A video game is an electronic game, which is played on a device such as a computer or console. Video games started out being played almost exclusively on dedicated devices (consoles, handhelds, etc.) but due to the advancement in computer technology and the availability of personal computers, many games now run on these instead. Video games are generally designed to be addictive, as this helps to build and maintain a strong user base, and sell the product to those who may try it.
Nature of video games
Video games vary greatly in type and complexity, but all games are alike in that they translate player input (from a controller, mouse, keyboard or motion sensor) into onscreen actions. Games are often stored on some sort of digital media - ROM cartridge, CD, DVD, flash memory chip, or even cassette tape for early computer games. Older or less expensive games sometimes used dedicated chips which were pre-programmed to play certain games only. In recent years, game developers have moved to digital distribution, allowing customers to purchase game licenses online, and download over the internet. On PCs, this is often done through marketplaces such as Valve corporation's Steam service, or Electronic Arts' Origin service, while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have their own digital distribution services.
Home consoles are classified by generation to indicate their relative power and date of release. The current major consoles (XBox360, PS3, Wii) are considered seventh generation. Handheld consoles are not generally put into generations due to their more irregular release schedules.
Video games in the course of their existence have grown from the simple arcade style games, and have become more detailed and separated from one another. Genres can now include first person shooters, racing, simulation, role-playing, sports, action, strategy, massively multiplayer online (MMO), puzzle, Sport simulation, and many others. Even then, games can combine genres, such as Mass Effect (Role Playing and Third Person Shooting), or not fit nicely into any genre, like The Mystery of the Druids. The most popular genres tend to be shooters, action, and roleplaying games. Some video games are based on movies, such as Star Wars.
Popularity & Controversy
Games have risen in popularity over the years, as is shown in the rise of video games sales from the 1980s until today. This has brought with it a various amount of controversy as the video game industry continues to grow with its original player base.
Video games are addictive activities targeted at teenagers, sometimes with tragic results. Certain genres of games are becoming increasingly violent and offensive, attracting the attention of legislators in many states to protect the exploitation of children by them. Games such as Grand Theft Auto are very violent, sexually explicit, and feature criminal behavior. These games are rated "M 17+" for "Mature," but courts have stricken down laws preventing retailers from selling them to children, under an interpretation that the First Amendment protects offensive video games even for children. After a Conservapedian filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to consider this issue, it surprised liberals by granting certiorari.
However, in 2011, the Supreme Court denied a ban on the sale of violent video games in California, claiming they were protected as they "qualify for First Amendment Protection" and pointing out that there has historically been no shortage of violent imagery in children's fairytales, classical literature, and comics. Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia pointed out that "disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression", and continued that any effects of violent video games on children "are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media".
It has also been suggested that it is the role of parents to regulate what their children play, and that laws restricting video game vendors are an effort to replace parents' decisions with the government's decisions.
As some wake up to how harmful violent video games are, the video game industry declined in 2012, though it remains much bigger than Hollywood. Video games are likely the single biggest cause of bright young men dropping out of college. While video games were originally designed for children and adolescent males, video games have become too popular with adult males, many of whom will often neglect family and work to spend a copious number of hours playing video games including online games as World of Warcraft in a video game addiction. Liberal denial discourages people from recognizing the problem.
Arguments against video game usage
See young mass murderers for their connection to video games.
Video games have been accused of being linked to murders by young people and other violence, stress-induced health problems (including unexpected heart attacks), atheism, obesity, and sexual immorality. Several prominent murderers in recent years were inspired by video games. Young mass murderer Adam Lanza was "immersed in a perverse video game world" and "killed himself to prevent law enforcement from taking his 'points.'" He plotted his rampage far in advance and "learned the principles of ... the tactical reload" from his video games. Video games has also been used as "murder simulators" by American army, in order to desensitize young man, into triggering the gun better, and with less doubt, thus killing enemies more efficiently. 
After a murderous rampage by another video game user in Norway:
|“||A number of Norway stores have pulled violent video games from sale - including several Call of Duty games and World of Warcraft - in the wake of the massacre carried out by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22.||”|
Unbeknownst to many, the video game industry is partly subsidized by taxpayers, even in the conservative Texas. In 2015, a spat broke out between the video game and film industries about the millions they would receive from government.
Video game usage and excess weight
Due to the sedentary lifestyle of many who abuse video games or play them for extremely long amounts of time, there is an absence of exercise - meaning addiction to video games can cause an increase in weight to unhealthy proportions.
The National Obesity Forum indicates:
|“||The figures highlighted by the "F as in Fat" annual report [Trust for America's Health 2007 Annual Report] were retrieved from the Data Resource Center on Child and Adolescent Health website. The analysis of these figures reveals a strong positive correlation between hours spent on TV/Video game play and the percentage of children classed as overweight per state. The state of Utah was acclaimed with the lowest percentage of children overweight, and was found to have the second lowest proportion of children spending 2 or more hours on TV/Video game play. The District of Columbia, found to have the highest percentage of overweight children, also had the highest percentage nationwide of children spending an incredible 4 hours plus in front of a screen.||”|
Slate reported in 2012:
|“||The American Academy of Pediatrics tells parents that children’s total entertainment media time should not exceed two hours daily. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, average kids watch at least twice that much television. They also spend more than an hour per day online and another hour on video games. These activities, collectively called “screen time,” are widely blamed for the tripling of obesity rates in children since the 1980s.||”|
The University of Texas at Austin declares:
|“|| A study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin suggests that watching television is not associated with children’s weight, but playing electronic games may be—especially for girls.
“Children with higher weight status spent moderate amounts of time playing electronic games, while children with lower weight status spent either a little or a lot of time playing electronic games,” said Dr. Elizabeth A. Vandewater, who led the study published in the February issue of the Journal of Adolescence.
Although the greater weight/video game link was found in this study with girls, she noted that future studies may reveal similar findings for boys. Either way, the findings could be significant considering how many American children play electronic games.
The Pittsburg Gazette reports: "A 2010 study from the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found video games to blame, chiefly because children, boys especially, tend to eat more when they're playing them."
Irreligion, video game usage and obesity
Relevant Magazine reported about the journal article in The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion entitled No Other Gods Before Mario?: Game Preferences Among Atheistic and Religious Individuals:
|“||A new study of 228 college students found that while just about everyone prefers video games to regular board games (duh), those who claim no religion vastly prefer video games compared to the religious peers. It's a small study, but the director, Chris Burris, has an interesting hypothesis about why atheists prefer video games. Burris believes that atheists tend to be less good at "generating emotionally evocative internal simulations of experience." Simply put, he believes that religious people tend to be more imaginative, and are able to craft their own sense of play around simple games, while non-religious people tend to prefer the concrete rules afforded by video games.||”|
As far as the relationship between irreligion and obesity, please examine the articles below:
As far as "exergaming" (Video games which prompt the users to engage in physical activity), Slate reports:
|“||After three months, “there was no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general or at any time,” the authors wrote. (The year before, a similar study in New Zealand had shown only minor improvement with active games; kids weighed just a pound less after six months of "exergaming".)||”|
Overcoming addiction to video games
As with any addiction, video game usage can be hard to overcome as soon as one is drawn into it. Fortunately, faith-based efforts to overcome addiction can be effective and rewarding, and churches exist in part to help people overcome harmful vices in the world.
Catholicism recommends that people give up something they like on Fridays, and throughout all of Lent. For some, it is easy to end a bad habit altogether once one is successful in giving it up at least one day a week, or throughout the 40 days of Lent.
The Bible can be extraordinarily helpful and inspiring. Replacing video game usage with readings from Psalms and Proverbs can turn a vice into an enormous boost to one's life. One approach is to read the Proverbs chapter having the same number as the day of the month (e.g., on February 17 read Proverbs 17), and read five chapters in Psalms that that also correspond to the day of the month (e.g., read Psalms 81-85) on February 17 (17 times 5 is 85). Passages from the New Testament where Jesus mentions Hell can also be tremendously beneficial in combating vice.
In general, acquiring good habits can help drive out bad ones. Setting goals helps: give yourself a weekly or monthly report card on all aspects of life.
Some people point out that violent video games cause violent behavior in some children. The effects of violent video games on the developing psyche of children and adolescents vary greatly and of course have much to do with the mental stability of the subject in question. Serious crimes have often been associated with video games. For example, a 14-year-old brutally murdered a video arcade employee one morning and his cousin stands trial for murdering the store manager when he entered the store shortly thereafter. In the USA, all retail games carry ratings from the ESRB, a video game ratings organization.
Some claim that kids who don't play video games at all seem to show more violent tendencies. Of course, as expected, those who played violent video games for large amounts of time also showed violent tendencies, however the study claims that this is a "risk marker", not an actual cause.
Although nudity is not prominent in western video games, there are various products containing sexually-suggestive material. One reason for the relative lack of explicitly sexual material in western games may be the refusal of retailers including Wal-Mart (the leading distributor of video games in the United States) and Toys R Us (the world's largest toy themed retailer) to sell games carrying an "Adults-Only" rating. One notable target of controversy is the Grand Theft Auto series after a third-party mod was released that allowed the player to engage in a mini-game containing explicit sexual material. Mods are, as "third-party" would imply, fan-made and are not the responsibility of the game's developer. Other sources of this criticism relate to the game Tomb Raider as it was one of the first games where a female character (the protagonist) is depicted and advertised as a sex symbol.
Arguments for video game usage
Video games have been suspected of giving otherwise liberal people some virtual conservative viewpoints. They have also been shown to help people to become more attuned to their surroundings and increase coordination, and in the future may be used to treat people with visual problems and to train soldiers.
While evidence is somewhat conflicting, some also say that video games keep the participants engaged and more mentally active than alternative entertainment, such as watching television.
Video Games & Society
As video games become more popular, their impact on society becomes ever more present. A prime example of this is the massive ad campaigns for the Halo series, as well as Grand Theft Auto. Advertising, merchandising, and even social pressures have changed in the ever-growing influence of video gaming.
Due to their popularity, various corporations have begun placing advertisements for their products within the context of the game. Second Life, an Internet-based virtual world, has attempted to blur the lines between real-world and virtual world, and companies such as Adidas, Reebok, and Dell have set up virtual stores selling real-world products within the game. Reuters also operates a news bureau reporting news in the game.
Education in Video Games
It is unlikely that there is any educational value in video game usage, compared with better activities that could be pursued.
But Firaxis Games, a noteworthy video game development company, has been creating a video game series called Civilization for nearly a decade. Civilization is a simulation game that allows the player to lead a nation from ancient times to modern day. It features a dynamic military system, politics, trading, and historical content. It has been recognized for its unintentional educational properties.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is another example of a video game that may have some slight educational value.
Some games are also created specifically as teaching tools. While they may not offer detailed, useful knowledge, they typically attempt at least to teach useful concepts or general information. An example of these is the now dated game, Oregon Trail.
Faith in Video Games
Faith in Video Gaming has, as a rule, either led to the creation of new and dynamic antagonists, or video games that are mediocre, such as Spiritual Warfare and Bible Adventure for the Nintendo, or The Bible Game for various systems. Bible Adventure in particular is infamous for its poor design and playability.
The Bible, or other such religious texts, tell a story spanning many different viewpoints. Turning these ideas into a video game, however, most often leads to games that tend to bore most video game audiences.
Religion has, however, taken a prominent place amongst the various heroes and villains in video games. The Breath of Fire series and the Shin Megami Tensei games, in particular, use a god as a main antagonist in many of its incarnations. Other games to use religion in some way include the Final Fantasy series, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, Black and White, Heaven and Hell, Xenogears, Okami, and the Tales series, particularly Tales of Symphonia. Unfortunately, many (not all) of the aforementioned games (And nearly any Role Playing game from East Asia) present religion (or it's respective church and followers) as evil, fake, or having ulterior and nefarious motives.
Games may include a fictional religion as part of the setting if the use of a real religion may invite undesirable controversy.
Video game reviewers have sometimes unjustly attacked and reviewed games where real-world religion plays a notable role. One of the most prominent examples of this is the game Left Behind: Eternal Forces.
- Some claim that 2/3rds of videogamers are over 18 years old, but far more people are over that age and a much higher percentage of minors are videogamers.Only a third of videogamers are under 18
- BROWN, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL. v. ENTERTAINMENT MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION ET AL.
- Stephen Fry talks gaming
- Teenager dies from a video game addiction
- Childhood Obesity Department of Health and Human Services, retrieved Sept 18th 2011
- TV Video Games and obesity
- TV Video Games and obesity
- Are TV and Video Games Making Kids Fat?
- Video games rather than TV may be linked to childhood obesity, University of Texas at Austin news
- TV, video games linked to obesity, Pittsburg Gazette
- Why Do Atheists Like Video Games More Than Religious People Do?, Relevant Magazine
- Are TV and Video Games Making Kids Fat?
- http://wii.qj.net/New-research-reveals-kids-who-don-t-play-videogames-at-all-are-more-at-risk-of-violent-tendencies/pg/49/aid/118505 New research reveals kids who don't play video games at all are more at risk of violent tendencies
- See Toys "R" Us's video games policy
- Ashley, Robert. "The Secret History of Videogame Sex." Official Playstation Magazine Feb. 2006: 96-99.
- What They Play - the parent's guide to video games
- Left Behind Games - a Christian, family friendly video game company
- Chapter Fourteen: Popular Culture–A Decadent Indulgence, The Epoch Times (from How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World).