We recently had the chance to talk with Kevin Schut about his new Brazos book, Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games.
Kevin Schut (PhD, University of Iowa) is associate professor and chair of the department of media and communication at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. His research uses video games to investigate the intersection of communication, technology, and culture. He has published articles and chapters on video games and history, games and mythology, and evangelical involvement with video games.
In part 3, Kevin discussed ethics and video games.
In today’s fourth and final post, Kevin addresses violence and video games and whether we should fear “game addiction.”
Does playing violent video games make people act violently? Does “game addiction” really exist?
Experts in the field of media effects argue over the effects of violence in games. Some argue there’s no clear evidence of any kind of effect. Those who see evidence for effects certainly don’t go so far as to say that playing games will make anyone physically brutal. Rather, they’d argue there’s proof that playing video games has a statistically-significant impact on short-term aggressive attitudes. In other words, playing a violent game jacks up a player for at least a little while.
Everyone agrees, however, there is currently no evidence on the long-term effects of playing violent games. The thing is, I would prefer that this be a moral discussion than an effects-based one anyway. I could imagine a world where there’s clear evidence that playing violent games has no effects on people, but I’m not sure that would make it right.
That said, I personally don’t think that playing violence is necessarily wrong, but it often is. Of Games and God has an extensive discussion of these issues.
Game addiction is not a clinical term… yet. There are mounds of anecdotal evidence that many gamers behave toward games in many of the same ways addicts deal with drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Video game designers often employ the principles of behavioral psychology, making games that are ideally suited to compulsive play—there are open discussions about this in the game industry. Even those of us who have our game-playing largely under control know the temptation to play just a little more than we should.
All this is to say that I think game addiction is real, even if it’s not a clinical term right now. However, I also think that just about anything can be addictive, including reading, stamp-collecting, and cooking. Most cultural activities that are potentially good also carry risk, and I think that’s true with video games. In Of God and Games I talk extensively about the difference between healthy and unhealthy escape.
In this video, Kevin Schut explains what Of Games and God is about.
In this video, Kevin Schut answers the question, “Are video games dangerous or wonderful?”