The Moral Cost of Video Games

grandtheftauto.jpg Another day, yet another op ed piece on the moral failings of video games - author Matthew Devereux says in the Christian Science Monitor that it's not the short-term consequences of violent video games parents (and society at large) should be worried about, but the moral decay caused by 'lack of moral consequence.' With the attention paid to the decisions of games like Bioshock and the potentials for subtle handling of dicey moral issues, it's a somewhat timely article, though I think Devereux is painting video games with far too broad a brush:

Unbridled competition combined with no moral consequence eventually leads to a lack of compassion. And without compassion, humanity is lost.

What games risk instilling, not just in kids, but in anyone who plays them, is a kind of sociopathy: a dearth of conscience. Whether this might be imitated outside of gaming is beside the point. What we should be asking ourselves is if we really want to spend ever more time playing things that encourage these values. That's a moral question, one that's easily sidelined in favor of simply having fun, but it's something we all must consider as the pastime grows more popular.

I'm not sure that whatever moral shortcomings might come about from 'unbridled competition' in other areas is 'beside the point,' and I also think it's short sighted to ignore all the totally non-violent options out there. As pointed out at Game Politics, "Where's the moral ruthlessness in Mario Galaxy, Madden, Nintendogs and SimCity Societies?"

The moral cost of video games [Christian Science Monitor via Game Politics]


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