First of all: There is an awesome post at Zuska's site about how she feels about the responses to her blog, even when the comments aren't flaming or judgmental. It is very eloquent, but sad to read for those of us who greatly enjoy her blog and know that what she is doing is really important.
Second, the topic o' the day: another issue related to the complexities of getting everyone in a research group to play well with others.
Some of my research group members were disturbed to find out that another member spends a lot of time playing computer games that simulate extreme violence. I don't know the details of the games, but I suppose I would be disturbed if the violence were a particular sort -- for example, directed against children, kittens, or physical scientists. Most likely it is a fantasy game involving monsters or whatever.
It's not something I understand; I can't handle watching even low levels of violence in mainstream movies, and this severely limits the number of movies I can watch without closing my eyes. But, although I don't think it is a good thing that the student is so interested in virtual violence, I'd need to know more before deciding that this student has a problem that impacts his work in my group. Those who are upset by his descriptions of how many things he's killed and dismembered have asked him not to tell them about this, and I think that is reasonable.
I once worked with someone who made a point of leaving disturbing images on work computers for me to see, and that was a problem. That's not the case with the current situation.
I think about the issue of computer violence often in the context of my daughter's computer activities. I have talked with her at length about what is OK and not OK in terms of internet use, virtual reality, and so on. I am generally aware of her computer activities, but I don't monitor them extremely closely. Mostly she has been obsessed with Club Penguin this year, and that seems quite harmless even if some (actually: all) of the activities seem bizarre to me. However, an older friend recently introduced her to a new internet game, and I was taken aback when my daughter said, casually "You know that new game that I play where the point is to kill everything in sight?". No, I did not know she was playing a game in which the point was to kill everything in sight. She assured me that she knows that this is just a game and that killing real things is wrong, blah blah blah.
Fortunately, she still seems to prefer the happy little penguins, but I don't suppose that will last, and I don't suppose my student would be interested in switching to Club Penguin. I don't think it is possible to kill the penguins, although the fish don't seem to fare as well.
1 year ago