Violence and video games

Sep 2007: The debate around video games and violence rears its head every few months. But are the right questions being asked?

Like most of the electrified world, I am currently hypnotised by Puzzle Quest.

A variation on the classic task of matching three gems, it integrates role playing game elements into a simple puzzle game, producing something that has all the short-order appeal of Tetris, and all the long-term pull of Final Fantasy.

And hypnotised isn't a word I use lightly. The gentle clatter of gems and the steady whirl of primary colours soon become all-consuming.

It's not that it's hard to stop playing, it's that it's pointless. Just because my DS is closed and my eyes are back on my work doesn't mean that I don't see Puzzle Quest every time I blink.

Just because it's time for bed doesn't mean I'm not battling an Ogre Mage on the inside of my eyelids.

It's a phenomenon most gamers are familiar with. If you're spending a lot of time with a game, it becomes your mental screen-saver, popping up when your brain isn't occupied.

It's most obvious with visually simple, repetitive games like Puzzle Quest, but it can happen with anything.



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