Change is scary. Sometimes it creeps up on you over the course of a century – after all, it took nearly 50 years after American women earned the right to vote before they could comfortably wear pants in public. Other times, it can be downright violent.
There’s no more horrifying an emblem of how much our society has changed than the phenomenon of the school shooting. It’s such a grotesque perversion of our notions of childhood innocence that each incident shocks our culture with meteoric force. In an era saturated with high-def cameras, talking heads and more scrolling news tickers than the mind can process, this incomprehensible violence always manages to cut through the noise. They’re children, for Christ’s sake. What malevolent force could possibly motivate them to kill each other?
Unfortunately, we’ve had decades to ponder this question, and there hasn’t been a satisfying answer. That’s the other thing about change: Whether it happens over a generation or between third period and lunch, it’s all-consuming. Everything from our relationships to the way we communicate to how we view our place in the world is subject to currents that we rarely can see, let alone control.
But it’s not like us to throw up our hands in indifference. We want to know why. It’s a human need to comprehend the incomprehensible. And for better or worse, it’s this need that has placed the videogame industry at the center of the debate on the impact of media consumption on child development.
This week at The Escapist, we explore the queasy relationship between the game industry and a culture wary of the “unintended consequences” of a generation raised on digital media. In “Slave to the Beat,” Erin Hoffman dives into Audition, an online multiplayer rhythm game made for hyper-alert, lightning-thumbed preteens. Richard Aihoshi speaks with game developers about how to make online worlds more child-friendly in “MMOGs are for Kids.” Robert B. Marks ponders how violent games could affect players’ ability to respond to a crisis in “The Anatomy of Violence.” In “Monkey Play, Monkey Do,” Michael A. Mohammed examines the difficulties of establishing a concrete link between violent games and aggression. And in “Killing Me Softly,” Benjamin Asbury reports on the “war” against violent games from the front lines: a games retailer dealing with the fallout of the “Hot Coffee” scandal.