After a dozen years in the computer game business, I left it in the late 90s. There were a couple of big reasons, and one of them was that the whole industry had gone gaga for building first-person shooters -- and I refused to work on them. I was a mother by then, and believed there were higher, better things in the world to contribute my talents to than building entertainments that taught kids to kill.
Everybody thought I was nuts. As I expected, when word got out that I wasn't going to work on violent games, the work dried up. I didn't care. I did what I felt was the right thing -- and still have no regrets.
At the time, the conventional wisdom was that, if anything, violent games were more cathartic than they were harmful. The companies I worked for were selling educational games into schools by touting the deep learning that happens in immersive interactive game environments -- while, at the same time, insisting that no, kids couldn't possibly be learning anything harmful from the first-person shooters they also produced. I thought this was bullshit. And I feared for my children's generation.
Those chickens have come home to roost. You cannot convince me that the aggression and hostility that are now rendering the Internet unfit for any higher human purpose isn't somehow connected to the fact that for the past 25 years, kids have spent a lot more time learning to solve conflict with virtual violence than by interacting compassionately with their fellow humans.
This article backs me up. Newer research is validating what I knew when I left the business 20 years ago. The art we create both reflects us, and creates us. And the computer game business has, on balance, brought out and reinforced the very worst in us. As we look for the roots of our larger social and political dysfunction, we'll find that the kinds of games we've been raising our kids on have more to answer for than we've been willing to admit.