The American debate about video game violence is a battlefield as vast and pocked as any you might find in a modern first-person shooter game. And up until last month, the trenches were mostly abandoned. Politicians on both sides of the aisle still used it as a favorite cudgel through the s and s, but as Dooms Day predictions about Grand Theft Auto-warped teens failed to come to fruition, many abandoned the issue.
This has Video games and violence both sides unexplored—for people that are interested in spiritual development. It is thus important to look at the phenomenon of video games from a spiritual perspective, because almost no one growing up today can avoid them. The time in which human beings could develop spiritually without the presence of modern technologies is essentially over, and video games are now deeply integrated into the fabric of modern society.
Their ubiquity means that human beings who wish to undertake spiritual development will often do so in contexts that are not devoid of video games. We can thus ask the question, how might video games impact spiritual development?
The perspectives put forth here are developed from an anthroposophical perspective, and thus I use the language of anthroposophy to some extent. Readers not familiar with this language can follow along with the main points but likely questions will arise with respect to the meaning of the terms such as astral and etheric body.
Additionally, some context for this post is laid out in another post, on Sleep, Dreams, and Video Gamesin which I explore the basic phenomenon of sleep in connection with video games and spiritual development.
The current post goes much deeper and more directly into the spiritual background of video games with respect to the makeup of the human being. The graphic at right is particularly interesting and highlights some areas addressed in this post. This is seen most directly seen in the way that games are designed to arouse particular endocrine responses through intense imagery sequences—and this is done in a very skillful way, utilizing a sort of one-two endocrine punch.
In the case of a video game none of this gross movement actually will occur, because you are basically just sitting in one spot.
Your ego has enough control over your body to keep it in front of the TV more on this laterbut not enough to keep it from releasing adrenaline, which up-regulates your heart rhythm, dilates your pupils, down-regulates your immune system and digestion, and increases oxygen and glucose absorption in the brain.
The ego is then left with the residue of this activity, given to it through the astral body as it rides on the back of these powerful etheric processes. And then comes the second punch: It is the timing of this one-two punch that is so powerful: In other words, the contrast between the activity of adrenaline and dopamine in the brain, when sequenced just so, yields a subjectively greater sense of the value of the reward than would otherwise occur; we overvalue the reward.
It is the rhythmic oscillation between these two sides of the endocrine response system that is problematic for spiritual development, because the rhythmic oscillation works in a way that could almost be described as ego-enslaving. The rhythm has power to it that the ego is not very capable of dealing with because of the etheric nature of this rhythmso it slides into the pattern and has a difficult time regaining its rightful place with respect to the astral body in particular, which is where the spiritual knot is in this case.
The ego is meant to develop so as to be the initiator and dissolver of astral activity, but because this activity gets linked to a rhythm in the etheric body, the ego loses its hold and gets swept up in the drama of the etheric body. It becomes more of a passive spectator and relinquishes its potential to be a creatively free with respect to the astral body.
To take it further, the important thing about video games is that all of this activity takes place through the linking of two very important phenomena, both significant when thinking about this question in the context of spiritual development: Let us look at images first.
Video games, imagery, the astral body and the ego The astral body is the symbolizing body. When thinking about spiritual development, the most important thing is to make sure that the images that the astral body encounters are spiritually nourishing. Without getting into too much detail, an image is spiritually nourishing when it can be penetrated by the ego, and when in so doing the ego can find something in the image that coherently connects it beyond itself to the parts of the universe that support the development of the human ego.
Yes, this definition has a circularity in it.
In other words, when an image becomes meaningful with respect to how the ego needs to bring itself forward for that particular individual, the image is nourishing. Such images are symbols, and can even become healing symbols when the ego uses them for spiritual development. Video games are largely devoid of exactly these kinds of images.
They are symbolically empty with respect to the development of the ego. The specific images that trigger the reward centers are almost invariably linked to the idea of advancement—but do not carry the reality of advancement.
This is played out differently in different styles of games, but is a near-universal feature of all games: All of the advancement that occurs in the context of the game stays within the game.
In other words, the rewards are spiritually vacuous, even while the physical, etheric and astral bodies undergo an experience as if there was some kind of advancement occurring or immanent. There is an important caveat to note, having to do with multiplayer games, particularly multiplayer games that require cooperative problem solving and communication for successful in-game advancement many MMOs are like this.
In this sort of game, even though the explicit in-game rewards and challenges are spiritually vacuous, the need for cooperation and communication with real human beings provides the ego with potential avenues for development. However, these are only the same avenues that are present in situations of normal everyday life when coordination with other human beings is required; the game does not add anything significant for potential ego development that is not already present in normal life.
In both cases, it is all too easy to ignore the potential paths that help develop the ego and simply repeat to ourselves and project on to others whatever stage of development we are already at. Fine motor control and the aesthetic sense Now on to fine motor control.Feb 12, · New research suggests violent games can stir hostile urges and aggressive behavior in the short term, but it is not clear whether the habit increases the likelihood of committing a violent crime.
Feb 22, · Trump and GOP lawmakers backed by the NRA are trying to shift the gun violence conversation to video games and movies. According to all . The suggestion that video games influence mass shooters has surfaced again. Both sides of the argument that early playing of violent video games are related to later criminal violence.
Discusses issue of violence in society with special emphasis on television violence. More than 40 years of debate and research has concluded that violent video games don't cause real-world violence, but President Donald Trump is forcing the issue.
Sep 04, · Fanboy Wars: The Newest eBook From Forbes The Fight For The Future Of Video Games is a warts-and-all look at the clashes between the video game business and its passionate fans.