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In Defense of Video Games

By Nick Randall

1999 was not a great year for teenagers. Due to such tragic incidents as the Columbine High School shooting, teenagers were put under a powerful magnifying glass to see what might make us go bad. Over and over on the nightly news and on daytime talk shows, so-called experts announced they had concluded that what drove these teens to violence was the media. They blamed television, they blamed music, and most of all, they blamed video games.

I am and always have been a big video game player. My dad would take me to the local arcade, Captain Video, when I was four years old. He had to bring a milk crate for me to stand on so I would reach the controls. Video games have come a long way since I first started playing, thanks to both technology and our society. When I first started playing, the most popular game featured a fat Italian plumber who had to jump over barrels being thrown by a huge ape in order to save his girlfriend. Now the biggest games are those where a well-armed commando must kill extremely-lifelike Nazis, aliens, or sometimes both. I am the first to admit that video games are more violent than ever before, but I don't have a problem with that. In fact, I love playing violent video games. My favorite video game right now is Carmageddon 2. It's a racing game and to get to the finish line first you have to destroy all your opponents and run over lots of pedestrians.

Run over pedestrians? For fun? Is that sick? Is that twisted? In real life of course it is, but video games are not real life.

I've played just as many violent video games for just as many hours as any teenager has, and you'll have to trust me when I tell you that I am a completely normal, non-violent kid. All my friends play these games too, and they too are normal, non-violent kids. Is it okay for kids to play violent video games? Yes, but there is a catch. Violent video games are okay if the kids have good parents. It is as simple as that. Kids need to be taught the difference between reality and fantasy, and it is the duty of the parents to do that. Do I love playing video games where I go on shooting rampages? Yes, I'll admit it, I love it. Have I ever thought, even as a fantasy, that it would be a remotely good idea to ever go on a real shooting rampage? Never in a million years! I am a well-adjusted person. I know better, but some kids don't.

Teenagers who commit these terrible acts of violence may enjoy playing the violent video games that my friends and I enjoy playing, but the video games don't make these teenagers violent. They have problems, and they would do these things anyway even if video games didn't exist. A psycho who plays video games is still a psycho. It is up to parents to raise their kids properly so that they are mentally healthy and know not to hurt people. If the parents fail here, taking away video games won't fix the problem unless the kid is also locked up in a dark room on Mars with cotton in his ears. Parents who slack off in raising their child can't rectify their neglect by taking away video games. The kid will still see violence that he wants to emulate, whether on TV, in the movies or just walking down the street. To quote the movie Scream, "Movies don't make psychos, they just give psychos ideas." Video games don't create psychos either, but if some screwed up kid is playing one, it could act as a catalyst to the violent tendencies the kid already has. So, if you have raised your child right, let him have his violent video games, and if you still don't feel comfortable about it, then maybe the problem isn't video games, maybe the problem is you.

Nick Randall is fifteen years old and lives in Los Angeles.

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