On Tuesday night, PCV staff held our first circle discussion. The topic: video games, violence in video games, and those games being played in our public space. You see, here at Peace Culture Village, we have a Play Station 4 with games like Assassin's Creed: Origins, NBA 2k19, God of War, Jack Box Games, and Marvel’s The Amazing Spider Man. For some of our staff members, video games are a method of self-care, a chance to relax, and even bond and interact with one another. However, there were some concerns over a) the hypocrisy in playing violent video games at a place espousing Peace Culture b) the issue of playing those games in a public space.
Sage, our conflict manager, facilitated a circle discussion, in which participants sat in a circle and shared their opinions about video games, one at a time, while the others carefully listened. The first time we went around the circle, we shared our general opinions on these games. The second time, we addressed violence in video games specifically, and had a chance to respond to points that others had made earlier. The final time, we addressed the issue of video games in our own community, and tried to come up with a system that would respect the needs of both people who want to play video games, and those who may find video games to be distracting or even traumatic.
During our session, we discussed how games can be a tool for self-care and community building. We also acknowledged that they can be addictive, isolating, and may normalize violence. One participant, who grew up in Zimbabwe during a violent civil war, explained that his visceral reaction to violent video games (and any violent media for that matter) ranged from numbness to heart-wrenching, and that it was extremely upsetting for him to be exposed to such media. Another participant from America mentioned that violence is sometimes necessary in storytelling to move the plot forward and create meaningful moments.
In the end, we decided to tentatively limit public “game time” to evenings and weekends, and pay more attention to the needs and expectations of our guests when it comes to our public spaces.
Aside from our circle discussion, we also got a chance to check out Kamitaya this week, a house that Peace Culture Village has recently purchased. The second floor may be a tad precarious, but the house is still quite beautiful. Future plans for the space may include a separate office or guest house. But these plans are still in the making, and probably won’t see fruition until after the coming winter.
-- Mary and Lucas