Video games are games played on a personal computer or a dedicated device, such as a video game console. They range in complexity from simple watch-like devices with inexpensive LCD screens all the way up to full-immersion devices such as flight simulators and virtual reality pods, and cover every possible genre of gaming, including puzzles, action games, and major league sports fantasies. Video game consoles come in models intended to be used at home, like Microsoft's
XBone Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation 4, and Nintendo's Wii U, or handheld systems that can be played anywhere (as long as the battery isn't dead; fortunately today's handheld systems come with internal rechargeable batteries so they don't eat up AAs like older systems like the original Game Boy), such as the Nintendo 3DS and Sony's PlayStation Vita.
The first "real" video game, a tennis game created in 1958, used a dedicated analog computer as a control system and an oscilloscope for output.
 New media are evil
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Like any new technology that traditionally appeals primarily to youth, video games have spent the last thirty years and change being accused of corrupting the youth, joining comic books, pinball, television, radio, recorded music, comprehensive sex education, role playing games, atheism, liberalism, beer, The Gay Agenda(TM), and soy products on a dubious list of moral panics created by people who forgot or maybe never knew what it was like to be a kid. Muddling the issue something fierce is the fact that video games are largely perceived as kid stuff, or at least non-artistic, and therefore superficial and unworthy of serious attention. Making the issue worse, moral guardians (such as the infamous ex-attorney Jack Thompson) take the "kid stuff" concept to ridiculous extremes, failing to distinguish between games marketed to children and games marketed to adults, and making hysterical judgements on the effects of video games on players.
Liberty University prohibits students playing "A" or games with ratings pending. They also prohibit games with sexual content, alcohol/drug use, or strong language listed on the back are also prohibited. Games containing violence are the discretion of Resident Directors. Needless to say, moral guardians (especially of the religious persuasion) have a lot of power in many countries, and outright bans are more common than many people are comfortable with. In English-speaking countries, Australia has banned several games, and at one point Greece tried to outlaw all public video gaming in a massive overreaction to a political gambling scandal. In gamer circles, Germany is notorious for its censorship laws regarding violent content in games.
 Violence in gaming
There's no getting around one point -- many video games are violent. Some violent games such as Mortal Kombat and God of War are very successful, and the latter was particularly notorious in the early 2000s for its graphic violence (among other things, blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, monster-hacking, and general nudey themes). Games such as Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne transpose graphic violence into gangster and police procedural settings, and first-person shooters (a genre dating to the 1980 arcade game Battlezone) gained a reputation from their 90s flagbearer Doom for immense amounts of gratuitous and often supernatural violence.
Needless to say, like any other new media panic, the old media loves to feast on these things -- one of the Columbine shooters, for example, was a modestly talented Doom level designer, so many people blamed their gaming rather than their social isolation or fascist political leanings for the slaughter. Pop psychologist "Dr." Phil McGraw has been known to do shows on the alleged danger of video games, as have police procedurals such as Criminal Minds and the Law and Order franchise. In the United States, the Entertainment Software Rating Board was organized to provide MPAA-like content ratings for video games, with this system also being used in Canada while Japan, Europe, and Australia have their own rating systems; however, the perception (by and large a post hoc ergo propter hoc confusing of causality and correlation) continues that excessive video game violence can cause bad behavior in youth, presumably on the assumption that video gamers have a somewhat tenuous grasp of reality. The fact that this has been said about role playing games, comics, and (in a recent case) horror novels without being borne out by studies on the subject really doesn't faze anyone involved in the moral outrage industry.
There are also concerns over video game addiction, based on the assumption that video games cause people to become socially introverted, rather than being a release for people who already are. There is some legitimate concern over this -- MMORPGs and other subscription-based games sometimes take advantage of Skinnerian operant conditioning to ensure a steady cashflow -- but by and large the question of gaming addiction comes down to whether a game is interfering with normal life functions, and the related question of whether it's being used as a substitute for other interaction. The second is not an inherently bad thing; social gaming such as Second Life or MMORPGs often serves as a highly effective social outlet for people for whom real world interaction is difficult or uncomfortable. The first, however, is potentially very destructive; unfortunately, people do confuse the two issues regularly.
To combat the negative aspect of video game addition, some countries[more detail please] have enacted laws to force a time-limitation on Massive Multiplayer Online games, where players that have been playing for three continuous hours begin to receive reduced in-game abilities. This is only effective in preventing monomania within a monomania, since players are free to switch to another game that does not assign active penalties.
 Damn that coffee is hot
There are a good number of games that don't lack for sexual content, from the relatively mild partial nudity in The Sims to the explicit sexuality of the Hot Coffee scene in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This doesn't stop game developers and modders from doing things such as creating nude skins for female characters, or creating explicitly sexual third-party content, or even creating games like the highly controversial RapeLay, a literal rape simulator written and subsequently banned in Japan. Sex in video games has therefore long been a subject of both controversy and amusement. The game Mass Effect, despite being rated M (17+) by the ESRB, caused amoral panic in the conservative media because of one mild alien sex scene that would be just fine on an evening network television show; this culminated in a Fox News shitfest where feminist undertones were used to criticize it.
 Sexism in gaming
Speaking of feminist undertones, sexism has been a problem, both in games and in the gaming community itself (which in turn influences the content in the games due to consumer demand). Despite a substantial and growing number of female gamers, there is still an overwhelming tendency for games to star male characters and neglect female ones as well as an imbalance in the treatment of male and female archetypes. The female gamers themselves are seen as special and denoted as such with terms like "girl gamer" or the arguably worse "gamer girl" (we're all "boy gamers," you know). Various excesses of immature behaviour are normal in circles regardless of the situation, but inaction in the face of blatant sexual harassment in official gaming events held is especially notable, making it very tough for female participants to maintain composure and dignity. It's been a huge source of outside ridicule and an excuse to not take gamers seriously - one that is self-inflicted.
Many of the more vocal gamers are not happy to be faced with women's rights issues within the scope of their light-hearted medium and display behaviour ranging from rude to overtly violent against any who raise these issues, as has been demonstrated by people like Anita Sarkeesian. Despite all the hate, Sarkeesian nonetheless managed to gain a lot of support for her project from the gaming community to make videos discussing game tropes that are related to women, at least in part as a backlash against aforementioned specific threats of violence and off-line exposure. This shows that there are multiple sides to every community. (Who knew?)
 Brain development
“”If Pacman had affected us as kids we'd be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.
One study suggests that video games impacts the development of the brain by not stimulating the frontal lobe. The researcher uses this to conclude that this will result in an increasingly violent society. Details of the research are vague and do not show much promise in terms of methodology, as the the scientists apparently compared 30-minutes of adding numbers non-stop with "playing Nintendo games." Beyond the obvious ambiguity, this leads to issues of not considering the unstructured nature of most video games, and the wide range of video game types, both within and beyond Nintendo.
 Miscellaneous moral mishegas
During the first surge of video game popularity in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a somewhat widespread belief that the use of multiple lives in a video game could lead players to not value their own lives (very much in the same spirit as the idea that video game players were allegedly detached enough that they wouldn't understand violence was wrong); in fact, one RW editor as a child remembers reading a letter to the editor in TV Guide from some Nervous Ninny claiming that video games should just give you only one life for the entire time you own the game, an idea later used in an annoying Flash game.
The ESRB has a very, very long list of advisories -- while most deal with sexual and violent content, there are applications such as electronic cookbooks that include advisories for "alcohol references" and a few other similar sillies. However, the main rating is usually more than sufficient to determine the suitability of the product for your eight-year-old child.
 stfu n00b
Gamer talk makes comments on YouTube seem witty and perspicacious. This concern about video games - that they let the extremely stupid feel entirely okay about behaving extremely stupidly - is in fact an entirely valid concern and good reason to burn all video games in great bonfires - immediately!
 Health issues
Another common concern about video games is health — most children consuming games are usually sitting in front of the computer, TV, and/or handheld game console and not being active.
Other known health issues include:
- Dizziness and motion sickness (the most common)
- Back injuries and chair posture
- Blistering, bruising, or cuts
- Epileptic seizures
- Heart attacks
Nintendo's current systems (as well as newer games on the now-discontinued GameCube and Game Boy Advance) display notifications related to health and safety when starting up for the reasons listed above. Notably, its 3DS has a parental control option to turn off the 3D effect (which works differently from 3D TV and movies; for example, it doesn't require special glasses) on settings for young children due to safety concerns. As noted on the boxes of 3DS games, the 3D effect is only enabled if the parental control settings are set for players seven years of age or older (likewise, turning parental controls off entirely leaves use of the 3D effect unrestricted). Up until the 3DS (including the original DS and the Wii), the notifications could not be turned off, but they only required a press of a button to get past and only appeared when the system was turned on, so it ends up less annoying than it sounds. The 3DS only displays the warning when the system is first set up (i.e. when it's fresh out of the box), but includes health and safety application on the system's main menu.
Sony's PlayStation Portable also has health and safety notifications along the lines of what Nintendo has. While general health warnings for Playstation 3 software is generally relegated to game manuals, the PS3 itself displays a warning about photosensitive epilepsy on startup while little white dots of light flash on screen. Microsoft didn't seem to have added any to its Xbox 360 system, however.
Avoiding video games to avoid health hazards won't help, since the only other option is to do nothing (which has hazards of its own), or to do something else (which also has hazards depending on the task). Regardless, health issues for non-excessive video gaming aren't any worse than other activities.
 See also
- Pretty much every title in Wikipedia's list of video games as an art form[wp] should probably be stored in the equivalent of a Svalbard Seed Vault (psst...starting with Journey)
- 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying To Get You Addicted - Basically, open ended multiplayer games, such as World of Warcraft and FarmVille are just great big digital Skinner boxes.
- Slow Down the Violence, also Tragedy and Video Game Violence
- How Videogames Changed The World
- ↑ No, really. There are people who think soy makes you gay. From WingNutDaily
- ↑ Roger Ebert and PZ Myers, the producers of BioShock, Myst, and Rez would like to have a word with you.
- ↑ Including the aforementioned electronic cookbooks, one must assume.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Law 3037/2002.
- ↑ BFG-9000: When you absolutely have to
fragincinerate every mofo in the room, accept no substitutes.
- ↑ This is the same thing that can cause both rats and people to become compulsive gamblers.
- ↑ Which, technically, was game content that had been removed from the game's plotline but which had been left in the shipping game's data files; the controversy was over the fact that modders had been able to relink the scene into the storyline.
- ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/26/arts/television/26mass.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=cooper%20lawrence&st=cse
- ↑ http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf
- ↑ http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/sexual-harassment-as-ethical-imperative-the-ugly-side-of-fighting-games
- ↑ This is how you look, everyone.
- ↑ http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/118310-Flash-Game-Makes-Players-Beat-Up-Tropes-vs-Women-Creator
- ↑ Researchers: Video games hurt brain development
- ↑ Computer games 'cause brain damage'
- ↑ Video Games And Motion Sickness -- About.com
- ↑ http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/office-chair-posture-and-driving-ergonomics
- ↑ http://www.asylum.com/2010/05/14/video-game-injuries-get-real-after-call-of-duty-emergency-room/
- ↑ Warning stated in practically any modern game manual. Related is the infamous Pokémon episode.
- ↑ Multiple anecdotal cases; this is generally a given risk for anyone who doesn't take some time out of their day to exercise.