Opinion: Addicted to Killing
"Call of Duty" series encourages detrimental behaviors
Four hundred million dollars.
What would that mean to you?
What if you got it all in one day?
To the heartless creators of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” it means profit. Big profit.
“Modern Warfare 3″ was the biggest entertainment release in the history of the human race.
It, like its brothers “Black Ops” and “Modern Warfare 2″ before it, broke the five-day revenue record. “Modern Warfare 3″ made $775 million in that time. For perspective, that’s almost four times what “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two” made in the same period.
This makes me wonder: what the heck is wrong with us?
Have we been so perverted by the thrills of video games that we don’t even realize when they lose all real value?
Are we so addicted to the flashes and sound effects that the entire teenage population flocks to the game stores, eager for new ways to kill and destroy?
By playing these video games, like the “Call of Duty” series, where all we do is kill the enemy, whoever that may be, we are disrespecting those who are actually fighting in wars.
The United States is a country that has been at war for decades, but hasn’t seen war on its own soil for far longer.
The majority of the population has forgotten what war is really like. These games give the impression that it’s exciting and adventurous, a blur of kill streaks and rewards that enable you to kill even more people.
The only thing that the games and reality have in common is that people die.
In real life, they don’t regenerate.
There are even fictionalized plot lines that seek to justify this bloodbath. These games pit players against enemies who belong to actual, real-world nations, with which the U.S. is either engaged in conflict or could have had conflict with in the past.
This can inflame existing violent tendencies and aggression against the “enemy” nations in the minds of our teenage citizens – who, let me remind you, will one day be voting on whether or not we should go to war.
The plot lines completely disrespect the reality of these situations, and desensitize us to the sacrifices that our nation’s soldiers make every day.
Of course, there are also soldiers and veterans out there who play these games that recreate war. Maybe they do it because they miss the action, or because their new life isn’t what they thought it would be.
But they’re not the soldiers who were paralyzed for life fighting to keep us free. They’re not the thousands of veterans out on the streets because they can’t put their lives back together.
And they certainly aren’t the guys who died.
These games have cultivated a violent culture where high scores in virtual contests translate in some degree to respect and admiration in real life. But not for defeating the Russians or protecting America – this respect arises from the number of kills that the player achieves, or how well he killed someone.
And somehow, this has become just as much a part of teenage life as anything else ever was. The week these games come out, you can’t hardly walk through the hallways without hearing someone talking about a kill streak or a head shot.
Even Jr. high-schoolers excitedly discuss reviews, and generally talk about the new edition in the series as if they were addicted to killing.
And you know what? It’s possible that they are.
There are many studies that have been conducted that warn of the dangers of video games in general. Personally, I have nothing against most video games – games that make you think, like Tetris, have even been proven to increase brain functionality – but there are worrying studies concerning violent video games specifically.
In general, they all point to the same net result: activity in key areas of the brain decreases. These regions of the brain include the areas that regulate emotions, aggressive behavior, and self-control.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you “think” violent video games are affecting you – if you play them in excess, if you immerse yourself in them for long periods of time, they are.
Even if you don’t believe the scientists’ argument that those three effects lead to a desensitization to violence, the simpler results are quite evident to everyone.
Of course, you can side with the opposition to these studies.
And there is opposition – by the video game industry, which is out to make money at the expense of its customers.
Virtually all the studies that support the gaming industry have been funded by the gaming industry, and so I must question their credibility – has anyone else noticed that money buys endorsement regardless of science?
And the scientists that oppose violence in video games aren’t just a few hippies scattered around the world.
A former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, is among the most open opposition, calling these games a “crushing public health problem.”
Now sure, this isn’t like the plague – everyone has the right to decide whether to bring this affliction onto themselves or not – but the industry has poisoned the media and made us believe that the negative effects are negligible, if any. When put under actual scientific scrutiny, the industry’s arguments simply fall apart.
It’s appalling to me that anyone would even be interested in these games, let alone seem to dedicate their lives to them.
Is there no value in reading a good book anymore? Or watching a well-executed movie? Or actually talking to your friends when you hang out at their house, instead of trying to kill them and anyone else in sight?
These games are a blight on our society, one that I fear we will never be rid of.
Each successive generation will be born into a society that is more and more accepting of violence. The games will only become more over-the-top, detrimental traits in people will become more obvious, the game industry giants will continue to grow, and the world as a whole will have to suffer the consequences.