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Video Games and Violence: is there a connection?

By Joshua Rigsby, Editor

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Humans are wondrous creatures, capable of building cities and establishing countries. However, humans are also capable of horrendous things, like murder and torture of others. We don’t understand what causes violence in humans, but we’ve tried to tie certain things to the idea that they aid in causing violence. The newest victim of this trend is video games. While the fears of people are justified, it is important that they look into why and how video games are blamed for violence before taking it as fact.

Where has this idea developed that video games cause violence? This trend started and gained traction when it was discovered that many of the perpetrators of mass murders and other horrendous crimes played or had ties to video games. While at first look this may seem like a solid correlation, but upon further investigation we can see that this is a very weak argument. Two thirds of Americans claim to play video games on a somewhat regular basis, so your perpetrator already has a two out of three chance to have played video games before the crime. Also, the horrendous crimes in America that are blamed on games occur on a much smaller scale in other countries. South Korea has made video games a national sport, with massive, annual tournaments occurring and many more casual gamers playing for fun. South Korea has never in its history experienced a school-shooter incident. Japan plays double the amount of games that Americans do, but nowhere near as many murders.  This problem seems isolated to the US. This isolation shows a problem with American culture, not the media its citizens consume.

The biggest fear people have is that violent games will have a negative effect on their child, which is true and false. Can it have a bad effect? Yes, absolutely. If a child is too young to comprehend the content of a game, they could think that what is depicted in the game is normal and socially suitable. This could lead to negative effects on their development. But the opposite is just as true. For every child the game hurts, there are plenty of kids that have no effect from playing. I’ve heard of

The people that commit these mass killings are not mentally stable. I have yet to find one account of a perfectly stable person going out on a killing spree. A stable person just doesn’t do that. These people that have played the games and killed people were not normal. These killers had severe mental issues that existed long before they played the game, and would continue to exist if they never played at all. People rush to their defense saying the game triggered them into committing these horrendous acts. Maybe it did, but it’s still not the fault of the game. Someone had to have known that this person had issues, they knew this game might hurt them. It’s not the game’s fault, it is the fault of the people who gave this person the game but didn’t think of the consequences that could come from that decision. The same applies if you took them to see a violent movie, let them listen to violent music or let them read a violent book. We need to stop blaming the media people enjoy and start blaming the killers.

I think another reason this belief that games cause violence comes from the fact that they are new. The vast majority of politicians and activists probably never grew up with games or have played them in any significant amount, which should be fairly obvious considering their hatred for them. In the words of H.P. Lovecraft, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Mankind is horrified by what we don’ understand. This is why ancient societies had a god for everything. The same reason we see God as an old, oversized man. We need something to fill the gap in our understanding. People want to understand why people do terrible things, and they see the violence in media and pin it to that. Video games aren’t the first target, this has gone on for a while. Superman was blamed for causing homosexuality and juvenile delinquency. The Looney Tunes were making parents concerned that their child would start jumping off cliffs in hopes of landing perfectly fine. Time and time again these targets have been defended as innocent from causing the problems of the world. Video games are just the next advance in entertainment. I feel we will see this trend of games being blamed for crime end in the ten years, once it finds its place in society.

I feel another huge issue is parenting. Parents complain about their kids being affected by these games and that they act out on them, but you will never see them complain about movies hurting their kids. I guarantee nine times out of ten they will say because the movie has a rating on it. The movie says R so they know it’s not OK. This is a flawed logic because games have ratings too. The game says right on the box T for teen or M for mature. The ESRB goes through these games and rates them based on content categories. Let’s play the devil’s advocate for a minute and the parent says the categories are too broad to make a good judgement on the content, that’s still not an excuse. There are plenty of third party review sites that cover these games. All you have to type is “[name of game] parental review” and instantly tons of websites and maybe even some videos will pop up and go in depth into every mature segment of a game. Also parents need to consider the maturity of their child in all of this. Is your kid a good student, well behaved and capable to deal with complex events, then they could probably handle game recommended for one or two years older than they are currently. The problem is every kid I’ve seen playing these violent games are toxic, rude jerks. They have no respect for the other players and should not being playing games period until they get their act together. These kids would have behaved like that game or no game. To be honest their behavior is probably got them the game. Their parents probably couldn’t deal with them so they just get them the game to keep them out of their hair. But then shame on the parents for failing to do their job in making sure their kid changes how he/she behaves. Another problem with the parenting is that parents are uneducated about video games. Back in their inception, video games were designed for children. The medium, however, has grown with the audience. Not all games are for children anymore, with the majority being focused towards older teenagers and adults. The parents of this generation were, born in the 1960’s and 1970’s, back when games were designed for small children. Many adults still view games with the same lens as they did when they were children. Parents need to be educated that not all games are appropriate for all ages. I feel once parents take the time to see what is in games of today, we will see a decrease in the numbers of people too young to be playing these games.

To finally put this to rest, just use common sense. Think of people you know that play these kinds of games. I’m going to guess you can’t think of one that was violent. Gamers are generally very peaceful and we keep our violence in the games. The profiling that occurs that we are violent and bloodthirsty needs to end. It’s time that we start blaming criminals for their actions and not the entertainment they used.


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The student news site of Xavier High School
Video Games and Violence: is there a connection?