Opinion: Video games teach life lessons

By Steve Kline

Finally, I have proof. Irrefutable, irreversible and excessively fun proof that gory video games prevent violence. Now, all I need is a trip to Washington to lobby for more wanton violence in games and less crap like X-Box’s Fable, which could lead to a depraved generation.

In Santa Fe, Texas, a grandmother was watching her three grandsons when a group of burglars broke into her home and pointed a gun at the four of them. Luckily, her grandsons were playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas with the volume turned way up.

The robbers mistook the digital police characters’ voices as the real police. “We have the place surrounded!” They fled, stealing nothing and shooting no one.

The family survived a traumatizing ordeal, so we feel obligated to tip our hats to them. I do more than tip my hat – I wish to nominate this family as the coolest four people in the galaxy. Not only did grandma let her grandkids own GTA, but she actually watched them play – volume cranked up. That is just above and beyond the call of a with-it grandma.

Also, if the robbers fled after hearing the game’s police, this means the kids didn’t pause the game when a group of burglars held them at gunpoint! That’s hardcore. This situation could have been a lot more tragic if the robbers brought snacks.

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I’ve said this for years, though: Violent video games do not cause violence. They prevent it.

It’s been a tough day at school – Moe the bully stole your lunch money or the college of communications stole your credit rating – whichever. Can you really vent after popping in Mr. Happy’s Morality Mission? Hell no.

This is a debate that we’ve heard before a billion times, so I’m not going to go off on another “Violence was around before Mortal Kombat rant.” I’m going to take it a step further. Not only do video games prevent violence, but they give us life lessons which we carry throughout adulthood. Each is unique in the lesson it provides. For example:

Mortal Kombat – The harder you work to get something banned, the more people want it.

Superman (N64) – In the wrong setting, even the mightiest man in the universe is a complete putz.

BurgerTime – You have no idea what people making your burger go through. There’s some dangerous stuff back there.

A Boy and His Blob: Trouble in Blobonia – Most things are just as asinine as they sound.

Super Smash Brothers – Let someone cool down and drop his sledgehammer before confronting him.

Contra – If you let your teammate fall behind, you, too, will probably fall into a pit.

Earthworm Jim – To truly beat your opponents, you have to use your head.

The Final Fantasy series – When people say something is final, they mean final unless otherwise profitable.

Castlevania – It doesn’t matter how far you get; sometimes you can’t continue where you screwed up.

Super Mario Bros. – Oh man, I’m sorry but I’ve just got to do this one-liner: The princess is always in the last place you look.

Okay, take a deep breath and count to 10. I beg for your forgiveness.

Super Mario Bros. 3 – You and a partner might be working toward a common goal. If he tries to go after you and steal whatever cards you hold, show no mercy.

Where would I learn such lessons, other than from expensive hand-eye-coordination-strengthening machines? Nowhere.

Crank the volume, plug in the controllers and watch with your kids. Like a Sesame Street episode about the Heimlich Manuever, it’s fun, it’s educational and it just might save your life.