There seems to have been a bit of a negative reaction to my last post, 'A few thoughts on virus writing', suggesting that it has been misunderstood. Let me be plain. I was not encouraging teenagers to write viruses, nor have I ever done so. Nor was I suggesting that all teenagers do today is play games. Rather, I was saying that I think there has been a significant switch from one to the other. And the very things that motivated some teenagers to write 'classic' or 'true' viruses in the past (asserting their personality, etc.) are much more likely today to lead them towards gaming. Again, let me be plain. I'm not saying that writing viruses is good, or that gaming is bad for all of them. I simply wanted to highlight the fact that it's one of the important factors that has changed the malware landscape.
On the other hand, playing games too much may lead kids to serious problems. I'm talking about the fact that computers can alter kids' minds. When this happens, there is the risk that it will “catch” them and they'll never return. I recall incidents with "silent kids" in Japan and the USA about 10-15 years ago, when some kids spent all their time with computers. What about highly aggressive online / computer games? And what about those cases when playing games for too long has had lethal consequences?
Thus, Mary may have misunderstood my comments. I was talking about some kids who don't write 'true viruses' because they are gaming (or because they joined criminal groups to develop 'commercial' malware). I wasn't talking about Mary's kids -- neither was I talking about my children. But when I read in Mary's comment that the kids 'are also ... playing paintball on weekends', I wondered: when they play paintball which roles do they play? Whom do they target and fight – Viet Kong soldiers, Iraqi rebels or do they train themselves for future military conflicts?