WATCH: Why older generations don't accept video games

Psychologist Patrick Markey, who wrote “Moral Combat," says, "Every generation thinks they had it just right"

By Amanda Marcotte

Senior Writer

Published June 15, 2017 4:00PM (EDT)

This "Salon Talks" video was produced by Kevin Carlin

In recent years adults, in both political and in media roles, have raised concerns over violent video games like “Mortal Kombat” or “Grand Theft Auto,” worrying that they turn members of younger generations indolent or violent.

But Patrick Markey, co-author of “Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong,” explained during a recent episode of "Salon Talks," that this concern that he termed "a moral panic" owes more to the newness of video games than to anything intrinsically perverse about the medium itself.

Why do political leaders become so worked up over video games?

One of the reasons is probably because a lot of people who are in the news cycle, a lot of people who are politicians and so forth, they tend to be older, and so a lot of them did not grow up surrounded by video games.

It's hard for them to see value in video games. They’ll think people are just wasting their time playing video games. And they simply don't understand the media. And it looks scary.

Will the panic over video games ebb over time? 

Younger people who grew up surrounded by Nintendos and Ataris — and as they take over, we might see just a, kind of a lessening of this moral combat or moral panic; that it might just happen on its own over time.

Why do new technologies cause panic?

There’s this thing that we call the Goldilocks effect. The Goldilocks effect is the idea is that every generation thinks they had it just right. And so older people think that we're all, the younger generation’s crazy; they’re out of control. And younger people tend to think that the older generation’s too conservative and too buttoned-up.

So be it video games or television or movies, across the board we tend to think our generation is the right one, and anything before or after is either too crazy or too conservative.

Catch more of the conversation with Markey about generational views on video games and new technology.

By Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a senior politics writer at Salon and the author of "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte and sign up for her biweekly politics newsletter, Standing Room Only.

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