It's those damn violent video games!

... Is what I've already heard a few times from the uninformed. It's the movies, and the music, and the damn video games that drove him to do it... No, it really isn't, and if your opinion is something along those lines, you are wrong, and I suggest you pay attention.

The tragedy that happened on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut was just that, a tragedy. No words can describe the mental state that the young man was in when he decided it would be a good idea to do what he did. I will not state names, nor glorify him, he does not deserve it. I will not list victims, they have already been through enough. What I will try to do is educate you, help you understand, that not all of the entertainment, and media, that is violent, is not THE reason why what happened, happened.

I went to school for a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. Writing, journalism, blogging, whatever this is called, has become a hobby that I have picked up along the way. I like to think I have actually gotten very good at it. During my time at school, I had written two papers about how video game violence is not the reasoning behind this. At the time I had written it, it was more derived from the events of the Columbine incident. Since then, shootings at Virginia Tech University, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and this awful incident on Friday. Every time something like this happens, a male, aged 15-30, white, starts shooting, the immediate scapegoat is music, movies, and of course video games. We live now in a world where violence is the norm. The media portrays wars everyday in the news. We see bodies laying on tables, destroyed buildings, and victims crying. We, as a nation, can never seem to get enough of these incidents. The pictures plastered across TV screens, newspapers, and every website, no matter the language. Yes, I do agree that we live in a somewhat desensitized world. At this point, within the past 20 years, we've seen a drastic change in the way things work. But it is by far, not responsible for the what has happened, and not the cause for shooting innocent people.

Ever since video games took a turn for realism, they have been taking the brunt of the blame whenever something bad happens. And honestly, I don't understand why they're always targeted. I grew up playing video games. All of them. The sports games, the adventure games, the horror, and believe it or not, the violent ones. A lot of the violent ones actually. As long as I could actually remember, it’s been the violent ones. Whether or it’s Super Mario Brothers, or Zelda. Sonic the Hedgehog, or Streets of Rage. Madden Football, Splinter Cell, or Final Fantasy 10. Uncharted, Call of Duty, or Grand Theft Auto. Especially Grand Theft Auto. It will always come back to Grand Theft Auto. I played all of them. And yes, they can all be considered violent. Jumping on things to kill them, beating people up in the street, trying to lay big hits and knock players out, choking people until they pass out, or fighting monsters with swords. Guess what? It’s all violence. Yet look at me. I have no interest in killing anyone, let alone children. I actually have a problem with killing bugs, and eating meat as it is. Yet, anyone who has played a violent video game has the potential the shoot up a school. If that is your logic, I’m sorry, you’re wrong.

There are no games that portray you strangling a kid, there are no games that show you how to kill an innocent human being. Yes, there are times in games when things happen, where a civilian can be hurt, but there is never, or never will be, a part in a video game, when you will be tasked with that. Ever. And if there is, it will never be made by a game creator who knows what they’re doing. I will not deny that that stuff happens, because it does. But ultimately the burden of explaining that to a 14 year old lays somewhere else.

The problem mostly lies with the parents. It’s a tough thing to say. It’s really difficult to understand actually. Your general rebuttal would be something along the lines of, "if the kids want it they’ll get it." And yeah, that’s true. But when they come home, they should be questioned. “What did you do at Jimmy’s today? Should you be playing Saints Row: The Third? I think we need to talk about this.” The ESRB, or Electronic Software Ratings Board, is a pretty good organization. They’re the ones rating these games. If a game says M for Mature, chances are you really shouldn’t be buying it for 14 year old Johnny. I am being somewhat hypocritical as well. I played all of these games as a young kid. I remember for hours sitting playing Grand Theft Auto III with my best friend, and contributing blogger, Justin. Not once have we ever had a deranged thought to hurt someone just because. But I was brought up by wonderful parents who took the time out of their busy lives to teach me the consequences of pain, suffering, and death. I knew that pulling a trigger meant the end. It is your responsibilities as adults, not just parents, to monitor what kids do and see. If you’re OK with them playing Grand Theft Auto IV, then let them, just let them know the what they’re doing, and what they’re playing. Make sure you’re comfortable with talking about prostitution, mobs bosses, and what an AK-47 is. If a kid is playing a game with an M rating on it, you should absolutely be taking notice.

Now. you'd probably say that what about those old enough to play these games and purchase them without parents, but are sick in the head? Well, they're just that. Sick in the head. A normal person can draw a fine line between the game world, or the movie world for that matter. Obviously an ill person cannot. The game does not do this on its own. It is a catalyst for the problem. Usually, when mental illness is present, people know. Family members, friends, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends, someone knows. They did not grow up alone, they did not fend for themselves since they were a baby, someone had to be somewhat present. The problems should be brought up, and dealt with immediately. Whether its depression, being bipolar, schizophrenia, anything, the symptoms should be recognized and dealt with in the proper fashion. Anyone with those problems, with the inability to differentiate real life from a fantasy world, should not be given the extra push of a pixelated world where anything can happen without consequences.

I'm not going to get into gun laws, that's another rant entirely. What I will get into is this; before you start questioning a game, maybe you should question your ability to look outside of yourself, and recognize the world around you, the problems we face as humans, and how difficult it is to live as a self proclaimed "normal person," let alone someone struggling to find their own identity. If everyone wasn't so hedonistic and cared only about themselves while they walked around with their iPhone ear buds in and noticed this fast paced changing world around them, we could all make this a better place.

Let's just look at the statistics, millions upon millions of people play video games. From New Jersey to California, Japan to Turkey, and Italy to Ireland. It's a multi-billion dollar a year industry. So out of those, I don't know, let's say 500 million people, which is probably an extreme short sell, that have ever played a violent video game, maybe 10 incidents were blamed on video games. And in reality, it's not the game that's doing it, so we can say maybe 2 incidents can be roped into that, and that really is still pushing it. What it is, is the bullying, the teasing, mental illness, so on and so forth. So please, before you start blaming this on the games, or the movies, or the music, or art, or any form of entertainment, or whatever you want to call it, understand what you're saying. A video game never hurt anyone, people who want to hurt people, hurt people.

No comments:

Post a Comment