Games don’t kill people, people kill people
But morons blame games for the actions of those people. This weekend boasted quite a bit of unpleasant, gaming related murder news.
First, we have this story, wherein a 14-year-old Iowa boy killed and attempted to rape his mother after she took away his Call of Duty. The fact that he had his own .22 rifle (that he’d been given at the ripe old age of 11) isn’t even touched upon in some articles, but we mustn’t forget to mention the game!
Next, we have this story, about a 14-year-old Scottish child who slashed a 13-year-old’s throat. The assailant is already a father, showing excellent judgement and impulse control for someone underage. The two apparently met online, playing Gears of War 3; they eventually met in person and were friends. However, a month before the slashing they had a falling out that devolved into name-calling through Xbox live. If you were to believe this mainstream reporting of the article, Gears of War is entirely to blame. I particularly like this explanation, as if it explains everything:
The 18-rated game, which contains ‘strong bloody violence’, rewards players for devising ways of murdering their opponents.
For those who are interested, Kotaku did a fantastic, in-depth (read: very long) article about the 25 years of research that has been done regarding violent video games. In it, we see that research has been uneven at best and there are a range of conflicting views. The only thing that researchers can agree upon is that playing violent games does increase aggression. However, the degree to which it raises aggression may be negligible.
Honestly, I am so tired of violence by youths being blamed on violent video games or music. Remember the story about the Krugersdorp murders? Let’s just be grateful they didn’t find any video games that he’d been playing. Or that recent shooting spree in Connecticut – the media acted as if everything was explained once they found out he’d played Call of Duty. They even compared his situation to that of Anders Breivik, the man who killed 69 people in Norway.
It seems that every time someone commits a horrible crime, it is linked back to the games they played or the music they listened to. How about we start linking divorces to the number of romantic comedies someone watched? Or blaming friends for our weight gain?
Or how about people look at personal responsibility? Young people are influenced by a range of factors, not just video games and music. I played violent games from a very young age, but I also sat down every evening for family dinners and chatted with my mom about my day at school every afternoon over a healthy snack. I don’t think they even had games ratings back then – my mom still took an active interest in what I was playing (or watching on TV, or reading) and would discuss themes of violence or sexuality, as well as the difference between reality and fantasy! Nowadays, parents can actually see if a game will be “too mature” for their children and prevent them from playing it!
Playing violent video games is my way of venting some of my daily frustration – rather than take out my aggravation on real people and things, I can safely express those feelings by racking up a huge kill count in Prototype. I just hope people can stop blaming violence on video games and instead start looking at our society and what we can do to fix it.