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Violence, Guns, And Video Games

January 17, 2013

After the recent shootings, a lot of us are wondering what we can do to prevent future violence.  Most of the debate is centered around guns and violence in our culture.  I don’t have anything really important to say, and a lot of this is me rambling, mostly off topic, but if you’re interested, feel free to read my thoughts.

Have you ever seen a hardcore gamer playing first person shooters for four to eight hours a day, obsessing over their kill to death ratio, and just worry about humanity?

The worlds we create in video games are indicative to what’s inside our hearts.  Any way we choose to spend our time shows what’s important to us.  Think about it this way.  Those game designers could have made anything.  Of all the endless possibilities to create, we create war simulators, violent fighting games, and action thrillers.  But why are these sorts of games the best sellers?  Why are they so popular?

I hear news pundits blaming the game creators.  In a free market, game companies will make whatever games people want to play.  Ask yourself why people are buying and playing these violent gore fests for entertainment.  I think our brains are just wired up to enjoy violence.

You can say, “Hey, these violent games don’t hurt anybody and they let people live out their fantasies in an otherwise boring world.”  Eh’, I just wish people found much greater joy in creating works of art, designing architecture, or searching the depths of the cosmos for knowledge.  Why is it that people get joy out of blowing each other up over and over and over?

I’d like to say, “Why aren’t people studying chemistry, or designing new sources of energy, or making new apps for their computers?  It’s just such a waste of potential, sitting there zoning out, playing World of Warcraft, repetitively beating monsters over the head with a club, slowly gaining experience.”  But I know why this is.  Studying things mathematics and science are not always the most exciting things on Earth.  In a video game, you’re the center of attention, the epic music is playing in the background, and you’re saving the world from disaster.  They tap into primal urges from our evolutionary past.

Take World of Warcraft.  Those sorts of games transport a person back into the distant past.  Our ancestors lived most of their existence hunting and gathering, and that’s what you mostly do in those games.  You hunt things, mostly with primitive hand tools such as swords and clubs, and you take their animal hides back to town and sell them.  You have tribes, and you battle with one another.  You can see those ancient instincts manifest in the games people are playing.

We’re told that these games desensitize us to violence, but movies and even watching the news everyday is proven to do the same.  I think it’s how our brains are wired up, and you’re not going to get rid of it easily.  Even if you’re a concerned citizen, media sources have every incentive to always bring us violence, misfortune, and gore.   If it bleeds it leads.  There’s so much sensationalism.

People live in a very low state of awareness.  A low state of consciousness.  Their minds and thoughts revolve around very base things.  Sex, violence, and superstition.  I’d like people to see the world in a new light.  To see all the possibilities and strive to make this world free and beautiful.  If they felt like there was something they could do, something that gave them the same level of fulfillment and excitement, that’d be wonderful.

We certainly have to address violence issues and problems in our culture.  No doubt.  I’m just tired of hearing the same things over and over.  I just sometimes wish I could fly off to some colony where this stuff didn’t exist.  I want to talk about quantum mechanics, the mysteries of consciousness, or how to build intelligence into machines.  I don’t want to deal with how to get young people off their XBoxes and reading books.  It’d be great to live in a world where people are doing much more with themselves.

Maybe our school systems have failed?  There are so many wonderful and exciting things to research and build, and reality is stranger than fiction.  If that message could get through to them, I think they’d eventually learn that there are things far more interesting than video games.  But school is force fed to them for a decade or two, and after years and years of it, they don’t want anything to do with anything resembling it.  It’s sad.

It’s not about getting A’s on tests.  It’s not about getting into a university.  It’s not about getting a good paying job.  The real thrill of it is when you begin to deeply understand the issues and realize, “Hey, this stuff is talking about the deepest mysteries of the world I live in.  What am I?  Where am I?  How did I get here?  Where is this thing going?”  You let those thoughts start flowing through your head and you’re off on a riveting journey.

I wish young people would begin to contemplate the consequences of the technology we’re working on, and realize how revolutionary the changes will be.  I wish they’d realize how big of an impact they can have on the world if they’ll work on critical technologies such as nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, or biotechnology.  We can totally change the human condition.

I like to daydream about what the future could be, and the more I do, the more excited I am to research physics and engineering.  I think of the human race evolving into something much greater than it is now, and I try to imagine our progeny flying off to space to terraform distant planets.  I dream of lush gardens, beautiful buildings, and amazing futuristic technology.  Over and over, this same thought rumbles through my brain, “How do I help make that sort of world a reality?”

I dream of technology, I immerse myself in learning how it works, and I talk about it all the time to anyone who’s interested.   But I’m mostly alone in that regard.  All my parents talk about is religion.  The same goes for other more distant family members.  My brothers mostly talk about violent video games.  Recently, my older brother has been telling me about some game called Day Z (don’t know if I spelled that right), where you’re all placed on an island and you have to find food, weapons, and you hunt one another down.  Once you die, that character is gone and you have to start all over.  Apparently it’s a real thrill trying to stay alive, or killing another player and taking their stuff, mainly because it’s so hard to get things in that game.

It’s sad that of all the things we could do with our time, these violent and rather mindless video games are the things we find most appealing.  I wish we found those games boring and instead enjoyed our work.  But we didn’t evolve in the modern world, so our instincts aren’t wired up to find studying physics nearly as exciting.

Instead of bragging about their kill to death ratio, I wish young people dreamed of building glass gardens which extended up into the sky.

futuristic-city-in-the-sky-hrama-enpundit-13

I wish when I went out for walks, I saw my fellow men constructing monumental works of art to celebrate our existence.

Futuristic-City

Then I’d like to walk a long ways down the sidewalk, find myself off the main path and stumble onto this flower garden.

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I wish people’s minds were focused around building things, inventing things, and working together to make the world a better place.  It’s just sad that the human brain is wired up to be so competitive and violent.

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