As mentioned before, E3 is coming up. It’s considered one of the biggest events of the year concerning a popular past time called video games. You can read my analysis of the appeal of games here. Today, I mean to cover a topic that has died down, but is bound to come up again.
Lately, video games are receiving the bad rep of leading to an increase of violence. This idea has been exaggerated to the point of games being blamed for shootings. Yes, these are terrible crimes and we should work to prevent them in the future, but in order to do that, we need to make sure our attention is in the right place.
Games are only the latest to be blamed for violence. Before that, it was television. Then it was movies and comics. Books and stories have been blamed for a long time for inciting the people. That is why there is a thing called censorship, but that is an argument for a different time. As I was indicating, placing the blame on a single part of society has been around for quite a long time, and it’s always the “latest” thing.
While some people agree that it cannot be pinned on just video games, they merely extend it to all of media. They are on the right track, but still are missing key information. They are still making broad generalizations in this modern day “witch hunt,” which also is another topic for another day.
One of the causes for this mob is the lack of understanding. There’s that old saying that “people fear what they do not understand”. They cannot explain it, thus it is illogical and evil. Some people misunderstand it, and combined with the other group, a mob is formed. For the case of “witch” hunts, some people attributed resurrection and healing to black magic and the devil. In a Christian world, this cannot be done because it acts against the nature of their religion, considering the story of their savior healed people and raised them from the dead. Thus people need to first try to understand the issue correctly, hence my essay on the Allure of Video Games.
In the case of video games and many aspects of the media, there is this tendency to paint everything under the same brush. Since the news generally reports only the bad stuff that happens, most of the public only hears of the bad stuff. They get the impression that video games are only Call of Duty and since they feature guns, they lead to real life shootings. I don’t know of anyone whose skill with a controller means they can handle a real gun.
Now it is certainly possible that first person shooters can lead to real life shootings, only because we are human and thus stupid. But even then, there are two major prerequisites. First, there needs to be a disregard to the value of life, especially of innocents. Second, the guy needs to be crazy. And of course, people can argue the first implies the second or vice versa.
Why those two? Because even with the abundance of violence in the media, that should not make it easier to kill people if we value the concept of life. And as long as we are not insane, we can maintain that view. As long as our heroes still show a respect for life, even of the criminals, then I would think that would prove my point. To my knowledge, the nature of Batman and Superman is still to let the law handle it, and the versions that don’t do that are turned into insane villains.
While I acknowledge the possibility of causation, that's all it is. A possibility. A 1 out of 5 billion chance that someone will go crazy and somehow that is the cause. Do video games lead to increase of aggression? Not as much as just bringing up the idea of politics does. Politics are the cause of many innocent killings and shootings, and they get funding, but we haven't banned that yet. Is it fair for me to paint all political activity under the same brush?
On that note, most games are not Call of Duty. There is still Mario, Portal, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Minecraft, etc. In fact, in Nintendo games, the player rarely encounters another human-like foe. I remember being told, “Don’t go into video games, because those are dens of evil.” Uh, no. Video games are art, the formation of something created in someone’s mind. Just like a movie or a painting, whether requested or not. There may be an abundance of bad art, but that doesn’t mean there are not good ones. Even then, I wouldn't necessarily say Call of Duty is bad art per se.
Is there an over abundance of violent video games? Probably, but since I don't play them so often, that leads to another thing. I've already mentioned there are alternatives, and they are popular. That means the consumer and gamer has choices in what games they play. Parents have choices in what games they let their children play. If they are buying primarily "Mature" content for a 10-13 year-old, then I would think there are far more fundamental problems going on there than the kid playing a game.
One last thing I will address. I heard someone say that there is a “study” that playing video games cause people to be more irritated. Everyday life causes people to become irritated. If we were to ban games based off that idea, sports would also be gone (remember that obsessed fans really go crazy). Then again, traffic, politicians, and bullies would also be banned, which could eliminate so many problems, though cause new ones. The thing is, we cannot disprove the idea that games are what kept shooters from acting earlier.
There’s actually one more thing that came to my mind. I don’t know what are the real motivations of these shooters. Did they just not have any value for life? Was there a specific message they wanted us to see? With all the attention that is given to shooters, you’d think there would be some focus on what made them snap. Too bad our society decides to focus on debating guns and burning video games instead.