Business, Economics and Jobs

Are video games heralding the demise of a generation of men?


Attendees play video games at Microsoft's Xbox 360 display at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 13 and is expected to feature 2,700 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 140,000 attendees.


David Becker

In an editorial for CNN, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University, and artist and psychologist Nikita Duncan argue that an overuse of video games is heralding the “demise of guys” as men sacrifice meaningful relationships to spend hours playing video games.

Zimbardo and Duncan also argue that the pervasiveness of online pornography, just like video games, creates an addiction to arousal as young men sacrifice their work, studies, and relationships “in the pursuit of getting a tech based buzz."

“The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment,” reads the piece.

For Zimbardo and Duncan, most problematic for lovers of porn and video games (good God, there are people who like porn AND video games? Terrifying.) are left totally out of sync in romantic relationships due to an inability to build these relationships slow and gradually. 

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However, unmentioned by Zimbardo and Duncan, is the relatively large female video game following in all types of games. There are all female professional gaming teams as well as World of Warcraft guilds just for women. Shockingly, a man and a woman that share an interest in gaming often find themselves in romantic relationships, sharing their love for video games and spending quality time together playing. 

And Mr. Zimbardo and Ms. Duncan may be shocked to realize that people in romantic relationships may watch porn together as well. 

Throughout modern American history, similar arguments have been made against smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, and masturbation — in the worst cases “experts” have stated that drinking liquor or masturbating could drive a person to insanity. Perhaps the most famous example is the 1936 film “Reefer Madness” that depicts high school students wracked by murder, suicide, rape, and insanity after smoking marijuana. 


In a similar fashion, Zimbardo and Duncan draw parallels between the average gamer and Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik who mentioned playing World of Warcraft and Call of Duty for several hours a day in his trial last month. They also cites the case of Seungseob Lee, a South Korean man who went into cardiac arrest after playing Starcraft for nearly 50 hours straight. However, left out by Zimbardo are Koreans like Moon “MMA” Sung Won and Young Ho Lee “Flash,” professional Starcraft players that have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money and endorsements playing the game professionally. 

More fromt GlobalPost: Video games provide safe haven in countries wracked by violence

Recently, MMA won over nearly $200,000 after a stunning seven-game championship series at the Global Starcraft II League final, cheered on by friends and family with his parents sitting in the front row, proud enough to burst. How horrible is that?

Just like drinking alcohol, playing video games in excess may affect one’s personal life in a negative way. However, just like drinking alcohol, playing video games can be a social, entertaining pursuit enjoyed by spouses, significant others, and friends. 

Far from “guy disaster mode,” gaming is a modern extension of social activity. Unique to this specific community, gaming creates a body of experiences that are shared by populations across the globe, from Seoul to Riyadh, and global gamers share and enjoy that connection on a regular basis. 

In fact, on a Sunday afternoon, they may meet people who become life-long friends in World of Warcraft, mow their lawn, put their kids to bed, kiss their spouses goodnight, and then go to work the next morning. 

Is it that hard to conceptualize?

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