All throughout college, I suffered from debilitating writer’s block. The best solution I found was taking a little trip to San Andreas. Rather than initiate any of the story missions, I’d tool through the country side surrounding Leafy Hollow, blasting “Young Turks” from my junky sedan with no particular destination in mind. It beat the hell out of pounding my head against the wall, plus it relaxed me and helped organize my thoughts, propelling many a piss-poor term paper from unacceptable well into the low B’s.
Above: The unsung splendor of GTA's Heartland
Of all the behavioral studies done, the only children who were shown to be more violent as a result of playing video games, were the ones to show preexisting neuroses and aggressive tendencies. Fed up with hyperbole and inconclusive data, Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson embarked on a more definitive study, with the help of 1,200 middle school-aged children across two states, and backed by something called Harvard Medical School. The result was a book entitledGrand Theft Childhood, and in addition to dispelling numerous myths permeating the landscape. Says the book: “[Kids] aren't out to hurt each other, but to establish dominance and a social pecking order.”
Amongseveralsurprising facts (Grand Theft Auto is the second most-played game by 14-year-old girls, just behind The Sims!) were the positive effects games have on adolescent social interaction. As youth-based athletics grow increasingly nerfed and scoreless, games maintain with a consistently positive level of competition and short term goals. Possibly due to the once removed nature of play (“I’m not a loser, Mario/Kratos/Master Chief is.”) gamesserve a much more vital role in modern day youth,helping forge healthyrelationships that can even transcend peer groups. Take that, Pogs!
Not so Grim Reality
The only kids who were even remotely at risk of committing a violent act following a session of GTA were the one who alreadyexhibitaggressive tendencies. And even the ones who are prone to violent behavior can still experience a therapeutic calming by channeling their aggression in a place like Liberty City. Or would you prefer the schoolyard?