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Sexism, Violence and Racism in Computer Games
« on: January 18, 2017, 11:45:30 AM »
Published: November 19, 2006 by The Bohol Standard
By Atty. Gee Biliran

Practically all teenagers (and some adults) play computer games on their play stations. Those who could not afford to buy one can easily go to the nearest internet café and play an online game there for hours.

Playing computer games is likewise my nephews’ favorite pastime. I tried “playing” basketball with them one time and to my amusement, was able to shoot the ball from under one ring all the way to the other ring. It was fun for a while but playing the real game, which we did when we were kids, was a lot more fun. And healthier.

The kids also play the “Grand Theft Auto,” a game which earns you points as you kill and steal. The more you kill and steal, the more points you have. I remember watching with shock as the kids played it, laughing and enjoying themselves with their “killing and stealing sprees.”

Turned out, my shock was not unfounded. I read an article in the Reader’s Digest about an African-American teenager from a middle-class suburb in the United States who was arrested after stealing a car and killing its owner. When asked why he did it, he bragged that he knew what to do as he had mastered the “Grand Theft Auto” computer game.

Likewise in the United States, a teenager and his best friend killed everybody inside the school, using high-powered firearms. Their killing spree was patterned after a computer game which they mastered for several days. The kids, who were considered nerds in school (one played the piano), studied beforehand the layout of their school canteen, library and lobby to ensure success of the rampage. In the movie “Butterfly” which was based on a true story, the kids’ face looked as stoic as the characters in the computer game as they methodically shot everyone in sight, even as their victims-the school principal, classmates, friends and schoolmates-pleaded for mercy, blood splattering everywhere as they shot people they knew and met everyday.

In China, a 13-year-old boy jumped to his death from a tall building after playing one of the popular “Warcraft: Orcs and Humans” online games for 36 hours straight. He left behind a suicide note saying he wanted “to join the heroes of the game he worshipped.”

Specialists at a Beijing hospital examined the kid’s diary, school records and suicide note and concluded that the kid “had excessively indulged in unhealthy games and contracted serious internet addiction before his death.”

Several cities in China have clinics to treat what psychiatrists have dubbed “Internet addiction” in users, many of them children and teenagers who play online games or surf the Web for days at a time.

China has 111 million Internet users, second only to the United States. It is one of the world’s biggest markets for online games, with tens of millions of players, many of who hunker down for hours in front of PCs in public Internet cafes.

Concerned about the violence and sexual content of some games, the Chinese government has imposed curfews and time limits on children in Internet cafes and banned them near schools.

It is not, however, only violence that plagues computer and online games these days.

In a study of four of the best-selling games designed and published in the United States during a 20-year span: Kung Fu, Warcraft 3, Shadow Warrior and Grand Theft Auto 3, one Robert Parungao, a Canadian-Filipino-Chinese based in Canada, came up with findings that some popular video games promote racist, negative stereotypes of Asians that would be unacceptable in other forms of media.

According to Parungao, the games feature evil gangsters, all of them non-white, who “function as narrative obstacles to be overcome, mastered or ultimately

blown to smithereens by the white hero.”

In reaction to Parungao’s study, some say racist stereotypes in games is terrible. Other people in the games community say, ‘Lighten up, it’s a game, you don’t have

to worry about political correctness.”

While blatant racism is not tolerated in mainstream films or in television, racism in video games has not been given any notice. We’ve heard about sex and violence, but

racism in video games is new territory.

Parungao’s study is one of the first to look at racism in video games.

Parungao expressed concern that because games are interactive, they may have more effect on a player’s real-life behavior than television or film, “being that you’re much more engaged with it, or it

could have the counter-effect.”

According to Parungao, “the most insidious thing about racism

is when people accept it. Studies like this help create consciousness.”

Sadly, while computers are very helpful in this modern world, they have often been instrumental in the proliferation of the culture of violence and racism among children.

It’s about time parents intervene-like help choose the computer game their kids would purchase, or put the computer in the family room, instead of in the kids’ bedrooms, so that the kids could be better monitored.

Our authorities should likewise ban violent and racist computer games in internet cafes and close down erring establishments.

Unless we take drastic measures, violence and racism among our kids would not be surprising anymore.

Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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