With recent events such as the Aurora (Batman) and Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, the issue of gun control and violence has become the talk of the media, and it seems that, once again, interactive media like video games have been the primary focus. Honestly, are we surprised? We shouldn’t be, because it’s a very easy target and sadly, a lot of misinformed people buy into this argument simply because video games over the past 15 years have reached a level of “realism” that is easy to point the finger at. It’s become very easy for people like Jack Thompson to go on Fox News and blame games like Medal of Honor for being “murder simulators.” Just because video games are an easy target does not make this argument correct.
So if video games are not the problem, what is?
Let’s take a look at the bigger picture here: The media neglects to mention that just about every other major country in the world plays video games and watches violent media such as action movies, yet they have a fraction of the gun violence that America does. Japan is a perfect example. In 2008, the U.S. reported 12,000 gun-related fatalities, but in a very stark contrast, Japan reported only eleven. As a matter of fact, in 2006, there were only two gun-related fatalities reported in Japan, a country that has almost 130 million citizens. One can argue that Japan has much tight gun-control laws, and I would say: That’s the point.
It’s far too easy for anyone to obtain weapons in this country. Not enough background checks, and unfortunately, the internet has blown the gun market wide open to virtually anyone who wants a gun, even if they legally are not allowed to own one. On top of that, many of these people who partake in these horrific acts have long-standing psychological problems stemming from a wide array of issues such as a poor upbringing, being bullied, etc. We all know that these people do not (and possibly cannot) make rational decisions like you and I.
The media would like you to believe that many of these killers used video games as their “training tools.” I find this somewhat laughable because many of the games they point at are games like Doom and Halo, which use very unrealistic, Alien weaponry. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are also pointed it, which again, are these games realistic enough to really be called “murder simulators?” Often times, the news outlets feature “experts” who will speak about all kinds of studies. We all know how often we hear about new studies on the news, practically every day. Rather than a study, I’ll provide you with something a little more concrete. What if I told you that since the ride of video games in the late 80s, crime rates have dropped. The FBI themselves have even backed this up. This is called the “incapacitation effect,” which Kotaku talks about in an article related to the matter, to which they state, “Put simply, if you’re inside playing games, you’re voluntarily not outside committing crimes.”
The American Psychological Association have also gone on record saying, “there is not consistent evidence for the claim that younger children are more negatively affected than adolescents or young adults or that males are more affected than females. There is some evidence that highly aggressive individuals are more affected than nonaggressive individuals, but this finding does not consistently occur.” — Highly aggressive individuals, which sounds to me like people who already have underlying issues.
The real issue here is the people behind these crimes, their mental health, and also the fact that these killers are glorified by the media and are given so much air-time and attention. The names of the Aurora and Sandy Hook shooters have become household names, but can you name me one victim?
When it comes to the media, we’ve all seen time and time again that video games are their go-to scapegoat. This is only because they’re an easy, and somewhat logical target to those who are ill-informed. The internet is a beautiful thing, and I am so thankful that I live in the information age of today where I can do my own research on these sorts of matters. I’m even more blessed that I have a platform like TGF where I get to share and discuss these things with all of you.
The next time you hear Fox News, CNN, or any news outlet for that matter speak on the “connections” between games and violence, do yourself and everyone a favor by changing the channel. Chances are it’s propaganda and the only reason they continue to push this issue is because it draws viewers, which means advertisers and money. In the end, it’s all about the money.