Isaac Clarke’s Beautiful Mind

Now, this is obviously an idea that Robert himself would choose to reject.” – Cobb, Inception

Classes will dull your mind, destroy the potential for authentic creativity.” – John Nash, A Beautiful Mind

The preceding idea to the 
Inception quote, for those of you who don’t know, is “I will split up my father’s empire.” Cobb quickly points out the flaw with trying to plant this idea into Robert’s head. It will never work. Robert would never have that idea on his own, and he would therefore reject it. It is, at this surface level, much too outlandish to even consider.

The concern of many of today’s parents regarding their children and video games is the mass violence being portrayed. “Call of Duty”, “Gears of War”, you name it. Shooters are the core of today’s video game media.

But should parents really be worried about this?

Presented as this violence is – on a large scale, sometimes exaggerated and outlandish – I feel that kids aren’t likely to be as influenced as one might think. The equipment necessary to repeat such acts is difficult to attain, and children have lived years of their lives likely not contemplating shooting someone else. Usually there is no preexisting motive to pursue this track of behavior.

Let’s look at 
A Beautiful Mind. This quote from John Nash, as portrayed by Russel Crowe, is, at its base, much more acceptable, feasible and attainable. Nash spends the first portion of the film skipping class and essentially failing college on the notion that he is a genius and will conceive an original idea.

A worthy endeavor? Sure, but lofty at that. Any child can look at this and say “Yes, I want to do this!” and it would be very easy (and in today’s ego-stroking society, very likely) for someone, often a parent, to say “Good for you!” But is that really a great idea? How many John Nash’s are actually out there versus how many people will fail out of college if they attempt something like this?

What is your child more likely to do? Primed to believe he or she is capable of anything and certainly not primed to be a killing machine, not to mention being much more capable of skipping class than toting an automatic weapon, I believe that a child is, arguably, more likely to follow John Nash than any protagonist of a violent video game.

Additionally, look at the difficulty facing someone looking to place themselves in the shoes of one of these figures. “Call of Duty” places the player in the role of a soldier, “Dead Space” puts the player on an abandoned space ship fighting hoards of aliens, and other games include similarly specific roles. Additionally, these characters are many times flawed and broken – certainly not role models. On the other hand, John Nash is your (relatively) average college student/fledgling genius.

This point can be further backed up with the point that, in a video game, when the gun is placed in the hand of a torn civilian, an average person in an exceptional situation, the kill suddenly becomes much more meaningful. Quantic Dream’s “Heavy Rain” puts the player in the shoes of Ethan Mars who is led to the house of a shady man that he must kill. The man begins firing on the player, and when he has run out of shots, the player puts a gun to the man’s head as he goes to his knees and begins begging for mercy, talking about his family, no longer a threat. The kill becomes an emotional roller coaster, even though it’s “just a video game.” I, personally, left without shooting the man.

Video games do not minimize violence any more than books or films, giving people a chance to spend some time in another person’s shoes. Someone who has trouble differentiating between fiction and reality is having psychological problems beyond video games.

Am I really suggesting that 
A Beautiful Mind will convince your child to skip class? No. It’s a metaphor at best. But I do argue that relation between violence and video games is a severely exaggerated.

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