Home About EIS →

Games corrupt the youth and cure the old

The front page of Lakeland, Florida’s The Ledger for November 10, 1982 has a remarkable juxtaposition of Associated Press articles about the effects of videogames.

A short blurb about a nursing home experimenting with Ms. Pac-Man explains that it helps residents “develop their motor skills”, as well as aiming at a loftier goal: “encourage creativeness, inventiveness, decision-making … and strengthen self-confidence”. It’s accompanied by an excellent photograph of three elderly nursing-home residents crowded around a cocktail-style Ms. Pac-Man cabinet.

A summary of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s speech on videogames, meanwhile, brings us news that children become addicted to games “body and soul”. Games also encourage violence, since “everything is ‘eliminate, kill, destroy, let’s get up and do it fast'”. They even “induce sleeplessness in kids” and produce “aberrations in childhood behavior”; overall, “there’s nothing constructive in the games” (with an afterthought that maybe educational games are okay). The debate sounds almost modern, with the exception that the modern debates over violent videogames focus on gore and realism, whereas Koop’s concerns are, necessarily, on a much more symbolic level, about the ubiquity of shooting/killing/etc. metaphors. There’s also a somewhat separate worry about the psychological effects of a fast-paced, frenetic aesthetic.

One wonders if the Ledger‘s editors are purposely getting a dig in at Koop, or just aiming for some balance; in either case, that’s two stories about the psychological effects of games that complement each other nicely.

This entry was posted in Gaming Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.