Magic Circle: Good or Bad
The so-called "magic circle" is the phenomenon whereby the lines between the video game world and the "real world" are blurring or even disappearing in multiple ways. The question posed and to be answered in this report is whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing. As with most things, there is no single answer that is correct all of the time. While there is nothing wrong with a healthy escape at one point or another and while there are extremely healthy and fun outlets that can be realized and experienced in video games, too much of a good thing can always turn bad beyond a certain point.
As should already be clear from the thesis, there is nothing wrong with a life that involves video games, even if it is to a fairly heavy degree. However, there is a tipping point that anyone can surpass or exceed that shifts the healthy and normal to the excessive and personally damaging. Even so, having a strong connection between one's video games habits and one's regular life is not a bad thing as long as certain boundaries are not crossed. There are two reasons why the disappearing "magic circle" is not a big deal and is actually a good thing. One reason is that the social element of video games that used to be commonly non-existent due to people needing to be sitting in front of the machine is now basically gone now that games are designed in whole or in part to allow for (or even encourage or require) interactions with others while the game is in process or during a respite. Indeed, massive multi-player online game like World of Warcraft and Everquest are proof positive that there can be a very heavy force urging people to collaborate and work together socially and in an organization fashion as achieving the "best" parts of the game are not possible if this is not done. Even games that are solo in nature from a playing standpoint, as an option or the only way to play, allow for a social element including the winning of "trophies" and collaborating/sharing with others such as screen captures of gameplay and shared experiences.
Another way that video games blurring with regular life is that gaming can have a number of other benefits such as better physical fitness, better mental acuity and overall enjoyment during one's off-time from work or other requirements of life. Indeed, a friendly game of Madden between friends can lead to mutual enjoyment and competition. There are even tournaments where thousands of dollars are at stake that center around games like Madden and first-person shooter (FPS) games. In short, gaming can lead to increase involvement and avenues including competition, social exposure and outreach and a shrinking globe overall. An example of the latter are people from several different continents playing the same game at the same time. Gaming is not unlike Facebook in this regard and there is a heavy intersection between the two, with perhaps the most sterling example being games within Facebook. A person can create a virtual farm, just as one example, and other users can come in and help with the farm while the primary user is away.
However, there is a notably dark side to the lines between gaming life and real life becoming less visible if not non-existent. Just as with other pursuits and hobbies such as consumption of alcohol, gambling, competition and so forth, some people take things entirely too far and to entirely too much excess. This may sound far-fetched to some but it is most certainly not true. There are people that literally play the games entirely too much and/or take the games entirely too seriously. Another reason this blurring many not be healthy is that people get disconnected from reality and end up engaging in real-world behaviors that would never be acceptable or moral in real life. People online commonly trade verbal jabs and talk trash but some of these exchanges can end up in threats of caring for a child or sick parent. Another concern, albeit much less severe, are the thousands (if not millions) of kids and young adults that get wrapped up in games and just focus on that and being a mooch rather than getting jobs or paying rent.
The answer to the darker aspects of gaming above can be answered to fairly simply. Just as with things like guns, money, power and other aspects or items of life, just about anything can be abused or misused. Even basic things like water and oxygen can be lethal if administered in the wrong way and/or if administered to excess. Indeed, straight oxygen is actually toxic given that most of our breathable air is nitrogen and not oxygen. Furthermore, water poisoning is a real thing. However, to look at behavioral cues and trends, just about anything can be a fixation or excessive habit. Suggesting that video games be banned would be akin to suggesting that guns, relationships, baseball bats, knives and so forth (not to mention many other things) should be banned because they are the home (or the cause) of death and destruction. However, the problem with these illegal (or at least immoral) acts is the people and their mindset and not the items/concepts themselves. As such, moving to ban or regulate those items too severely is just going to come down hard on those that are doing nothing to deserve the limitations and bans they are enduring and the afflicted are just going to manifest their perversion and/or dysfunction in other ways.
As far as the literature that informs or contradicts the items above, one such work was authored by Henry Jenkins. One of the examples and ideas that was forwarded in that work was that video games can teach people to kill, maim and destroy in much the same way that is taught and cultivated for people that actually do such things for a living such as the military. Such rhetoric was advanced by no less than a retired West Point military psychologist. However, Jenkins shoots down, to use a pun, the idea that the content and context of the game alone is the only thing that should be looked at, Indeed, he states that to assume that the person playing the game does not know full well that it is not "real" and it is indeed a contrived and fake scenario and event would seem to render the player devoid of any conscious effort to not actually do such acts in real life. This is not to say that players of these games may not lack the proper reasoning to understand that it is just a game but that is not the fault of the game and would indeed be caused and cultivated by other factors such as upbringing and education, just to name to main ones (Jenkins). Contrary to the above, the other side of that coin, and as offered via the counterpoint noted above, is noted in Turkle's work is that society is becoming entirely too "tethered." Meaning, people of all ages are entirely too attached and relegated to their use of technology and it is really to an unhealthy degree in a lot of ways. Examples of this are texting while driving, truly not "unplugging" when out of the office or…
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