Baha'i stance on video games?

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Zazaban
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Baha'i stance on video games?

Postby Zazaban » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:01 am

Could someone give me a run though? I'm a fan of video games, not things like halo or GTA, but things like civilization or mario.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:07 am

Asked whether the Bahá’í prohibition of gambling applies to game of every description, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:—
No, some games are innocent, and if pursued for pastime there is no harm. But there is danger that pastime may degenerate into waste of time. Waste of time is not acceptable in the Cause of God. But recreation which may improve the bodily powers, as exercise, is desirable.—A Heavenly Vista, p. 9.

(cited in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era)


It seems as in all things, moderation is desirable.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:24 pm

so don't play Quake until 4 a.m... :twisted:

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Postby Hasan » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:48 am

LOL. Nice topic....

I think we could learn much more playing games than studying!!! However, games are of secondary importance… if games like Age of Empires or others were stricter and detailed in history (or whatever culture or science they impart), it will be a funny way to learn. We have also reason games such as Zokoban, Push Over or Chess, ability games, etc.... I agree with Brett, moderation is required.

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Postby brettz9 » Wed Aug 09, 2006 6:08 am

Yeah, I think games could also be made more educational, yet also enjoyable...

For example, you could have animal games where you have to learn all of the habits of that animal, ecosystem, etc. But not in a boring 1950's memorize-all-these-facts way of course. E.g., ala Gauntlet-style, "Leopard needs food badly..." you could be prompted to learn the habits of your given animal. These could be 3d, strategy, or whatever...Even bees, ants, weather patterns, etc. It seems people are instead content to have the same first-person gruesome shoot-em-up...How strange...What happened to the creativity of the early years of video games?

Also, some of the skills used in making video games might be used for other purposes...For example, it would be great to see more examples of 3-D desktops--e.g., 3-d file cabinets that you can "pull out" for your files, or characters and images you can paste alongside your files, etc. There was one experimental 3d desktop for the Mac a while back (not sure if it's still around or not), but it is strange to me that the functionality we all have to use (the desktop) has not been played around with more (in a serious way).

take care,
Brett

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Wed Aug 09, 2006 10:09 am

Hasan wrote:LOL. Nice topic....

I think we could learn much more playing games than studying!!! However, games are of secondary importance… if games like Age of Empires or others were stricter and detailed in history (or whatever culture or science they impart), it will be a funny way to learn. We have also reason games such as Zokoban, Push Over or Chess, ability games, etc.... I agree with Brett, moderation is required.
I know what you mean. now with what the wii has people could learn how to play the drums or baseball or something playing video games! :D
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.

~ Bahá'u'lláh

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:19 pm

There is a difference I would think between an educational game and a non-educational game. However, there is a debate as to whether the non-educational game can provide benefits of its own. (E.g. "Video Games Boost Visual Skills, Study Finds" <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0528_030528_videogames.html>.) I don't know how much you could learn in a WWII "shoot-'em-up action video game." In retrospect it could be considered just frivolous activity, unless you make the argument that it's educational and not morally wrong....hmmm....

But something like chess, that's a thinking game. I have been playing chess since I was about five, and I truly think it complemented my studying. What I mean is, a real chess game that involves trying to anticipate your opponents worst move, and trying to counter it, etc., not just moving the rook pawn up for the first move, then moving the rook up, etc. There is not enough time at least for some of us to study many games in deph like the pros, but you don't necessarily need to to get good at the game.

For kids, for example, another good game I think it Monopoly because it's a fun family game and also gets them to start thinking doing some basic math in their heads. (That's a computer game now too I believe.)

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Postby Zazaban » Wed Aug 09, 2006 6:39 pm

I've been playing videos games for years and I have incredible hard eye co-ordanation and hyperactive hands.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.

~ Bahá'u'lláh

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:08 am

All the people claiming violent video games or media don't have any effect on behavior (some of whom probably hold stocks in companies that advertise--advertising depends on its ability to subtly or not-to-subtly shape behavior through media) might want to read this article on violent Video games. The fact is, we are not gods (even adults) who are impervious to influences around us--no matter how strongly or glibly we insist to the contrary. We physiologically can become sensitized to these things (though admittedly we have some control over our moral response).

The explosion of communications in this century has unleashed a multi-billion dollar violence industry of films, television programmes, magazines and music, which glorify violence. They perpetuate the misperception that domestic violence is provoked, even desired by its victims. Media messages that glorify war or social violence as natural expressions of male potency and reinforce the image of women as helpless and available objects of male sexual drives need to be stopped.

(Bahá'í International Community, Creating Violence-Free Families, http://www.bic-un.bahai.org/94-0526.htm , bolding added)



The Declaration and Programme of Action are the two major documents produced by the World Summit for Social Development. The following is a summary of those two documents with excerpts prepared by the Bahá'í International Community Office of the Environment and distributed to Bahá'í communities throughout the world.
...
16 d). "Encouraging education systems and ... communication media to raise people's understanding and awareness of all aspects of social integration, including gender sensitivity, non-violence, tolerance and solidarity and respect for the diversity of cultures and interests, and to discourage the exhibition of pornography and the gratuitous depiction of explicit violence and cruelty in the media...

(Bahá'í International Community, http://www.bic-un.bahai.org/95-0317.htm , bolding added)


And on a related note, but dealing with sensitization to actual violence:
One of the considerations that long held back President Woodrow Wilson from proposing to the United States Congress the declaration of war that had by then become virtually inescapable was his awareness of the moral damage that would ensue. Not the least of the distinctions that characterized this extraordinary man — a statesman whose vision both 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi have praised — was his understanding of the brutalization of human nature that would be the worst legacy of the tragedy that was by then engulfing Europe, a legacy beyond human capacity to reverse.

(Century of Light, p. 32)

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:27 am

And though violent games may have the side-effect of improving hand-eye coordination, I think the following from the Qur'án may be instructive:

They will ask thee concerning wine and lots: Answer, In both there is great sin, and also some things of use unto men; but their sinfulness is greater than their use.
(Qur'án 2:219)


(Note: Muhammad later clearly forbade alcohol entirely: Qur'án 5:89)

Sale's notes (which Shoghi Effendi recommended at the time for helping Western believers understand the context of the original verses) state regarding the word "lots" in the above verse:
The original word, al Meiser, properly signifies a particular game performed with arrows, and much in use with the pagan Arabs. But by lots we are here to understand all games whatsoever, which are subject to chance or hazard, as dice, cards, &c.2


Of course, this was for a different Dispensation than now (and I'm not sure Sale's conclusion is necessarily 100%), but it is interesting...

best wishes,
Brett

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:23 am

Thats interesting, because i've seen studies that have shown that violent games actually stop people from doing crime because they can do it in the game and not in real life, but I don't really think it affects you unless there's already something wrong, because the crime rate has been going steadily DOWN since 1995, and if video games are creating crime then it should be going UP.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.

~ Bahá'u'lláh

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:53 am

If it was really a study (and not just somebody's theorizing), was it funded by the video games industry? ;)

The study article I linked to, if scientific as it must have been, would randomize results, making it practically impossible that they just happened to find all the mentally unstable people out there to show positive results in their studies. Just because we think we are immune (e.g., from advertisements) doesn't mean we actually are. We have to pay very close attention to ourselves to notice such things, I think (if we can even do that). I recently saw a graphic bit of violence (it seemed it must be ok, so I kept looking to see it get better, but it didn't) and I can tell you that I felt disturbed by it (and I'm glad I was, but still). The question is why do we want to get accustomed to finding fun out of gruesome violence, even pretend?

And as far as crime going down, where is that statistic from? Even if it were true, violent video games are far from being the only variable since that time.

I think there is also a great difference between a game where you're shooting like Space Invaders vs. a graphic, realistic, human-centric 3rd person gory game.

take care,
Brett

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Aug 10, 2006 1:51 pm

Brett: you are truly the master at locating relevant quotes for Baha'i discussions, keep up the great work.

This topic kind of reminds me of the rock-n-roll debate. Supposedly somewhere Shoghi Effendi predicts/refers to rock music and says something like the music (the beat) is going back to primitive times...of course I only heard this from some Persian Baha'is so it's only hearsay...

Anyway about the games...great quote again. For instance: sure wine has some antioxidants in it but the fact that it kills your neurons (and spiritual brain cells if you will), and the negative effects it can have on your heart doesn't make it worth drinking. Many studies, and much of the sciences today, have become corrupt and perverted—we have to understand that. Anything that's "politically correct" will be backed up by science, then the fad eventually dies and we find out it was wrong all along.

Even if crime is going down a bit, it's all correlational and not causational (as Brett pointed out) of any one particular thing. The real reason I think crime is high is not because of violent video games, however they can be a part of the picture and I'll explain below. Crime has gone up in part because of the single parent family phenomenon, broken families, etc. Again not a politically correct thing to say, but you see they are ignoring a wealth of studies saying that a child, for optimum emotional development, needs both his mother and his father, or else he will be adversely affected for the rest of his life. It is the perversion of fields like psychology that only look at a few biased studies that will advance their own interests that are the cause of this regression.

So if you are a kid and you don't have a father, and your mother is abusive and always has boyfriends in the house, and kids beat you up at school...and you watch something like Natural Born Killers (which glorifies violence 110% despite what the director might want you to think) and play "Grand Theft Auto" or whatever, then surely you will be influenced much stronger by the messages of the media because you were not born with a proper spiritual upbringing so...who/what do you turn to? You have no standards to weigh these messages by. Now we would predict that a child born into a proper Baha'i family who plays violent video games would be influenced to a much lesser extent because he knows right from wrong (or at least has a much deeper understanding), which pales in comparison to the child from the broken family.

Now something like space invaders, since you (Brett) brought it up. You are killing aliens from outer space, and in DOOM and Quake you are doing the same thing except it is from a first person perspective and you have a gun in your hand. In both cases you are encouraged to destroy, but in the second case it is much more graphic. Compare these games to the like of "Grand theft auto," which combine the violence with explicit sexual content, glorifies drugs, gambling, street violence, etc. So there are, as you point out, degrees of course. "Grand Theft Auto" and the like should never be given to children! They (children) are much easier swayed by the messages than adults since adults have formed a more permanent identity and are have a more mature understanding of reality.

Now...is it good to play violent games because of supposed coordination-linked benefits? It's the same concept as the wine. Does the good outweigh the bad? Another way: are there more constructive/legitimate ways of improving such coordination?

It is really hard to get away from violence in our culture but it's all over the place and I think we should meditate on the Writings and use the best of our judgment. Like, for example, say you are into martial arts, which is by all means a healthy and constructive thing to do. The whole culture revolves around certain things like martial arts movie. To me, martial arts violence (i.e. Bruce Lee) if of a different type than the violence seen in the movie "Natural Born Killers" because the latter is just trying to disturb the viewer with all the senseless gore and a meaningless and repugnant plot as opposed to a martial arts film that at least has a decent and interesting plot. And a martial artist might watch it as "inspiration," as a body builder might watch "Pumping Iron" for inspiration to work out. The only inspiration that can be derived from “Natural...” is a morbid one that perhaps only serial killers will profit from.

I'm not trying to promote anything here, or do the opposite, however, just trying to see from the point of view of both sides. Certainly we should try to as much as possible to avoid movies with senseless grisly/wanton violence, especially combined with a glorification of sex (as one of the B.I.C. quotes referred to).

One last thing: We would be denying the obvious to say that the media has absolutely no influence on the way we behave. Look at college or high school girls, look at how promiscuously they dress. Was this sort of thing seen in the 50s? Some public television station had an interview with Britney Spears, and she might as well not have worn a shirt as she was revealing everything! and you can't use the word "whore" (sorry for using an emotionally charged word) because it's such an accepted thing these days for women to dress like this. So the media is certainly to blame. For example one of the quotes Brett provided was referring to the media "reinforc[ing] the image of women as helpless and available objects of male sexual drives need to be stopped." Also, if I could add to that, women making themselves look like "helpless and available...etc." in everyday life should stop. So it's really a two-way thing I think. You can say the violence is making them do it, or you could put it the other way around but the media is a big problem in this regard.

I just listed some random thoughts and I’d like any input. Some of it though might come across as different (in a bad way) but I’m not trying to offend anyone here, just trying to throw out some ideas. I think this is a good topic and also an important on, especially for Baha’i youth.

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Postby Zazaban » Thu Aug 10, 2006 2:09 pm

actually, thats kinda what I meant with "something wrong" not a mental disease, but having a difficult time telling right from wrong. Also, most of the games I own are non-violent like mario or simply like an interactive fairy tale such as zelda or the fightings for a good cause. or it's a MMORPG. or perhaps it's just RP something i would never be in real life.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.

~ Bahá'u'lláh

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Postby Hasan » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:54 pm

video games are another product of society, as tv, cinema, radio, etc., most of them are filled with violence. It is like literature, some say it should be just a mimesis, others says it should teach and moralize…. in the end all is relative; I think there should be amusement and education, or both, but not just one of them, and violence should be avoided.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:56 pm

tawna wrote:I am a female that loves playing video games. I was told that this is rare. Women gamers are a minority. Why aren't there more female gamers? I hear that many females get turned-off by the violence depicted in video games. Really? So if game developers make more non-violent games, would the market grow to include more of the female demographic? Why don't they do that? Game developers fear taking chances, lest they alienate currently existing gamers. Game developers make sequel after sequel because they trust that gamers that bought an earlier game in a series would buy the sequel. They believe in the notion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

At least Nintendo is willing to take risks and create new kinds of games. Have you all tried Brain Age? It's a game designed to exercise the brain. Playing it improves people's memory, concentration, and thinking. Now that's a game worth playing.


What about games like the Sims? That seems like a game that females are really into. Shooters are popular, but for every shooter there's a flight simulator, RPG, mario-clone 2d, sports game, puzzle game, and even games where you can feed a dog, keep him alive, etc. In fact, if you go to http://www.macgamefiles.com, you will see that, even though the top download is "Quake 4," the next popular download is "Virtual Villagers" and this is the type of game that might appeal to women. Also "The Sims" is in the top 10 too.

But the reason why men are more into violent games than women can be easily explained: men are by nature more aggressive than women. And hormones play a huge part: men have more testosterone than women; just as men produce much less estrogen than women do. (Also culture plays a role.) In a psychology course I took the professor referred to a study with a large N that showed that greater than 90% of the men in the study had violent fantasies (i.e. blowing things up). Tomboys are more interested in the rough-and-tumble stuff for the same reason (perhaps not to such a high degree though).

By the way—in case it sounds like it—I am not saying this is a good thing and the Writings say that in the future will be more 'female', I guess that's one way of putting it.

By the way...Tawna...is that necessarily a bad thing, that there aren't "more female gamers"? Maybe there are things that women enjoy doing more than men, and vice versa. For example, (most) men don't like to go shopping for stuff like clothes, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, and I wouldn't see any reason for changing this. To each his own I think. (However, you might have some different opinions so if you do I would be interested in hearing them.)

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Postby Zazaban » Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:58 pm

Well I personally like nintendo. Mario games mostly.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.

~ Bahá'u'lláh

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:05 pm

Zazaban wrote:Well I personally like nintendo. Mario games mostly.


Zazaban, there is nothing harmful in playing some games if that's your way of "relaxing," especially after, say, a hard day of studying. Others might prefer hitting the gym and pumping some iron ( 8) ), while others might have some other hobby, so there is nothing wrong or immoral in playing Mario games if that's your thing. But since the Writings discourage too much frivolous activity, it might be best to limit how much you play. That's what I would get from the Writings, anyway.

(Also the Writings say that if we have the nicest things in the world, big house, lots of material things, etc., as long as it doesn't get inbetween us and our devotion to God then it is harmless—but I don't know how relevant that quote is to this discussion...)

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:40 pm

Well during the time I have off, I usuallyspend most of my time on the computer, Mainly wikipedia. I love studying and learning. it's like an addicting. sooo interesting. I mainly play video games right before I go to bed.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.

~ Bahá'u'lláh


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