Games children play
Virtual violence in the garb of games is affecting the behavioural pattern of young children.
REAL RUN: Children are hooked on to the blood and gore of video games.
Mama Teng is worried. "How can he do that," she says about her 10-year old son. Do what?
"Pull the legs," she says hysterically. Now what's wrong in that?
"This is what is wrong," she explains with feigned patience, while she adds angrily, "he pulls apart the legs of insects, cockroaches and houseflies, when they are alive, tears their wings and burns them alive in candle flame. All the while he watches them writhe in pain." This is not the end of it. "He seems to enjoy that," she sobs as she says.
This is what young Teng has to say: "Mario does that to the bad guys, so why can't I?" Who's Mario? "Mario - the invincible, is his hero," says his hassled mother. Further conversation revealed that this `Mario - the invincible' is the lead protagonist of Teng's favourite computer game, which his father had purchased for him December last.
"My best game so far," says the sixth standard student, - now recovering from injuries inflicted out of what he calls, "poking-fun", where he hurt himself badly, - while he and his friend - Snehal, were engaged in a pencil fight in school recently.
The idea of the `demonic' play-fight must have been once more, an inspired idea from Mario who nails his victims alive.
IT'S ALL in the game. Blood, gore and death. The one who kills wins. The more you shoot, the more you boot. A solid 110, to run over a biker in that flashy red Ferrari, 50 points if you drive over the burly cop on the road, who tries to stop you for over-speeding. You can choose the kind of death for your worst enemy - the `Daniel Pearl' style by `blading' him alive or the `Taliban stye', by electrocuting the private parts. Points are awarded on how much time you take to `accomplish the mission'. All this and many more such mindless acts of violence rule the virtual world in the garb of games.
This is causing great concern and worry for parents and teachers as more and more computer-friendly children are getting hooked on the bait of these computer games, which teach no more than violence. "We are worried that the virtual violence will take a toll in the real run for these youngsters," says Malathi Padma, a senior teacher in a public school.
The situation is alarming as effects are already showing in the form of Teng and others. The violence is stepping out of the screen to get translated into a way of life for these impressionable minds.
"It has developed into an addiction in Bunty. Initially, I was proud of him and used to boast about his computer skills and his knowledge about Internet games to my neighbours," says Sutapa, Bunty's mother. "But I was wrong," she regrets. Parental indulgence has turned the 11-year old youngster into a hostile and aggressive child, with complaints from teachers every other day about his despicable behaviour in school.
Thanks, Bloodbath, Big Bang, Half Life, Quake, Star trek deep, Space and the fallen, Tomb raider 3, Tread Mark and Zelda Classic, for letting loose a hell of a game.
"Children in the age group of nine to 15 are the prime targets. And that is the age when the `Superman phenomenon' - an abnormality strikes, when the young mind learns a lot very fast, and gets stimulated by people or characters that seem to inspire him," says clinical psychologist Rama Devi. Remember the Shaktiman wave?
Constant exposure to blood and death through these games is bound to result in changes in the behavioural pattern of those who play such games, she cautions. Changes may range from hostile and aggressive deeds, delinquency to violent behaviour and even suicidal tendencies.
"Who cares? I like playing those games," says Bhavan's student Sahityadeep, a computer-game freak. "Young children like playing such games particularly because it gives them a sense of accomplishment as they score points and win by killing the baddies. The theme is predominantly aggression, be it the anti hero image or the gun culture," says Dr. Jagdish Khare, explaining the reasons for the mass addiction for such games.
Cashing in on this, Internet parlours in residential areas around town lure children with their favourite games. `Scorpio's Nest' - in West Marredpally, nets youngsters by getting them hooked on to these games even as many queue up outside the shop after school, for their turn to `boot the loot'. The scene is just as bad at other kiosks. Weekends bring brisk business for them. Says Srinivas, a Internet café in-charge, "Children just get themselves entertained for an hour or two. So, what is wrong in that?"
Here is what is wrong: "Constant exposure to these violent games, will only promote a sub culture of violence as the young minds. Over a period of time these children often fail to distinguish between the virtual and the real. And then starts the doom when these youngsters begin to emulate the animated characters on the screen," warns Dr. Khare.
Parents, take note of that, before the imprint is made on the impressionable mind.
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