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Silencing the Critics Who Say Video Games Are Bad

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Let's face it, individuals who criticize gaming are often hypocrites whose messages are riddled with lies and have no substance whatsoever.

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    Are Video Games Bad? Heck No!

    For years, critics have unwittingly ridiculed gaming, one of the most unique entertainment forms around.   For generations, individuals have gone on tirades against the video game industry. Anti-gaming crusaders have badmouthed gamers, game developers, and game journalists, shunning us and accusing us of being violent, lazy, and stupid. Simply put, the people who make these claims – the Jack Thompsons, the Carole Liebermans, my cousin who once told me video games were drugs – are ignorant and have never really taken the time to understand video games. In an attempt to make gaming look bad, these people end up being the ones with the pie on their self-righteous faces. Unfortunately, gamers are the only ones who truly understand why the statements made by these individuals are both ludicrous and false.

    Are video games bad? Quite the contrary, video games help people realize their creativity, encourage problem-solving, and challenge players to solve puzzles and figure out solutions to multi-tiered challenges. Video games are not bad; they’re far more important than you might think.

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    Gaming Breeds Creativity

    Okami is easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing games ever created.  

    As a child, gaming was always one of my favorite hobbies. The more games I played, however, the more I realized that gaming wasn’t just a hobby, but a means for me to enter new worlds, interact with fictional characters across a fantasy land, and discover treasures across the deepest depths of a world that was only real in that game. Escapism? Not exactly. Like a book, video games helped my imagination expand even further than I thought was possible. I was entering beautiful forests, slaying wondrous beasts, saving princesses, and most importantly, I was being inspired – inspired to explore in real life, inspired to learn more about my surroundings, and inspired to create my own stories.

    To this day, video games continue to inspire me. I have written several poems, brainstormed several ideas for graphic novels and short stories, and drawn by hand hundreds of art pieces based on the ideas that the countless games I’ve played throughout the course of my gaming life have inspired. Video games are a source of entertainment, but for many, they are also a means of making connections and delving deep into the imagination to turn out works of art that are beautiful to look at and awe-inspiring to fully take in.

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    Problem-Solving and Puzzle-Solving

    Climbing and defeating this colossus is a puzzle in and of itself.  

    Countless observers make the common mistake of thinking a game is nothing more than an A-to-B sequence where players must simply guide a character through a linear path with no meaningful attributes to go along with it. Oh, uneducated naysayers, how little you know and how much you have yet to learn. Gaming is more than just mindless button-mashing and quick reflexes (though sometimes it’s good to let loose with some of those games too), gaming is about solving problems within a game’s universe. Getting from A to B often requires gamers to go through A2, A3, all the way down to A10, and so on, before getting to B. You can’t really be dimwitted if you plan on getting through The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and you definitely can’t be weak-willed if you want to play through Gears of War.

    Video games require you to concentrate on solving puzzles, focus on multitasking to clear multiple objectives, and really observe your environments to survive. Critical thinking, math, and reading are all major skills that countless games out there such as God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, and Okami require gamers to have a decent grasp of. Therefore, video games encourage awareness of these skills and the ability to use them properly.

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    What About Those Violent Video Games?

    It is completely ludicrous that a stellar title like Gears of War gets so much hate from anti-gaming crusaders while bloody action movies are praised.  

    It may surprise many people, but even violent games serve a positive purpose. War-themed shooters are a tribute to the men and women who risk their lives for their country. Futuristic first-person shooters like Halo allow players to enter a sci-fi themed world and explore it, and there’s plenty of action for gamers who enjoy thrilling gameplay. Games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, and Max Payne offer compelling characters and stories that keep players entertained, not unlike a movie. There are countless action flicks out there that may not be the most tasteful, but they certainly appeal to a large crowd, and they don’t get nearly as much disdain from the public as violent games do. Just as there are hard-boiled crime novels and a plethora of Jason Statham flicks that don’t make much sense, there are action games with guns, explosions, big-breasted women, and foul language. It’s a matter of taste, and yes, gamers are entitled to have their own taste as well.

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    Video Games Allow for More Job Opportunities

    Yes, games journalism is a career path, and a damn fine one!  

    Hey, remember that thing known as the economy? Do you remember how bad it is and just how big of a rut the country is in? Well, video games help out monetarily as well. Rather than give you sales figures and what have you, I’ll just point out the importance of video games in the economy for sole individuals. Game publishing, game development, console manufacturing, creative writing, art, programming, and game journalism are all viable fields that may be tough to get into, but they offer individuals looking for a job in this rough world another option. Art majors can draw comic books, work on animated films, or even work in the game industry. English majors can write screenplays, poetry, novels, or even devote their time to constructing the story of a gripping video game. Journalists can report on the news, on sports, or even on video games. All of these are outstanding career paths that may not be the norm, but allow for more people to have work in a world where finding a job can be nearly impossible at times.

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    Are Video Games Bad - A Nonsensical Question

    Though there are undoubtedly a few open-minded individuals out there who may give video games a chance and possibly even try playing them, the sad truth is that there are likely countless people who will read this and still think of video games as trash. Even the President of the United States said that video games were but a mere distraction that detracted from empowerment, a statement that lacks substance and is completely uneducated. Ultimately, people will believe what they want to believe. As gamers, we have to stand up for our medium in a peaceful manner, utilize the problem-solving skills that so many games put emphasis on, and educate the naysayers. Not all of them will listen, but at the end of the day we can always feel proud of the fact that we have something they don’t: an entertainment form that’s unlike any other to keep us thrilled, challenged, and engaged.

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