conducted an immense amount of research and written numerously on the relationship between video games and aggressive behavior. Some of his writings are not quite as convincing as others, but overall even the most devout gamers have to take his arguments into consideration. Anderson's article "Violent Video Games Promote Teen Aggression and Violence," for example, appears to focus more on media violence in general instead of video games specifically and gives no sort of real proof for any claims. No specific researches or findings are mentioned. His purpose in writing the article was clearly to convince readers that regular exposure to violent video games results in heightened levels of aggression in the players; however, he identifies the long and short-term effects of media violence - not video game violence. Therefore, he is making the assumption that all sources of media yield the same effects, whether from television, movies, or video games. Many will agree that there is a substantial difference between watching a movie with real people and playing a game with computer-generated characters, making his argument largely unpersuasive. Anderson's claims are much more convincing with the help of three other coauthors in the book titled Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents. This book is very thorough with lot of information, explaining the increase in violence in video games over time and giving examples of various researches conducted on the effects of such violent exposure. Each research method has its own benefits and downfalls, but in the end the same outcome always seemed to prevail: video games do lead to an increase in aggression (61). Christopher Ferguson, an assistant professor of behavioral studies and criminal justice at Texas A & M University argues in his essay "Video Games Have Become a Scapegoat for Violent Behavior" that the lack of a standardized concept of "aggression" creates significant issues in reliable research on this subject (Ferguson). Anderson and friends, however, made sure to use a very specific definition of aggression for their studies: Human aggression is defined as (a) a behavior that is intended to harm another individual, (b) the behavior is expected by the perpetrator to have some chance of actually harming that individual, and (c) the perpetrator believes that the target individual is motivated to avoid the harm. (13) Ferguson's personal meta-analysis on video games and aggression which appeared to disprove claims of a causal relationship between the two may have used a much different concept of aggression, allowing for a much different interpretation of the findings. Despite his argument that video games are just being used as an excuse for unacceptable behavior and the flaws of human nature (Ferguson), most evidence appears to point to the conclusion that video game enthusiasts find hard to swallow. Another expert on media's effects, Douglas Gentile, further analyzes the consequences of gaming and states in the collaborative Q & A article "Brains on Video Games" that the most comprehensive meta-analysis conducted on the effects of video games found desensitization and both aggressive cognition and behavior as results of violent game play (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). Unfortunately, the aggression argument is still under much dispute despite all the studies and findings that have already been studied and found. Some things just do not seem to add up, while, of course, others do. For instance, Ferguson believes just the fact that crime rates have been decreasing while video game play has been increasing should disprove all assertions about gaming and violent behavior (Ferguson). It would make sense that video games must not be causing more and more people to react to situations violently since less and less people are being arrested for violent criminal behavior, but alternative explanations may be out there that Ferguson has failed to recognize. Another thing to be taken into consideration is individual personalities and social situations. Even Craig Anderson, who devotes so much time attempting to prove the connection between aggression and gaming, acknowledges that context like biological, family, and other such factors are greatly involved in the development of a person's disposition (Anderson). For instance, as Harry Brown states in his book Video Games and Education, many people have pinned the blame of Eric Harris's horrifically destructive actions in the Columbine shooting on his obsession with the game Doom, assuming that the violence of the game fueled his want for violence in real life (65). Obviously, his psychological make-up, home-life, etc. should be taken into consideration as well, not just his favorite pastime. A connection between violent video games and violent behavior, in all honestly, can probably be found. Realistically, there are risks with every form of entertainment and playing COD: Black Ops a few times a week is not going to turn a perfectly loving child into a murderous lunatic. Besides, let's face it, the reason people play video games is most likely not in order to get some kind of sick blood and gore fix. Often individuals, teenagers especially, use video games as stress relief. Brown understands this, stating that video games allow gamers to escape from the oppression of life for a little while (45). This statement allows for the interpretation that video games aren't just fun; they are a way to sit down and not have to worry about anything real. Roaming around as a fictional character, killing fictional enemies, and solving fictional problems gives players time to take a breath until it's time to crack down on the hard stuff again. It's when a gamer starts mixing real life with fantasy when things can get dangerous. The magazine article entitled "What Happened to Brandon?" analyzes the addictive effects of video games, focusing on the disappearance of fifteen year old Brandon Crisp who ran off after his parents took away his Xbox. Because he was so shy and too small to pursue his love of hockey, Brandon began identifying himself and his life through the popular war game Call of Duty. He played online with numerous other gamers for hours and hours, eventually developing an addiction. When his parents said he couldn't play anymore he felt like his whole world was crashing down (Campbell, Colin, and Gatehouse). This extreme state of video game dependency, however, is not particularly prevalent and should not halt the use of video games. According to the article, a survey in 2007 conducted by Harris Interactive claimed that 8.5 percent of gamers from ages eight to eighteen were actually pathologically addicted to video games. Notably, research suggests that the common console games do not need to be worried about as much as the online ones. The average offline game has an end; the online ones can go forever and take over real life (Campbell, Colin, and Gatehouse). This information confirms that it is all a matter of moderation. Parents should not allow the fear of addiction to prevent their children or even themselves the luxury of some weekly gaming and relaxing. As long as gamers understand that their adventures in the beautiful lands of Skyrim are fictional and low-priority, video games are perfectly safe forms of entertaining stress-relief. Another issue many parents, teachers, and the like have against video games is the time they take away from other activities, homework especially. Michael M. Merzinich of the previously mentioned Q & A article noted that daily video game interaction appears to be inversely correlated with academic achievement because of the hours stolen from study time (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). Nonetheless, one cannot assume that the absence of a Gameboy is going to guarantee more time spent with textbooks. Video games may just be the student's first choice - academic studies are likely to come behind other activities like television as well. What many fail to realize is that video games can actually be educational in their own way. Even Craig Anderson has to admit that well-designed games make respectable-quality teaching tools (Anderson). Problem solving skills and the like are perhaps the more obvious benefits of gaming, considering all the time gamers spend working out how to overcome challenges and make it to the next level. Education business veteran Lee Wilson describes video games as "complex problem-solving systems" (Wilson). According to Wilson, playing video games encourages approaching unknown situations in a scientific manner and helps to develop logical thinking (Wilson). Merzinech even takes the time to see the matter in this point of view and gives the cognitive benefits of video games their due attention. He agrees that the regular playing of certain video games leads to improvements in memory and social control. In fact, those violent, often first-person shooter action games that get all the flack about possibly leading to aggressive behavior have their own advantages such as heightened perceptual skills. Due to the high-speed, unpredictable content, gamers are constantly using their peripheral vision to anticipate sudden enemy attacks during their gaming sessions and are accustomed to thinking fast and using quick reflexes (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). These skills can obviously be put to good use in real life situations for people with dangerous careers such as police officers and soldiers. For those who are not as interested in things like fast reactions and cognitive control, but put a lot of faith in the importance of literature, certain video games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Assassin's Creed may lift some eyebrows. In Video Games and Education Harry Brown views video games from a literary point of view, attesting that, just like reading a good novel, role-playing video games with highly developed plots allow players to identify with the characters and experience emotional catharsis throughout the course of the game (4). Brown states, "[Video games] test our ingenuity and intellect while they immerse us in an imaginary world textured by narratives" (5). A good role-playing game has a good plot. The person playing the game explores the game world as the hero and undergoes a series of conflicts before ultimately reaching the climax and coming to a satisfying resolution (9). These video games are not just mindless and low-quality - their developers spend years creating unique, worthwhile stories that can be put into an interactive format for players to enjoy (10). Brown also concludes that games teach the players responsibility for their actions (18). Role-playing games such as Skryim offer players a lot of freedom. They can wander around the virtual world, ignoring the main objective of the game for most of the time if they wish, and are given about three different response choices when their character is having a conversation with one of his computer-generated friends or foes (17). Despite these liberties, players anticipate consequences, knowing they must be careful in what responses they choose to use and what actions they choose to take if they want to complete the game with as little trouble as possible (18). The story lines require thinking and analyzing in order to move along swiftly. In short, bibliophiles can play these games without any guilt and work their brains in the process thanks to riveting plots, beautiful virtual landscapes, and the occasional historical context. Considering the fact that video games that were not technically created with any purpose other than to entertain can have educational benefits, the impact of games created with deeper purpose has the potential to be very significant. In order to present even more positive consequences video games can have, Brown mentions the invention of what are known as activist games. These games take real-life issues taking place somewhere in the world and turn them into virtual realities that can be experienced without facing any real danger. An example of an activist game is called Darfur Is Dying which depicts the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Players act as Sudan civilians and have to face the struggles of everyday tasks that are not a problem in places like America. Just the act of getting water requires hiding from the Janjaweed militias, facing death or rape as the punishment of getting caught. These games are basically a call for action. Their purpose is to show the players just what kind of crises people around the world are experiencing every day and to make them want to do something to help (62). Of course, there are many alternatives to playing video games that can be used for activism, and just like with any other activist works, just convincing people to play the game is no guarantee of them actually taking action and trying to make a change. That is no reason for the developers of activist games to give up, though. Maybe not all players of these games will feel compelled to take a stand, but some of them will. And that is all that matters. All in all, video games cannot be viewed from a black and white perspective. Like Douglas Gentile suggests in "Brains on Video Games," "...there are at least five dimensions along which video games can have effects on brain and behavior--the content, context, structure and mechanics of games, and the time spent game playing" (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). Yes, it is possible that exposure to the more violent games can lead to higher aggression levels in the gamers and yes, there is always the possibility of addiction. The thing is, context is important and one simply cannot overlook all the different factors that have to be taken into consideration when assessing the likelihood of these things becoming a problem. The type of person matters just as much as the type of game does, and most of the previously mentioned sources seem to recognize this. This is why the question at issue each of those men and women were apparently trying to answer - Are video games harmful or helpful? - truly cannot be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No." Nonetheless, after careful consideration of every article, every claim, and every piece of evidence, my conclusion remains true to my thesis: Video games are a perfectly safe form of entertainment with benefits that should not be overlooked and risks that should not be overplayed. Aggression and addiction are not even widely viewed as true probabilities/problems and the educational and mental benefits make the fun of playing video games just that much better. Of course there are alternatives to video games that are just as stress-relieving and intellectually beneficial, but sometimes one just wants to put down the book and change it up. So, go ahead. Pop in Skyrim, grab the Xbox controller, and slay some dragons. It's relaxing, the graphics are beautiful, and the story line is compelling. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
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As Essay On How Video Games Are Safe, Educational and Fun
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As Essay On How Video Games Are Safe, Educational And Fun

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              The regular playing of video games by people of all ages - not just children and adolescents - has become fairly widespread and is not usually given two thoughts. It does not take a certain type of person to enjoy at least one kind of video game; the gaming possibilities are nearly endless with all the various consoles and genres to choose from. Even most of the athletes and bookworms take time away from football and reading to play the occasional round of Mario Kart. Why, then, do video games receive so much criticism on such a regular basis? The people who play video games do not view them in the negative light that researchers and professors work so hard to shine and most likely see no reason to give up this type of activity. A person's quality time with his Playstation can easily be a part of his quality time with friends or family and it even has intellectual and emotional benefits. Video games do not cause the transformation of perfectly normal teenagers into antisocial hermits or crazed serial killers, despite the stereotypical views of gamers as lonely nerds hulled up in their rooms or violent boys screaming at television screens during a session of Call of Duty. Moderate video game play may come with risks like heightened aggression and addiction, but these possibilities should not damage the acceptance or overshadow the educational and psychological benefits of video games as a whole.
             
              The main concerns with video games over the years have been, basically, violence and aggression. Obviously, a lot of video games involve a lot of violent and sometimes even gruesome material. It is common knowledge that most video games require the defeating of enemies in order to move on to higher levels and eventually beat the game. Even the jolly plumber Mario, perhaps the most well-known classic video game character of all, knocks out the bad guys before they can kill him first. Craig Anderson, a professor at Iowa University and a leading expert on media violence studies, has conducted an immense amount of research and written numerously on the relationship between video games and aggressive behavior. Some of his writings are not quite as convincing as others, but overall even the most devout gamers have to take his arguments into consideration. Anderson's article "Violent Video Games Promote Teen Aggression and Violence," for example, appears to focus more on media violence in general instead of video games specifically and gives no sort of real proof for any claims. No specific researches or findings are mentioned. His purpose in writing the article was clearly to convince readers that regular exposure to violent video games results in heightened levels of aggression in the players; however, he identifies the long and short-term effects of media violence - not video game violence. Therefore, he is making the assumption that all sources of media yield the same effects, whether from television, movies, or video games. Many will agree that there is a substantial difference between watching a movie with real people and playing a game with computer-generated characters, making his argument largely unpersuasive.
             
              Anderson's claims are much more convincing with the help of three other coauthors in the book titled Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents. This book is very thorough with lot of information, explaining the increase in violence in video games over time and giving examples of various researches conducted on the effects of such violent exposure. Each research method has its own benefits and downfalls, but in the end the same outcome always seemed to prevail: video games do lead to an increase in aggression (61). Christopher Ferguson, an assistant professor of behavioral studies and criminal justice at Texas A & M University argues in his essay "Video Games Have Become a Scapegoat for Violent Behavior" that the lack of a standardized concept of "aggression" creates significant issues in reliable research on this subject (Ferguson). Anderson and friends, however, made sure to use a very specific definition of aggression for their studies:
             
              Human aggression is defined as (a) a behavior that is intended to harm another individual, (b) the behavior is expected by the perpetrator to have some chance of actually harming that individual, and (c) the perpetrator believes that the target individual is motivated to avoid the harm. (13)
             
              Ferguson's personal meta-analysis on video games and aggression which appeared to disprove claims of a causal relationship between the two may have used a much different concept of aggression, allowing for a much different interpretation of the findings. Despite his argument that video games are just being used as an excuse for unacceptable behavior and the flaws of human nature (Ferguson), most evidence appears to point to the conclusion that video game enthusiasts find hard to swallow. Another expert on media's effects, Douglas Gentile, further analyzes the consequences of gaming and states in the collaborative Q & A article "Brains on Video Games" that the most comprehensive meta-analysis conducted on the effects of video games found desensitization and both aggressive cognition and behavior as results of violent game play (Bavelier, Daphne, et al).
             
              Unfortunately, the aggression argument is still under much dispute despite all the studies and findings that have already been studied and found. Some things just do not seem to add up, while, of course, others do. For instance, Ferguson believes just the fact that crime rates have been decreasing while video game play has been increasing should disprove all assertions about gaming and violent behavior (Ferguson). It would make sense that video games must not be causing more and more people to react to situations violently since less and less people are being arrested for violent criminal behavior, but alternative explanations may be out there that Ferguson has failed to recognize. Another thing to be taken into consideration is individual personalities and social situations. Even Craig Anderson, who devotes so much time attempting to prove the connection between aggression and gaming, acknowledges that context like biological, family, and other such factors are greatly involved in the development of a person's disposition (Anderson). For instance, as Harry Brown states in his book Video Games and Education, many people have pinned the blame of Eric Harris's horrifically destructive actions in the Columbine shooting on his obsession with the game Doom, assuming that the violence of the game fueled his want for violence in real life (65). Obviously, his psychological make-up, home-life, etc. should be taken into consideration as well, not just his favorite pastime. A connection between violent video games and violent behavior, in all honestly, can probably be found. Realistically, there are risks with every form of entertainment and playing COD: Black Ops a few times a week is not going to turn a perfectly loving child into a murderous lunatic.
             
              Besides, let's face it, the reason people play video games is most likely not in order to get some kind of sick blood and gore fix. Often individuals, teenagers especially, use video games as stress relief. Brown understands this, stating that video games allow gamers to escape from the oppression of life for a little while (45). This statement allows for the interpretation that video games aren't just fun; they are a way to sit down and not have to worry about anything real. Roaming around as a fictional character, killing fictional enemies, and solving fictional problems gives players time to take a breath until it's time to crack down on the hard stuff again. It's when a gamer starts mixing real life with fantasy when things can get dangerous. The magazine article entitled "What Happened to Brandon? " analyzes the addictive effects of video games, focusing on the disappearance of fifteen year old Brandon Crisp who ran off after his parents took away his Xbox. Because he was so shy and too small to pursue his love of hockey, Brandon began identifying himself and his life through the popular war game Call of Duty. He played online with numerous other gamers for hours and hours, eventually developing an addiction. When his parents said he couldn't play anymore he felt like his whole world was crashing down (Campbell, Colin, and Gatehouse). This extreme state of video game dependency, however, is not particularly prevalent and should not halt the use of video games. According to the article, a survey in 2007 conducted by Harris Interactive claimed that 8. 5 percent of gamers from ages eight to eighteen were actually pathologically addicted to video games. Notably, research suggests that the common console games do not need to be worried about as much as the online ones. The average offline game has an end; the online ones can go forever and take over real life (Campbell, Colin, and Gatehouse). This information confirms that it is all a matter of moderation. Parents should not allow the fear of addiction to prevent their children or even themselves the luxury of some weekly gaming and relaxing. As long as gamers understand that their adventures in the beautiful lands of Skyrim are fictional and low-priority, video games are perfectly safe forms of entertaining stress-relief.
             
              Another issue many parents, teachers, and the like have against video games is the time they take away from other activities, homework especially. Michael M. Merzinich of the previously mentioned Q & A article noted that daily video game interaction appears to be inversely correlated with academic achievement because of the hours stolen from study time (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). Nonetheless, one cannot assume that the absence of a Gameboy is going to guarantee more time spent with textbooks. Video games may just be the student's first choice - academic studies are likely to come behind other activities like television as well. What many fail to realize is that video games can actually be educational in their own way. Even Craig Anderson has to admit that well-designed games make respectable-quality teaching tools (Anderson). Problem solving skills and the like are perhaps the more obvious benefits of gaming, considering all the time gamers spend working out how to overcome challenges and make it to the next level. Education business veteran Lee Wilson describes video games as "complex problem-solving systems" (Wilson). According to Wilson, playing video games encourages approaching unknown situations in a scientific manner and helps to develop logical thinking (Wilson). Merzinech even takes the time to see the matter in this point of view and gives the cognitive benefits of video games their due attention. He agrees that the regular playing of certain video games leads to improvements in memory and social control. In fact, those violent, often first-person shooter action games that get all the flack about possibly leading to aggressive behavior have their own advantages such as heightened perceptual skills. Due to the high-speed, unpredictable content, gamers are constantly using their peripheral vision to anticipate sudden enemy attacks during their gaming sessions and are accustomed to thinking fast and using quick reflexes (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). These skills can obviously be put to good use in real life situations for people with dangerous careers such as police officers and soldiers.
             
              For those who are not as interested in things like fast reactions and cognitive control, but put a lot of faith in the importance of literature, certain video games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Assassin's Creed may lift some eyebrows. In Video Games and Education Harry Brown views video games from a literary point of view, attesting that, just like reading a good novel, role-playing video games with highly developed plots allow players to identify with the characters and experience emotional catharsis throughout the course of the game (4). Brown states, "[Video games] test our ingenuity and intellect while they immerse us in an imaginary world textured by narratives" (5). A good role-playing game has a good plot. The person playing the game explores the game world as the hero and undergoes a series of conflicts before ultimately reaching the climax and coming to a satisfying resolution (9). These video games are not just mindless and low-quality - their developers spend years creating unique, worthwhile stories that can be put into an interactive format for players to enjoy (10). Brown also concludes that games teach the players responsibility for their actions (18). Role-playing games such as Skryim offer players a lot of freedom. They can wander around the virtual world, ignoring the main objective of the game for most of the time if they wish, and are given about three different response choices when their character is having a conversation with one of his computer-generated friends or foes (17). Despite these liberties, players anticipate consequences, knowing they must be careful in what responses they choose to use and what actions they choose to take if they want to complete the game with as little trouble as possible (18). The story lines require thinking and analyzing in order to move along swiftly. In short, bibliophiles can play these games without any guilt and work their brains in the process thanks to riveting plots, beautiful virtual landscapes, and the occasional historical context.
             
              Considering the fact that video games that were not technically created with any purpose other than to entertain can have educational benefits, the impact of games created with deeper purpose has the potential to be very significant. In order to present even more positive consequences video games can have, Brown mentions the invention of what are known as activist games. These games take real-life issues taking place somewhere in the world and turn them into virtual realities that can be experienced without facing any real danger. An example of an activist game is called Darfur Is Dying which depicts the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Players act as Sudan civilians and have to face the struggles of everyday tasks that are not a problem in places like America. Just the act of getting water requires hiding from the Janjaweed militias, facing death or rape as the punishment of getting caught. These games are basically a call for action. Their purpose is to show the players just what kind of crises people around the world are experiencing every day and to make them want to do something to help (62). Of course, there are many alternatives to playing video games that can be used for activism, and just like with any other activist works, just convincing people to play the game is no guarantee of them actually taking action and trying to make a change. That is no reason for the developers of activist games to give up, though. Maybe not all players of these games will feel compelled to take a stand, but some of them will. And that is all that matters.
             
              All in all, video games cannot be viewed from a black and white perspective. Like Douglas Gentile suggests in "Brains on Video Games," ". . . there are at least five dimensions along which video games can have effects on brain and behavior--the content, context, structure and mechanics of games, and the time spent game playing" (Bavelier, Daphne, et al). Yes, it is possible that exposure to the more violent games can lead to higher aggression levels in the gamers and yes, there is always the possibility of addiction. The thing is, context is important and one simply cannot overlook all the different factors that have to be taken into consideration when assessing the likelihood of these things becoming a problem. The type of person matters just as much as the type of game does, and most of the previously mentioned sources seem to recognize this. This is why the question at issue each of those men and women were apparently trying to answer - Are video games harmful or helpful? - truly cannot be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No. " Nonetheless, after careful consideration of every article, every claim, and every piece of evidence, my conclusion remains true to my thesis: Video games are a perfectly safe form of entertainment with benefits that should not be overlooked and risks that should not be overplayed. Aggression and addiction are not even widely viewed as true probabilities/problems and the educational and mental benefits make the fun of playing video games just that much better. Of course there are alternatives to video games that are just as stress-relieving and intellectually beneficial, but sometimes one just wants to put down the book and change it up. So, go ahead. Pop in Skyrim, grab the Xbox controller, and slay some dragons. It's relaxing, the graphics are beautiful, and the story line is compelling. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
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