Posting this at the top of the blog since this past weekend saw several horrendous shootings and, once again, misinformation is being spread about the effects of gaming on young men.
I’m sure by now most of you are aware of the school shooting which recently took place in Florida, and you are probably aware of the storm of information and misinformation flying around in the aftermath. From “scripted victims” to government conspiracies, there is such a thing as being able to find too much information on a subject. In fact, any sane person looking into the ensuing flood of information, both good and bad, is likely to get lost in all of it and gain nothing of value, which may, really, be the goal.
This post, however, will focus on the presidents statements in the aftermath regarding violence in video games movies, seeing as how I post quite a bit of stuff on gaming on my blog, and also in response to an article written over at The Well-Red Mage.
“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, and they’re so violent. And yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”
These are the words of our president, Donald Trump, whom I appreciate. I think thus far he has been a good president overall and the United States has benefitted much from the direction he has taken us. Unfortunately, however, I think he greatly misinformed on this subject.
Look, I’ll keep it short and sweet. Video games have ALWAYS been violent. From COMBAT on the Atari 2600 to Frogger, to Super Mario Bros. to Mortal Kombat, “violence” has always been there because games are, overall, about overcoming an obstacle or obstacles where failure to do so results in player “death”. The problem lies in the depictions of violence. Violence in Pac Man is tame compared to the gory violence in the latest Mortal Kombat. As society has loosened its grip on what is acceptable in music, movies and TV so video games have followed suit. As a result we went from eating ghosts to ripping a mans spine from his body and stabbing him with it repeatedly while blood and guts stain the camera lens.
I never remember anyone complaining about the violence in Street Fighter 2, nor in SNK’s Samurai Shodown, which featured being able to cleave your opponent in half in a shower of blood (not as gory as it sounds, really). Where people started to throw fits was at the release of Mortal Kombat and is realistic digitized graphics combined with unrealistic death and gore. So someone complained, sounds reasonable. Studies, since then, have been conducted over and over, and for every one that says games DO increase violent behaviors in boys you will find one that says they DON’T. So where do we turn for the truth?
I grew up playing games starting with the Atari 2600. Since then I have played every manner of game ranging in every level of violence. I played Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Time Killers, Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein, Killer Instinct, Final Fantasy, and my friends played along with me! Now, in my immediate group of friends back in high school that’s a solid dozen boys, of whom NONE became murderous killers. Not. A. One. Right now I’m playing through Wolfenstein, a game that involves shooting copious amounts of Nazi’s, flying blood and gore, stealth kills and sex! Guess what! Not once in the past couple of months since I bought the game has it even crossed my mind to pick up a gun and KILL AN ACTUAL PERSON!
If you work in an office, look around you. 90% of the men you see have played violent video games. Walk down the street, ask every man you see if he has ever spent time playing a violent video game and you will likely come up with the same percentage. Why aren’t they all killers? Why aren’t they all violent? Why haven’t they all had their minds altered from being steeped in violent games and movies? Why? Because the majority of people are not killers waiting to be activated! It’s the mind and heart of the people playing the games that is the culprit, not the games! I have never heard the motivation behind a killing or mass shooting being “A video game made me want to do it”. There’s always been some other motivation or a culmination of things leading up to the event.
Chances are if your reading this you know not just one, but several, maybe even MANY people who play video games of all sorts, and chances are not a single one is a killer.
The truth is, Mr. President, that at face value violence in video games and movies seems like a good target to go after when people are running amok, but the proof just isn’t there. At minimum there are so many other, viable, reasons and circumstances to go over BEFORE going after games and movies. The repeatable, statistically proven fact that kids from fatherless homes are more prone to violence, drug abuse, promiscuity and self harm is A FAR MORE VIABLE AND CONTROLLABLE PREDICATOR than video games. Video games are, unfortunately, a scapegoat to prevent us from looking and acting on stuff that has a REAL affect on kids, like divorce and broken homes, and I wont even start to go into the reason for THAT smoke screen.
Sorry, society, but your excuse is in another castle.