Video Games: Friend or Foe?

Video Games: Friend or Foe?

A Story by Ryan J. Sanders

A persuasive essay about why video games are good for you, and a pretty good one if I do say so myself. It's both convincing and interesting, and even funny in some parts.


Video Games: Friend or Foe?

            “Prose is an art form, movies and acting in general are art forms, so is music, painting, graphics, sculpture, and so on. Some might even consider classic games like chess to be an art form. Video games use elements of all of these to create something new. Why wouldn’t video games be an art form?”  Despite arguments like this quote from Sam Lake, some parents continue to relentlessly attack video games, claiming they are mind-rotting and time consuming with absolutely no benefits. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. When played in moderation, the benefits you receive from video games highly outweigh the costs because video games are educational, therapeutic, and skill-honing in nature.

            Despite common belief, video games do not simply rot your brain and steal your soul. Because video games are often based off of real historical events, they are actually nature’s most entertaining teacher. For example, in the popular video game “Assassin’s Creed II” you play as a legendary assassin during the Italian Renaissance. Your character gets to explore countless Italian cities as they would have looked at that time, (including Venice and Florence) meet and learn about Leonardo Da Vinci, and learn several different Italian words. Other games, such as “Medieval Total War II” and “Age of Empires” allow the player to control an army in famous historic battles, meet significant historical figures (such as King Richard and Saladin), and teach you countless things about the technology, architecture, and the politics of the middle ages. These games are also strategy games, which means that the player controls an entire army instead of a single player and must strategically place and use his soldiers and resources to defeat his enemies. This is highly mentally stimulating, especially if you are playing against other human players who think and reason significantly better than computers. So as you can see, though most video games are not made with the objective to teach, it is a common side effect, no matter how unintentional. However, video games are not just the first robotic teachers; they can also help cure you of hair loss, depression, ulcers, diabetes, and prevent heart attacks. That’s right; prevent heart attacks!

            Stress is probably one of the greatest plagues humanity has ever known. Studies show that stress can even make you sick, causing problems that range in seriousness from hair loss to heart attacks. Perhaps the worst thing about stress is that there is no cure. Or is there? Studies also show that video games"yes, video games"can significantly reduce stress in stressed individuals. In one study, the subject’s stress levels were measured before and after playing an hour of a popular video game called “Bejeweled.”  The results showed a shocking 54% decrease in stress. Video games are also often used as a form of therapy for people with a variety of disabilities, both mental and physical. So now I have proven that video games can both teach and be therapeutic, but there is still another way video games can be beneficial. Video games can also help fight terrorism!

            Allow me to explain. Have your parents ever told you while you were playing a video game to back up from the TV or you will ruin your eyes? Well now you can laugh in their face! Studies show that playing video games (specifically first-person shooters like “Half Life 2” and “Call of Duty”) increases visual skills, giving players the ability to spot details in busy, confusing scenes and cope with distractions better than most of the population. In a study conducted by Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier, people who played video games often were pitted against people who never played video games in a series of psychological tests meant to measure basic visual skills. To summarize the results, the gamers performed significantly better. Video games are also known to improved skills in hand-eye coordination and problem-solving. All these skills happen to be valued highly by soldiers, professional athletes, pilots, and race car drivers. It is actually estimated that people who play video games will make better pilots than people who do not, and a form of “video game” is used to train the US military for combat. So, in a roundabout sort of way, video games actually help America in her valiant struggle with the terrorists of the Middle East. So if you are against video games, you must hate America and love terrorists. Yet still there are naysayers!

                Despite all the proof otherwise, many still choose to believe that video games are nothing more than the past-times of the bored and lonely. One of the most common arguments paranoid parents use to attack video games is their often violent and explicit content. This cannot be denied; many video games are violent and are not for little kids. However, parents are wrong to assume that violent video games lead to violent behaviors in children. Most studies found no link between violent action in games and violent actions in the real world. Tim Buckley hit the nail on the head when he said “I think that if someone plays a video game, and then goes out and harms another human being, or themselves because of what they just saw in the video game, they were screwed up in the head long before they got their hands on a controller.” Another quote supporting this argument came from a friend of mine named Jennifer Eskina. “I’m a violent person and I don’t even play video games!” she told me, right before she punched a newborn baby in the mouth for looking at her funny. In addition to the fact that no proven link between violence in video games and violence in real life exists, it should be taken into consideration that video games are rated meticulously based on their content. On the front of the cover of every game there is a rating of anything from E (for Everyone) to M (for Mature), and on the back of every case there is a description of why the game was rated as it was. If in the game they take one sip of alcohol, “use of alcohol” will be written on the back, even if the rest of the game is filled with bunnies. So as you can see, the game companies have done their job. All that’s left is for parents to do theirs. Parents should not buy their preteens an M rated game called “Super Violent Gore Attack IV: Total Madness.” Video games are, in this case, like guns. A kid should not be given a high-powered rifle. A kid should be given a bb gun. When he has become a fully grown hunter, he can buy his own rifle.

            Parents also claim that video games will steal their children’s lives away. They worry that their kids will just sit inside and play video games all day, fail school, and become morbidly obese circus freaks because they never leave their room. To this I have but one response: they are the parents! As the parents, they are entitled to boss their children around. They can tell them they have to finish their homework before they so much as touch a controller, give them an hour-a-day time limit, or force them to go play outside or read a book once in a while. Though some students may play video games all day and never do any schoolwork, it is a huge misconception to believe that playing video games always comes at the expense of good grades. I know personally several avid gamers who are in all honors classes and have straight A’s (such as Ashley Shaffer and Maria Wilson). Even my brother, who lives and breathes video games all day, has somehow managed to maintain A’s in all of his classes. However, if a child’s grades drop and he plays several hours of video games each night before he starts his homework, his parents should take away his video games until he brings his grades back up. I repeat; the parents are in charge! The parents are responsible for the well being of their children, not the video game companies.

            Parents also attack the solitary nature of video games. They believe that if their kids are playing video games they will never make friends due to their lack of interaction with others. What they fail to realize is that sometimes some time alone with a video game is just what a kid needs. Like books, video games immerse you in another world far away from their home, their schoolwork, and all their problems. Still, parents worry that their kids will become antisocial shut-ins because all the time they spend on video games. Nothing could be further from the truth! Though many video games are solitary one-player games, there are also many multiplayer games, which can be played with friends and family. Video games are actually a great way for people to kick back and have fun together. What’s more (because most adults are relatively unskilled at video games) it opens up an opportunity for children to teach their parents for a change. In addition, many games can now be played online, opening up opportunities for players to talk and interact with people not only all over the country, but all over the world. For example, I used to talk with a Canadian girl named Meg on the online game “World of Warcraft.” I remember in one conversation I had to explain to her that “Kansas” and “Arkansas” are two different states, and, in another conversation, she had to explain to me that Canadians actually contributed something to the world. Over 13 million people play “World of Warcraft,” making it the largest online game in the world and giving players the chance to meet people from all over. A chance that, without video games, would not exist.

            So, in conclusion, video games are not as bad for you as everyone says. In fact, if taken in moderation, video games can be highly beneficial because they are educational, stress relieving, and they train visual skills. Most importantly, however, they are a super fun time whether you are by yourself, surrounded by friends, or reminding your dad for the umpteenth time that “right trigger is shoot, left trigger is throw grenade.” My suggestion for you is this: before you attack video games, before you tell your children video games were created by Satan to corrupt your immortal soul, before you curse everything with a screen and controller, give them a chance. Buy a game, whether it’s simple like “Mario” or complex like “Fallout 3.” Play it through all the way to the end. And, after you’ve beaten it and you’ve felt the rush of victory"after you’ve squashed all the Goombas, defeated Bowser, and rescued the princess, after you’ve brought clean water back to the Capital Wasteland, after you’ve fought in the battle of Berlin alongside the Russians, after you’ve escaped a mall full of zombies"then and only then can you fairly judge whether all video games are worthless wastes of time or something more.

© 2010 Ryan J. Sanders

Author's Note

Ryan J. Sanders
I used contractions. A LOT of contractions. I think that's technically against the rules. But I don't really care.

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My parents support terrorism. So sad

Posted 13 Years Ago

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Added on August 7, 2010
Last Updated on August 7, 2010
Tags: Video, Games, Essay, Persuasive, Pro


Ryan J. Sanders
Ryan J. Sanders

Haughton, LA

I'm seventeen. I like to write, especially comedy (parodies, ridiculous humor, and dark humor mostly) and I'm a pretty decent poet, though I never count syllables because I've got better things to do .. more..