April 19, 2006

Game playing and domestic violence

By interviewing some of my research subject, one question interestingly arises is the link between game playing and domestic violence. The girl I interviewed in the afternoon seems to be quite confirmed that her boyfriend's violent behaviour during their fightings is more or less caused by his obsessive playing of computer games. I have overheard from another friend about his Japanese flatmate being violently treated by her boyfriend who also happen to be a game addict. Although I see it more caused by social isolation and stupidity which can be caused by other things as well, but there is a role of computer/video games in the development of such situation. Nevertheless, it is also arguable that certain people would react differently towards technologies. So I tend not to draw a generalised analysis. I only want to look at the cases that I am dealing with.

Of course it's unfair to draw a conclusion that computer gamers has a tendency to commit domestic violence to their girlfriends – I know quite a few really really nice and positive game addicts as well. But it is also necessary to draw attention to this group of game addicts (though due to the limitation of data collected only confined to the group of 20 something Chinese oversea students). As this girl described, he has nothing else to look for in his dull life so that he stays at home and plays games all the time. He got so involved in games that he is as arogant as the Generation Xbox Erin Biba described that believes in – 'killing the bad guys and saving the universe…'. He believed a solution to everything – climbed the window of his girlfriend's room while she went away with another guy, he kneel down and cried in front of her house, he posted their stories on populous online forums with real pictures and explicit contents … He believed himself to be very mature and seldom communicate with his girlfriend because she knows nothing.

At this point it is promptly enough to raise the question that why the consoles dumping down some while helping the others to develop their life ambition and getting sociable. To some, their social world only confined in the virtual world – like this girl's ex, he only talks to people who plays game with him; for others the social world elsewhere is more important. And why is that? All those varieties of game relating behaviours and disvision of social spaces? The girlfriend gave some interesting insight to this question: her ex is a second and youngest son of the family, the elder sister is over 4 years older than him. In a family values the boy baby very preciously (as the Chinese saying goes 重男轻女 weigh the boy and lighten the girl), he is much spoiled and developed a selfish personality. This explanation, though a bit too obvious, is often neglected as well. In China, there is a huge gaming population. Time to time I even overheard advices from young mothers that to avoid marrying the new male generation – 'they are the only child, not knowing how to take care of themselves let alone you'. The Chinese women's mentality of being taken care of in a relationship, socially and mentally, is also one problematic area, which can be one of the reasons the gradual isolation from the bigger social context after the couple getting together.

The more research done, the less I believe the social constructionists' theories that everything can be socially constructed. This only apply to certain extent, in other circumstances, if comparing two socially identical subjects, I guess the answer might only lies in the genes. It is perhaps inevitable to accept the proposition that everything is decided when it starts.

Why I interview the girlfriends – obviously, they are the real experts of these gamers, they have more expertise on aspects in their daily life than the gamers themselves. The latters has too little time to spare to observe these. I found this sort of secondary interviews more informative than first person interviews.

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