1 November 2013, 13:43

Computer games: fight for the historic truth

Computer games: fight for the historic truth

Love for computer games lowers the threshold of pain and breeds indifference to the people around you. The results of a joint study between German and Australian scientists have confirmed that one should not take virtual reality lightly, as with active gamers it increasingly intrudes in their real lives outside the virtual world. The obtained results are even more worrisome as computer games have turned from innocent leisure into a powerful propaganda weapon.

We no longer doubt the threat of excessive absorption by virtual reality. Physicians who try to come up with various methods of treating computer dependence confirm its effect on the human psyche. It also leads to bursts of unmotivated violence in various countries. In the USA some school pupil or college student occasionally tries to bring order with the methods he learned from some shooter game. Things are not any better in Europe: one can recall the Norwegian killer Breivik whose favorite shooter game, Modern Warfare 2, became a virtual training simulator for him.

Over the last decades the entertainment industry has succeeded in seriously decreasing the threshold of emotional sensitivity of its viewers. If in the past the sight of blood or a mockup of a cut-off limb on the cinema screen brought viewers into a state of shock, today dismembered bodies on TV for many people is just another reason to laugh. That is as far as cinema goes. But no film can create such a feeling of presence and involvement in the process as computer games. The longer you play the more you become one with your avatar character. In the end it is no longer some American seal Smith, but you personally who chops somebody up, shoots and blows something up, says Svetlana Uspenskaya, an expert at the Moscow Psychological Aid Service.

“When a person plays computer games, especially a child, he gets fully absorbed by that idea. The virtual space becomes a part of his internal space. If we introduce an element of patriotism in this game, it is one thing, but if we introduce the propaganda of violence and cruelty to people, it is something else. When a teenager plays for a long time, he stops differentiating his life from the virtual reality; for him they merge. There have already been cases when a person transfers such a game to his real life, starts using the same methods to fight against people around him, with his enemies”.

Researchers Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan studies what happened when people started associating themselves with their avatar characters, which had such characteristics as cruelty and a lack of emotions. They have found out that such “absorbed” gamers have a lowered threshold of pain that they experience themselves and the pain that people around them feel. They transfer the principles of their avatar character to their real life.

The “shooters” are also a propaganda weapon among young people. More and more “masterpieces” appear created by the leading game producers, which present modern Russia as well as the Red Army of the WWII period in a negative light. One can recall the famous game Battlefield: Bad Company. Nevertheless, experts involved in the game production industry see no threat in that. In Russia a lot fewer games are produced, says Andrey Mikhailyuk, executive director of the GURU Corporation involved in game production. “It concerns not only games, but also films and books. Historically, since the times of the Cold War the main enemy of the USA was the USSR, and then later Russia. Consequently, all novels of those times portrayed a Russian character or Russia as the antagonist. Actually, the industry on our side looked exactly the same. There were many films made about American spies and the ‘bad’ America. Now we find ourselves in a situation when the Russian game production industry is unfortunately not in great shape. There are a lot fewer games made in Russia than in the USA”.

In general, that point of view is questionable. Despite the fact that there are fewer Russian made films, there is no domination of films about “bad Americans”. So, why are Russians always portrayed as the enemies in computer games, most of which are made in the USA? Tim Kerby, an American journalist living in Russia, collected the opinions of some residents of that “anchor of democracy”.

“Some people believe that it is some sort of inertia of the 50-year-long anti-Soviet propaganda. Because if something continues for a long time, often we forget why we did that in the first place. The second issue is competition. Russia is a real competitor. Arabs and Iran aren't a strong competitor to America. And Russia and China imply a real war against people who can fight. It is a compliment for the Russians. The third issue could upset you, but I heard it from a number of Americans. They believe that it is moral to kill Russians, despite the fact that it is immoral to kill other people”.

Nevertheless, Poland starts to appreciate the capabilities of video games in terms of their effect on young minds. Experts were especially impressed by the popularity of the latest Canadian product called Company of Heroes 2, which naturally showed the “atrocities of the Red Army” during WWII. According to the Polish specialists, local production of computer games supported by the state could become the most effective method of propaganda of “Poland's historic policy in the East”.

The Company of Heroes mentioned above was banned in the CIS. But one cannot win a war by only defending himself. As in the near future the world has no intention to give up video games, as well as smoking, for example, - it is probably time to introduce a high quality Russian game to make gamers happy.

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