Books vs. Video Games: Do These Things Make Us Violent?

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

I was posed a rather interesting question the other day, one which I was surprised I had never given much thought to before. It has been an on-going debate for years about whether there exists a direct link between video games and violent behaviour in youth. There are numerous opinions on the matter, but it’s one of those issues you can’t just throw into any specific category and expect that to be the only answer. Much like the chicken and the egg quandary, I don’t think we’ll ever know with one hundred percent certainty whether or not video games make us more violent.

As one who has grown up with three brothers, all of whom were avid video game players, and having played a fair share of those same games myself, I can safely say that not one of us has experienced any kind of violent reaction from all those hours of gameplay. In fact, and not to brag or anything… well maybe a little, but each and every one of us as done quite well for ourselves. My youngest brother, inspired by the games he has played, is even studying graphic design and computer programming at university.  

Of course, like most things in life, video games should be played in moderation. As much as I love peanut butter cookies, I’m not about to sit their and eat them for 24 hours a day. I know, apples and oranges, but you know what I mean. Here’s a better example: I love listening to Josh Groban, but I’ve made the mistake time and time again to get hooked on one of his songs, and then play it over and over again until I get sick of it. You have to mix it up with other genres. It’s the same with video games: instead of constantly playing first person shooters, mix it up with some Super Mario or Kerbel Space Program. If you’re that afraid that video games might make you more violent, then play one of the hundreds of other non-violent games out there.

 One of my favourite video games right now – ok, I’m mostly just watching my boyfriend play it, but I love watching him go through the story, it’s fantastic! – is Witcher 3. It’s possibly one of the most graphic games I’ve ever seen, yet the characters are incredibly well rounded and memorable, it’s designed in a way where even if you haven’t played the first two, you still know what’s going on, and the graphics are phenomenal! Is it a violent game? Well, there’s no doubt about that. I cringed a few times when they did a close up of the enemy heads being sliced off. After seeing all of that, do I feel like cleaving off someone’s head with a sword? No, I most certainly do not. Why? Because I know it’s fiction!

If anything, I find video games to be rather therapeutic. I’m sure most of us have experienced those moments where someone pisses us off to the point where we picture ourselves punching them in the face over and over again. When those thoughts of aggression plague my mind, I wait until I get home, and then I take it out on my enemies in a good old game of Heroes of Might and Magic (for those of whom this game may be before your time, look it up, and then pick up a copy for cheap off of Steam or Good Old Games). Just like artists pour their emotions into their paintings, and musicians into their music, we gamers channel our negative emotions into slaying virtual monsters.

Aside from that initial question, that person also made a comment about how it’s better to read more books and play fewer video games. Well, to that I say pick up a Ken Follett or Game of Thrones book, and then see if you’re whistling the same tune. The majority of todays modern books are loaded with gory violence, very explicit sex scenes, and language that even those who drop the F bomb every other word would cringe at the sound of. So no, in the battle of books vs. video games, I would not say there’s really much of a difference content wise in this day and age. Besides, there are a thousand other reasons why our society as a whole is becoming more violent, and I’m pretty sure that how much time we spend on our computer or x-box 360 is pretty far down the list.

These are just my thoughts though. If you have your own opinions regarding this ongoing debate, I would love to hear them, so feel free to post your thoughts in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!








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