By: Jay Krieger
Video games are the most interactive form of media. They provide consumers a unique opportunity to, in the loosest sense of the word, live in someone else’s shoes. The number of genres of video games is almost endless, and while not all games are the same, a majority of them utilize violence as a means of gameplay.
Over the years, violence in video games has been addressed by the media and politicians as being a detriment to the youths of society. More specifically, whenever a violent tragedy involving young children or young adults occurs, video games are typically one of the first things to be blamed. The two most recent mass shootings in Auroa, CO and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, have caused a resurgence of anti-violent video game rhetoric that is both without merit and ridiculous.
I’m slightly biased, as I play video games frequently. More specifically, I play violent video games. I’ve committed some of the most heinous acts imaginable in video games, as many have that played a game where violence is a major factor. But once I’m done playing, that’s it, game over. My actions in video games, no matter how violent, don’t translate to my real world actions.
A popular talking point made by various news syndicates (I’m looking at you Fox News) is that by playing violent video games, and more specifically as first person shooters, people utilizing these games as training for real world acts of violence and these violent images are making them more prone to violent actions. This is a moronic notion that gets thrown around by pundits constantly and there is no concrete evidence that supports the claim. But, this hasn’t stopped some towns from planning the destruction of violent media as a response to the Sandy Hook tragedy (this event was later canceled).
Now, I can understand the claim that people may become aggressive after playing video games, (after all, who enjoys losing?), but people assume aggression or anger will always result in a physical altercation. Do I get pissed when I lose a match of FIFA to a friend? Yup, you bet. But I don’t become psychically violent over it. If this was the case, my entire generation would either be incarcerated or committing violent felonies on a daily basis.
In addition, there are a plethora of studies that “prove” both sides of the argument, though these studies are released so frequently and often contradict each other that there is no official statement on the matter. I do support the claim that violent images and media can desensitize a person to violence, but only in the case of someone that is mentally ill. People that see violent media don’t see the correlation between real world actions and those taken in a digital setting. These people shouldn’t be privy to these types of media, as they’re most likely very impressionable. Why should the medium of violent video games suffer, based on a small majority that they could possibly effect in a negative way?
Politicians have even suggested such ridiculous notions as taxing violent videogames, suggesting “video games are more of a problem than guns,” and as a direct reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting, the Massachusetts State Department of Transportation decided to remove all violent video game arcade cabinets from their rest stops.
Typically, many people forget that there is a rating system in place to stop minors from purchasing content that isn’t appropriate for their age group. But as soon as the blame shifts from violent media to poor parenting, the argument is deemed not worth merit in pursuing.
It’s time that pundits and politicians stop declaring a war on violent video games every time they need a quick fix for attempting to propose ways to preemptively stop violent crimes before they happen. Instead of proposing that the government should restrict violent media, maybe they should make our country’s mental health programs more of a priority, or possibly take a look at firearm laws. But instead, they would rather apply a quick fix to the problem and blame video games for people’s actions. In the end, it comes down to parenting and maybe not letting your child experience media that isn’t meant for their age group.