Other worlds

Friday 16 January 2004 11:42 AM

As a parent I must agree with Evan Davey and Raymond Hawkes (16/1) who variously highlight the rich creative stimulus that computer gaming offers, together with the primacy of good parenting in moral formation. However concerns remain, and Christopher Bantick (15/1) raised weighty issues, which warrant a less reactionary response and more thoughtful reflection. For instance, both respondents emphasise the extensive online friendship networks formed through gaming. Very true. But somehow this seems a disturbingly diminished evolution of "friendship". Bantick emphasised the isolating impact of gaming on family relationships. Our forbears whose experience of open neighbourhood living is a dream to us, would struggle to conceive of "friends" who will realistically never meet. The question of violence may be well worn, but can't be dismissed. Much ancient wisdom testifies that a person becomes whatever their mind feasts upon. Non-violent games are the exception rather than the rule, and many young gamers play for several hours most days. If violent movies have contributed to brutal crimes by people who passively watched them, it's fair to ask what could develop when a person frequents a violent world in which they pull the trigger. Objective research is desperately needed.