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Comment: How Gaming Saved My Ass From Prison (Score 1) 545

by joemontoya (#21513323) Attached to: Violent Games 'Almost' As Dangerous as Smoking
I graduated from High School in the early 1980s. For those of you that weren't around at that time it will be hard to image how dangerous it was to be a young man in the 80s. About 20% of the other guys in my graduating class are dead or serving life sentences. In the years right after graduating from school I spent a lot of time unemployed and getting into various types of trouble. Like most guys that age I considered myself to be smarter than the cops and in my case it was true. Eventually though, they got lucky and I was arrested on a minor weapon's charge.

While I was waiting for my case to come up on the docket I bought a computer, a commodore 64 and started playing Ultima. The long hours I spent playing that game kept me off the street at night and got me interested in computer programming. A friend of mine that was headed down the same self-destructive path started playing Ultima with me. We were still spent far to much time intoxicated, but atleast we were doing it while playing computer games in the crib and not while roaming around on the town armed to the teeth looking for a fight.

The other guys we had been hanging out with decided we were boring and went on with the usual business. They were all arrested and did varying amounts of time in the state system. One of them is dead; one appears to be turning his life around finally - 25 years later; I lost track of the others.

I have absolutely no doubt that my gamer friend and I would have ended up just like our old school buds if not for that commodore64 and Ultima. Instead of us being dangerous burdens on society, we now productive professionals paying lots of taxes. We both work in IT related fields, work we became interested in because of the time we spent hacking computer games.

Almost all violent crime is commited by young men. Ecomonics plays a part, but the primary reason is because young men are bored, have lots of excess energy and have nothing better to do.

The murder rate in this country peaked in the late 1980's and then declined rapidly and has stayed low compared to the 80s. I am convinced the reason that males in their teens and twenties don't roam the street shooting at each like they did back then is because game consoles and computers became widely available in the 1990s.

I would much rather some 19 year-old get his thrills playing Manhunt or GTA IV in his parents living room than to be out on the streets smoking ice and doing those simulated activities for real.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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