The sad state of video games in the public eye

by Aaron Ramsey

It's becoming pretty obvious what people think of video games these days: little boys and teenagers are sitting up in their rooms, playing Doom or Mario Bros. with the lights off, thumbs twitching wildly, never coming down for meals or going outside and having a life. I, for one, am sick and tired of it. And I believe I have reason to. The main thing on my mind is how furious I am about how people are using video games as a scapegoat to explain why all these school shootings have happened. I couldn't help but feel offended as I sat there, watching my evening news report: "Police found Doom paraphernalia and copies of the popular shooter game, 'Quake', at the shooters' houses. Police are stating that it is obvious to them that the video games are to blame for this horrible tragedy."

Come on. Seriously, how many people are going to believe that? Sadly, too many. I'm getting sick and tired of people stereotyping video game enthusiasts as brain-dead, unintelligent, socially deprived outcasts from society who are just a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. I'm not sure about you readers out there, but I play video games for three things: the plot, the music, and the ways they can shock you and just "make you think". The Final Fantasy series is especially famous for all three of these things. After completing Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSX, I had to just sit there in my chair for about an hour, thinking over the plot and what could have caused these characters to do what they did. I was shocked, to say the least. Brother turned against brother, friend against friend, and longtime allies suddenly turned into enemies with a quick stab of a blade. This also caused me to think over how relevant video games can actually be to our society. If more people understood these games and the messages they're trying to convey, maybe people would understand that tragedies likes those school shootings aren't the fault of video games. Final Fantasy VI (FF3 US), Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Xenogears, and Final Fantasy Tactics in particular show the player just how important human life is. After seeing Delita collapse on the ground after senselessly killing Ovelia in the ending of Final Fantasy Tactics, in essence becoming the epitomy of what he once despised (tyrants in power who manipulated those below them), and uttering those profound words: "Ramza...what did you get...?" are the reason that video games are a major part of my life. I can safely say that the most important reason that I sit down and play a game is because of the way it makes me think, and the psychological processes I go through to grasp things like that in the story.

In closing, I'd like to re-stress that video games should be recognized as a source of teaching and of mentally challenging a person, and not of stimulating violent behavior in a person. These games all have the potential to make a person think deeply about their values, and what really matters in life.

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