Across Pacific Magazine

Video Games

I would stare intently into the screen, and grip the joystick with my right hand and franctically punch the red button with my left. If I could cleverly maneuver the big yellow circle around the maze so it swallowed enough dots and avoided those pesky ghosts, I could increase my score and move on to the next level.

As a kid playing Pac-Man on my Atari, I never could've imagined how cutting-edge technology would vastly improve video games through high-definition 3D graphics, sound effects, and movie-quality acting and editing. Now, instead of squinting at a small pixellated image on a screen, Play Stations, Nintendo Game Cubes, and X Boxes allow "gamers" to all but live out their favorite adventures—be it playing quarterback in the NFL, web-swinging through the city of New York as Spiderman, or solving puzzles and fighting off enemies as an ancient ninja—all from the comfort of their living room sofas.

But with improved technology comes an important question—with so many video games featuring "realistic-looking" violence, how does this affect real-life behavior, especially in children? Years of research on the effects of violent video games have been conducted, but debate exists over the relationship between game-playing and actual aggression. This week's feature article, "Deadening the Heart," delves further into this topic. Don't miss its insights and opinions below.

As parents, it's rewarding to take credit for the positive traits your kids glean from you, but disconcerting to see your children imitate your worst characteristics. Advice and encouragement for this tricky area of parenting is available in Christian Parenting Today's "Whose Child Is That?"—also featured below.

Whether or not you're a parent, faithful prayer is one of the best features of a life worth imitating. Please take a moment now, and continue joining us in prayer for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Thanks for reading this week.

Jill Meier
Newsletter Editor Connection e-mail:


Deadening the Heart
Killer video games are no 'safety valve'—quite the opposite.

Steve Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You, says violent video games are good for children. He thinks that video games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas may "function as a kind of safety valve—they let kids who would otherwise be doing violent things for the thrill of it, get out those kind of feelings sitting at home at a screen." Says Johnson: "This may have a deterrent effect on violence."

But the American Psychological Association thinks otherwise. Time spent playing violent video games "increases aggressive thoughts, aggressive behavior, and angry feelings among youth." Less than a week before the Ottawa Citizen reported Johnson's remarks, the professional society for psychologists acted on 20 years of research into the effects of violent video games. After a "special committee" reviewed more than 70 studies, the organization adopted a resolution calling for the "reduction of violence in interactive media used by children and adolescents."

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