Video Games: Some Negatives and Positives - Video Game Week


Photo from Mamarati.

Written By: Danielle Pittner

You’re crouched behind a wall, sweating as the thumps of your heart grow louder and louder in your ears… or are those footsteps? There’s movement. You aim and shoot mercilessly until all you can see is red. As the red blood visual oozes down the screen, you feel victorious as you move onto the next level and all the characters come back to life… because, it’s a video game.

Now, not all video games reach the same level of violence but for those that do, a debate is on the table. When is the reality of a video game too real? With the culmination of advanced technology, younger and younger children are exposed to these video games. These events have shaken the nation and directed attention toward hot debates over video games; a topic that still lingers today.

If you were a child of the 90s, you remember wearing scrunchies (or someone who wore them), while waiting until the next episode of Baywatch, drinking Surge, and maybe even trying Sun-In. You probably rapped along with the Fresh Prince of Bel- Air and made mix-tapes for crushes. All fun, youthful memories but there were tragedies too. As a child of the 90s, you most likely watched the coverage of the Columbine High School Massacre in stunned horror.

Columbine, the first of a run of school shootings, was a wake up call. In the event’s aftermath, parents, teachers, and most adults seemed to become acutely aware of violence in video games and their effect on young, impressionable teenagers. Suddenly, video game violence became a phrase, an idiom and elevator talk. Every video game became evil and every gamer became a threat to society. This video game outrage grew to the extent that the South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, declared: “I feel that my family and I are more at risk from gamers than we are from the outlaw motorcycle gangs”.

Despite hotly debated detrimental affects of video games and video gaming culture, there are some who can see an optimistic side to video games. ABC News took a look the benefits of video games, and found that they can be used as a tool to teach teens to “delegate responsibility, promote teamwork and steer groups of people toward a common goal.”

One group of people working toward a common goal is the Brooklyn-based, indie-pop band, Weird Children. Comprised of former indie pop duo, Mama Bear, plus friends, these musicians fill any stage with humorous banter and upbeat songs with titles such as “Fat Yung Tim” and “Creepy Meatballs,” this band is creeping their way into the New York music scene. The group’s members have definitely all had their share of video game playing both individually and as a group. If you are wondering how video games affected their strangeness… these folks say the results have been positive.

Tim VanHorn, drummer of Weird Children, as well as a visual effects and motion graphics freelancer, has always been intrigued by video game soundtracks and mentions that 8 bit music is a re-surging fad in non-video game music. He also states that more and more bands are being sought for video game soundtracks. Another band, White Rabbits, who are friends with Weird Children were featured on the soundtrack for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa video game.

Tim also touches on the technological advances used in both video gaming and cinematography, “As technology evolves, you can do more with video games– you can create scenes that are pretty cinematic.  You’re finding a lot more crossover there with people creating movies and video games crossing paths.”

With an explosion of handheld devices and new game apps, everyone is becoming a ‘gamer’ in some sense, perhaps shifting the topic of discussion surrounding video games from a debate regarding ethics to observations on design innovation.

Dale Joseph, guitarist of Weird Children, who grew up playing games such as Mario Paint, Tetras, Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball and Tony Hawk 1 & 2 on his Game Boy, Super Nintendo, and PlayStation says, “ I don’t think the types of video games I played are the type of video games people worry about having a long lasting violent affect.”

Joseph also links the passion and devotion in creating music and playing video games, “One thing about playing video games is that if you’re trying to achieve a certain score, you will play it over and over and over for hours on end.  It’s the same thing if you’re trying to get a certain part of a song.”

Perhaps you’ll be hearing Weird Children in your (or their) favorite video game one day!