How a video game changed my life

By Harry Chin, 14, Culver City HS
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Video games aren't necessarily bad, says Harry, and that parents should just relax.

I first saw the video game Resident Evil when I was about 11 years old. My older cousin warned me that it was really scary, but I watched for five minutes and the worst thing I saw was a puddle of blood on the floor of a dining room hall. "This isn’t so scary," I thought.

Then my cousin got his video character to run down a silent red hall. Suddenly, there was a close-up view of a zombie eating a human body, with realistic chewing sounds. Blood instantly poured out like a faucet from the body. When the zombie turned, my cousin took out his gun and blew the its head off. "OK," I thought, "that was pretty cool."

I love violent video games! Especially Resident Evil, a very popular game made by Capcom which has come out with multiple versions—and I have played every one.

Here’s what my friends say about Resident Evil:
Tom Chamian: "I like the graphics. I like the blood and gore."

Patrick Cashin: "It has an excellent story line backed up by great graphics. The gore and violence is all part of what makes the game great."

Nick Costa: "My mom banned me from playing Resident Evil right after the second one came out."

I asked Nick’s mom why she banned him from playing Resident Evil. "It’s not a very good use of the human brain. It is also not very creative," says Gail Costa, an elementary school teacher. "I think that it over stimulates, it’s not very productive, it’s a waste of time, and it doesn’t develop my son’s brain."

But I think that she is, with all due respect, wrong. Resident Evil forces you to think. Things pop out at you and you have to decide what to do immediately. You have to develop strategies to use the weapons effectively. For example, you have to mix your own gunpowder and each weapon has different requirements. You have to solve puzzles, such as how to find keys and open doors.

Playing Resident Evil is very much like being in a movie but it’s a movie that you can change. The ending will be different every time, depending on what you do. I think video games make you more creative than TV or movies because you can actually be part of the game.

Many people these days are also blaming violent video games for violence such as the shooting in Columbine, Colorado.

"According to the American Psychiatric Association, viewers of violence not only become desensitized and fearful, they begin to identify with an aggressive solution to their own personal problems," First Lady Hillary Clinton said in a speech. "What kind of values are we promoting when a child can walk into a store and find video games where you win based on how many people you can kill or how many places you can blow up?"

I would say I have killed more than 25,000 zombies in my years of playing Resident Evil. But this video game has made me more responsible and motivated me to work harder in school. Is that such a bad thing?

I don’t believe that video games are the cause of the Columbine shooting or any violent event. Sixty percent of all Americans that are 6 or older, or about 145 million people, play computer or video games, according to video game industry research. Nine percent of them, or 16 million, play shooting games such as Resident Evil which are rated "mature." Now, if every person who played violent video games became violent, then there would be a lot more high school shootings, murders and other violence.

Violence has been there throughout history. There was violence in WWI, there was violence in the Boston Massacre, there was violence everywhere. Even the Bible contains violence. So why are people saying that violence is caused by video games, which have only been around for a few decades?

"The evidence does not exist to support a link between playing violent video games and community mass murder. Video games don’t teach people to become Nazis," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Interactive Digital Software Association, a trade group for the video game industry.

Here are some reasons why people play video or computer games, according to industry statistics:

78.4% say that video games are challenging.
55.1% say video games relieve stress.
48.9% say that video games provide a lot of entertainment value for the money.
37.4% say that video games are a social activity people can enjoy with their friends.

Video games are challenging, they relieve stress, they entertain, and they’re a social activity—so what’s the big deal?