Dear Dr K,
My mother won’t let me play violent video games because she says they will turn me into a violent person. Is this true?
Yes, it is a commonly known fact that playing violent video games turns you into a crazed, gun-toting homicidal maniac. No doubt you have some friends who are exactly like this, and have fired a shot at you at one time or another. What is less well-known, however, is that in the process of passing on its violent nature to impressionable young minds, the game itself loses its violence over the course of time. This is why you find so many video games today that start out with killing and destruction, but end in hugging, tree-planting and other such friendly or community-building activities. After you have blown up an entire nation of terrorists or killed your millionth zombie brutally with an axe, the video game asks you to participate in rebuilding the war-torn community you have just destroyed, or providing medical aid to the wounded in the zombie apocalypse.
Thus, after video games have turned our world into a violent, bloodthirsty place, we have to continue to play video games in order to vicariously satisfy our need for peace and harmony. It has come to the point where video game developers are releasing non-violent games since they realise that we face enough violence in our real lives. For example, you have the upcoming game Conflict Resolution Birds, the sequel to the immensely popular Angry Birds, in which you have to resolve the long-standing feud between the birds and pigs of the game in a non-violent manner; or Arkham Nation, the next game in the Batman series, where instead of running around beating up villains as the Dark Knight, you play as Bruce Wayne and try to allocate your billions of dollars towards the effective rehabilitation of criminals and other such philanthropic activities.
Considering this trend, it is likely that in a decade or so we will see a reversal of the present scenario, and most games will be non-violent rather than violent, and impressionable young people who play these games will be drawn out of their violent ways. Perhaps by that time, you will have your own children, and you will tell your children not to play non-violent games because they will then turn into non-violent people. This will be an undesirable trait in a predominantly violent world – however, you as a parent will be able to do little to stop it. Just as I’m sure you will find a way to play violent video games despite your mother’s disapproval and turn into a mass-murdering lunatic, your children will end up playing peaceful video games and turn into calm, happy human beings.
Of course, in that violent, zombie-infested, perpetually warring world, it is unlikely that your non-violent children will survive to see how their own children turn out.