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What makes video games uniquely problematic to society?

There is a lot of debate about video games and their place in society. Some people think they especially wasteful, even compared to other forms of entertainment or hobbies. Others think they have the potential to do more for us than any other entertainment medium.

People commonly spend hours in front of the television (when today's youth reach 70, they will have spent 7 to 10 years watching television), escaping into fictional stories and watching masses of objectionable content that has the potential to negatively influence their outlooks, yet television *as a medium* isn't part of a public debate in the same way that video games are.

Chess and Go are elegant game systems that challenge their players; video games such as Civilization are less elegant and "pure", but they contain a bewildering variety of factors players must take into account when planning their next move, and a wider variety of goals and styles during play. Yet a child prodigy at chess is called a genius, whereas a child prodigy at Civilization is told they're wasting their time and ought to be doing their maths.

Video games are not considered fine art, but neither are Hollywood blockbusters or genre fiction. Yet despite this, and despite video games being the largest entertainment sector in North America, video games are rarely covered in major news outlets, unlike Hollywood blockbusters or genre fiction.

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All that said, my question is this: Video games clearly occupy a position in society that is perceived as being problematic. This cannot have to do with the time spent on games (television has similar issues), with the complexity or challenge of these games (some can be remarkably intellectually challenging), or with their quality as meaningful art (Hollywood blockbusters and genre fiction are often of the same quality).

Something else must be the cause. So, what makes video games, when compared to other comparable media/games/art forms, so much more problematic?

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  • Aug 7 2011: Stan Lee honestly said it best, the problem that games are facing or are being accused of (in other words ways to try to get rid of them) is nothing more than this generations series of crusades to blame something and talk about how vile it is. It's a new form of entertainment and all forms prior have endured the same process, most recent prior to games would be comic books. You can also read the Supreme Courts ruling on California's law to make selling games illegal (it was an unspecified type of game). There is no problem with them except that people enjoy making a problem out of them.
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    Aug 1 2011: I agree.
    Like drugs, game is a pseudo problem.
    It doesn't create problem but it provide OPPORTUNITY to create a sustainable problem.
    The problem is the human.

    Like drugs, games does noting but to feed on people who ALREADY HAVE problems.
    People who start blurring games and reality.
    People who are weak in discipline.
    People who are addicted to it.

    That's why like drugs, it has a place in our society.
    Should we banned it ? No.
    Should we let them create ANY kinds of game ?
    *lucifer's waiting smile*
    • Aug 1 2011: But what makes games more similar to drugs than to television, Monopoly, or sci-fi blockbusters? Why do they occupy a similar place to the former, rather than the latter?
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        Aug 1 2011: Says who ? Parents control the use of television... movies are known to be more powerful than just entertainment... monopoly is too specific to be considered "dangerous".
        • Aug 1 2011: But the level of public debate surrounding them is nowhere near as intense, and many people would contend that the power of movies can be used to good as well as ill. Monopoly was a stand-in for all board games, chosen because of its known, if caricatured, relationship to capitalism.