Hot Milky Drink is a blog, mostly, about games and education, run by Derek Robertson. This post is a fairly typical worry about games:
I appreciate that the game is a 16+ and that it is aimed at young and older adults and that in general people are not stupid but…I can’t help feeling that games such as these can help construct an implicit acceptance of an ideology that says I’m bigger and stronger than you so I’ll kill your family and rape your daughter, tie you up and lock you up without charge and and steal all your wealth.
It does, however, raise a very important question for anyone extolling the pluses of simulation and games for teaching: How do games affect us? On the one hand, certain viewpoints are saying that violence in games has no effect on people, but on the other, people behind educational games are saying they can have a very profound impact on users.
The post doesn’t offer an answer. Is the distinction that between acquiring knowledge and skills, contrasted with effects on our motivations? I’m not sure, but I suspect while a game can convey knowledge and mental skills, it can only work with the motives that are already there.
One of the commenters mentions Grossman, though as ever when he’s cited, no distinction is made between the ability to kill and the desire to, nor any mention of other techniques used to back up training with human shaped targets, nor that soldiers will still suffer nervous breakdowns and PTSD after too much exposure to combat. We are far more than our conditioned reptilian reflexes.
I get the feeling that very few people on either side of the debate are being completely fair to the views they oppose.
There is also this interesting chunk in the comments:
afterwards one attendee told me of his dilemma when his boy asked if he could have a war game (it may have been Call of Duty, I’m not 100% sure), a game which the parent felt uncomfortable about. However he agreed on the condition that they also studied the events of the game in a wider context, bringing in books and dramas and so on, so that the game content could be experienced in a greater context.
The less context a piece of media puts around mature content, the less mature that piece of media is. Hence age restrictions: Older humans supposedly have greater ability to contextualise for themselves. So the idea seems to go.