the movie about the Skinner box from Extra Credits on Escapist Magazine should do so, it's a great explanation about the addictiveness of games. Violence should be self evident, but I am linking to a movie from Call of duty: Black Ops anyway. The fun thing about this movie is that without shooting a gun you'll partake in violence anyway.
Now what other medium is addictive and violent? Right! TV! And without beating around the bush I'll just go ahead and claim that playing games is better for you and your children than watching TV. First of all gaming is active, the player is always responsible for his/her actions. This way you or your kids learn to solve problems. Television is passive, everything that you or your kids learn is dependent on the characters in the story or reality show. This is a fundamental difference I will exploit here.
Now if all goes well, you are a good parent and you will give your kids all the attention they'll need, right? I don't have kids of myself yet, so I might not be in a position to argue, but I will do so anyway. You will most likely leave your kids at the TV at some point, because you want some quiet time for yourself. Even worse: a lot of parents park their kids at the TV and let it raise their kids.
At this point things start going wrong. Your kids are left to people who are not primarily interested in their upbringing, but in making a quick buck out of entertaining them. There are some fail-safes in the system, your children will not be exposed to extreme violence, drugs or sex. They will not always work, like this example of the deaths in the original Transformers movie, but that is a different thing. Somewhere along the line s/he will be taught that "violence is bad" and everything is alright, so extreme violence is not the worst thing that can be seen by a kid.
|Jafar from Disney's Aladin. Not a badly |
written villain, but I liked his picture :)
- declaring to be friends, while nothing really happened. Creating artificial companions.
- love at first sight, while nothing else between the two involved will be happening. Creating a non-reason to risk one's life.
- keeping secrets from parents, while the parents are completely trustworthy. This results in stories like "I have creatures in my room, hilarity ensues".
- randomly denying things from people, creating a new story arc of how to get it. This is usually left for the villains.
If you'd like more of this pointed out, go watch the nostalgia critic at thatguywiththeglasses or just his review of little monsters which has most of this bad writing.
|How about explicitly bad|
writing? No? Hmm...
But even if the TV programmes are well written throughout, you can't help the fact that when one show is finished, another show will immediately follow to keep you or your kid watching the channel. Eventually there will come along something I'd like to call a brain melt moment, a moment that just breaks the way you are thinking. This can vary from the extremely confusing Transformers movie from 1986, where all the heroes are killed off while happy music is still playing, to the movie of a melting chocolate bunny like this link.
To take the bunny as an example, it is legit to show it to your kids. It has no violence, it is educational explaining the three ways of heat transportation and it is varied by adding a little drama. Yet, you force the kids to watch a character die three horrible deaths while the music expresses its desperate struggle.
|Karbonkel as seen in the first|
part of the series
|Karbonkel's less known|
Now let's relate the downsides of movies and TV shows to games. Have you ever seen how much fun kids have with badly designed or broken toys? They will try to play with it anyway and if it doesn't succeed, they get help or go find it. The same goes for games. Badly written characters aren't the main focus, the focus lies on the problems presented in the game. If the problem is badly written, when it is too hard they will try to get help. Moreover, games are more consistent and when it ends there will not be another game immediately viewed after it. If you give a game to a kid, you will know s/he will keep viewing the same material. If the game tries a brain-melt, it will not last very long.
For what it's worth to randomly throw a good fact in, your kids have less nightmares if they play games.
There are a bunch of ifs here, because you always have the 'too much' factor. Too much gaming will be just as bad as too much TV and addiction might be lingering more with games than with TV. I also want to stress that I don't want to imply you should let your kids watch no TV at all. What I want to show is that we might want to re-evaluate the way we think about the damaging aspects of both the mediums. We also might want to re-evaluate the rating of media, because I remember seeing a lot of violence in Transformers and the A-team and feeling fine, while I do remember some brain-melts on an art-channel that gave me nightmares for weeks.