Videogame Playing in Peru

Technology improves worker productivity but it also provides new forms of entertainment.  Beginning in the twentieth century, entertainment forms such as silent movies, talking movies, radio, black & white television, color television, video cassette recorders and video games have emerged in succession.  Each new technology is not just an enhanced version of some previous form, but they have their unique characteristics and effects.  

In this regard, videogames are different because they are interactive in nature, as opposed to the passive modes of broadcast media.  There are different kinds of videogames: arcade video game machines, computer video games that must be played on personal computers, standalone videogame consoles (such as Nintendo, Sony Playstation, Sega and others) and hand-held videogame gadgets.  

We will now cite some data from the TGI Peru study.  This is a survey of 2,007 persons between the ages of 12 and 64 years old in Lima, conducted in early 2001.  Of these people, 16% of them indicated that they have a videogame machine at home.  The ownership of videogame machines is very much a function of economic affluence, as the incidences are

The next chart shows the incidences of various genres of games among those who own videogame machines.

One of the persistent issues about videogames is the violent nature of certain games.  For example, what redeeming value can a PS2 game titled Gran Theft Auto have?  Of course, other forms of entertainment have been criticized for violence too, especially slasher movies such as Friday the Thirteenth, Halloween, Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street.  But by virtue of its interactive nature, videogames involve the players in the first-hand experience of mowing down hundreds and hundreds of enemies with all types of weapons or ripping the hearts out of your defeated opponents in games such as Mortal Kombat and Thrill Kill.  Similarly, the mindless slaughter in games such as Doom and  Quake are assumed to have contributed to various mass shootings because people have been conditioned to feel that it is alright to shoot people since there are no consequences.  The converse argument is that these violent videogames are only natural in a society whose citizens are armed to the teeth and more than ready to settle any arguments by deadly force.



It is one thing to deplore the glorification of violence in certain videogames.  It is something else when along comes a game that features political corruption.  In 2001, the rule of President Alberto Fujimori ended in Peru followed the broadcasting of many videotapes that show his security advisor Vladimir Montesinos' bribery attempts with media owners, businessmen, politicians and government officials.  The rapid manner of the fall of this government is cataclysmic and led to the democratic election of Alejandro Toledo.  In the aftermath, a computer game titled Vladigame was marketed in Peru.  In this game, the principal character Niko Judo fights a number of corrupt politicians to capture Fujimori and Montesinos and to recover the money stolen from Peru. 

While one can argue that Vladigame imparts values of fairness and justice, it is more difficult to confer the same values to the game of Rey del Perú.  In that game, the two presidential candidates --- Alejandro Toledo and Alan Garcia --- fight it out in the manner of the classical Street Fighter game.  But given the considerable dissatisfaction with both candidates, this might just have been appropriate.

(posted by Roland Soong, 6/24/2001)

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