During our time at OP Live, my team and I attended a few panels of what they called “Parent Talks.” They were designed to educate parents of children who are interested in video games. With the growth of the industry, there’s no question that people, not just parents, might be confused about what’s going on. These panels dove into the copious amounts of myths surrounding video games, and the reality behind them.
One of the biggest obstacles in the gaming industry is the myths that surround video games. That they cause violence, antisocial behavior, rage, depression, and overall bad for our health. You see it everywhere. In movies, in court hearings, on Facebook, and on the news. Video games have been blamed for many crimes, the deterioration of individuals mental health, and for the lack of physical interaction children get. When in reality, video games do quite the opposite.
Eli Luna, a developer in the industry for over 15 years, talked about the differences in the social aspect of this generation of gaming. He walked us through the life of a gamer in the 1980s, during the rise of the popularity of gaming, playing a single player game in front of the tv until your parents told you to go play outside. Luna explained that problem-solving skills were developed through gaming and social skills, as well as hand-eye coordination and communication skills. Fast forward to games today, many develop all those skills in one game. He referenced team games such as Overwatch, World of Warcraft, CS:Go, and even Fortnite. Luna mentioned that it is a team effort between parent and child to keep a balance between gaming and everything else. Parents are responsible for making sure that children are not sitting in front of the screen all day, but still need to encourage them to play to develop those skills, especially if gaming is an important hobby.
He then referenced the all terrible myth of video games causing violence. He went back to his example of being a kid in the 1980s and playing outside with his friends. He told us the memory of the group of them frequently playing war… with bb guns. He described them getting up on Saturday mornings, getting dressed up in gear they had gotten from the army surplus store, grabbing walkie-talkies and their guns, and spending all day outside fighting. Much like Call of Duty, or other games that draw their inspiration from war. Luna believes there is no real link between video games and violence when dozens of other factors contribute to violent actions.
Robert Akins, another game developer in the industry, then discussed why video games are important to industries outside of gaming. Akins helped found the company Balanced Media | Technology and their program Hewmen. Hewmen is a data-processing and distributed computing technology that executes machine-learning algorithms coupled with human-guided interactions facilitated through games. Basically, while you play their games, you’re helping them find them find medical breakthroughs. Akins stated that on multiple occasions he saw these games being played by cancer patients, and while they were contributing to medical research, playing games also improved their mood and their tolerance toward their treatment.
Akins not only talked about the links to video games can have to medical breakthroughs, but he also touched on many of the points Eli Luna discussed.
Both Akins and Luna grew up around the time video games started growing in popularity, and they both been in the industry since the creation of massive online games. They have seen the effects games have had on people since their inception, and are now implying it to their work.
Of course, Akins and Luna aren’t the only ones debunking the video game myths. There are hundreds of articles debunking myths and pointing to the facts of how positive video games can be. It is a side most of us in the industry stands for, so we’ve spent time researching the argument.