Where are the positive video games?

So the computer game Manhunt 2 has been banned from the UK…Good! We already have enough violence and senseless killing in the real world…Actively promoting and encouraging it in the virtual world is a step too far I think – and that doesn’t just go for Manhunt 2.

The British Board of Film Classification issued a statement following the ban, saying “To issue a certificate to Manhunt 2…would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors.” I’m extremely happy that they have taken a responsible stance on this and shown an appreciation of the fact that not everyone is of sound enough mind to know the difference between a computer game and reality. In fact, the game has already been implicated in the murder of a London teenager.

Forget about choice, freedom of expression and so on – if the companies making the games do not care about the potential dangerous effects of their products, someone else has to. Research has consistently shown that violent video games are significantly associated with increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior. It is actually thought that the research so far actually underestimates the effects of such games.

What I want to know is: is it only murder and extreme violence that sells? And who creates these things – who thinks ‘wow! cold and callous slaughtering of people is a really great concept for a game!’?? Aren’t games meant to be fun? When did killing someone become people’s idea of fun?

Finally – where are the positive video games? Where are the ones that promote good citizenship, promote social harmony and positivity. It may sound cheesy but the banning of Manhunt 2 in the UK acknowledges that video games have a strong impact upon the people who play them – so why aren’t they being used as a catalyst for positive societal change, especially considering that the gaming industry is now arguably bigger and more powerful than Hollywood?

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