Video Game Myths

Not too long ago, Henry Jenkins - the director of comparative studies at MIT - wrote an article debunking eight of the major myths about video games. If you'd like to read the entire article, you can find it here. But there are a couple that I'd like to mention, mostly because certain politicians have been using video games as a way to pander to their constituents lately (*cough* Hilary Clinton *cough*), and have been playing on parents' fears without any real science or research to back up the claims they are making.

Claim #1 - Video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.
What the federal crime statistics actually show is we are in the middle of a 30-year low in the rate of violent juvenile crime. The overwhelming majority of kids play video games - 90% of boys and 40% of girls. Why aren't all of these kids comitting crimes? According to the Surgeon General (in a 2001 report), the strongest factors in violent juvenile crimes were mental stability and quality of home life. Which makes sense, when you think about it.

Claim #2 - Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
Are they serious? Anyone who has ever actually played a video game (especially an RPG), will agree that video games can be an extremely powerful form of expression. Because the player participates directly in the story, sometimes a good video game can even be more powerful than a book or a movie, where the viewer (or reader) is just a passive bystander. Video games have made me personally feel every emotion in the sprectrum, at one point or another. Comments like this one are just plain ignorant. Will Wright, the creator of the incredibly popular game "The Sims" said in an interview that "games are perhaps the only medium that allows us to experience guilt over the actions of fictional characters. In a movie, one can always pull back and condemn the character or the artist when they cross certain social boundaries. But in playing a game, we choose what happens to the characters." At different points in our history, this same complaint (of something not being a "meaningful form of expression") has been leveled at jazz, rock and roll, and comic books - all three of which are now widely excepted as art forms in their own right.

Anybody else have any opinions or comments they'd like to add?