As we get older, I feel we start to recognize things about ourselves that we might not have noticed before. I’ve noticed that I’ve done my best to live a life that can only be described as “true neutral.” I enjoy hearing both sides of an argument and seeing the positives and negatives to both sides. I feel it’s good to take an unbiased look at an issue, then make your own judgment(s) and decision(s). Only then can you understand the issue and support your choice. If you just blindly pick a side, then you’re nothing better than a sheep.
With all of that said, I want to admit that there are still some subjects where I simply cannot remain neutral. There are some things in the world that are simply baffling to me. One of those things we’re taking a look at today is violence in video games or other forms of entertainment breeding violent people.
As someone who is very proud to be a part of the video game industry and who hopes to be a part of it for the rest of her life, I cannot stand when something potentially jeopardizes it. This industry has given me some of the best moments of my life and supportive friends. I’ve been to places I never would have visited and learned more about our world than I ever could have imagined, all thanks to video games. I firmly believe that this is true for the vast majority of other gamers and video game industry folks. So when I see video games being used as a scapegoat for a bigger political agenda, I simply cannot stand by idly.
To put things perfectly into perspective for everyone, when I hear someone say that the violence in video games (and other entertainment) are a major cause of real-life violence, I think of anti-vaxxers. If you think video games cause people to be violent, I absolutely wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that a vaccine gave one of your family members autism. You would fail to shock me further if you believed the world was flat or that outer space is an imaginary construct invented by the government. Video games do not cause people to be violent. As far as I’m concerned, violence is an inherent personality trait. Frankly, I think everyone has the ability to be violent deep down within them, but it is our job as good and decent humans who do not act on it.
Honestly, who among us hasn’t said that they would probably strangle someone who was an irritant, given the chance? Would we actually grip our hands around their neck until they cease to breathe? Absolutely not! Playing a video game where we strangle people isn’t going to suddenly give us reason to do it in reality. If anything, it probably makes it easier to contain those potential violent tendencies. It’s an outlet; it’s a way to vent frustrations that otherwise would simply bottle up until we freak out and break a couple vases against the wall (for those of us who happen to have vases on hand).
There have been countless cases of research and investigation into the idea that video games can cause real life violence, and they have come back negative. This research will probably continue into the future, considering people can’t seem to let go of using it as a scapegoat. At the time of this writing, even the current President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, blamed violence in the media for violence in reality. This is massively detracting from the real issues at hand, like mental health, safe home environments, and access to weapons. All of those issues I mentioned are hot button topics and should be the things the powers that be are talking about. Instead, violence in video games and other media are being used as a red herring.
Another example that is particularly relevant is the state of Rhode Island. It is looking to put a tax on M-rated video games in order to put more funding towards school counseling. Now, I am absolutely all for better school funding in order to get children counseling and other mental health help that they need. But it absolutely should not come at the cost of video games as a scapegoat. Society needs to come together and find an appropriate source for school funding of this sort. The video game industry should not have to pay for the failings of society to take care of its children. Stop pushing blame on something like video games, when the real source of the problem is all of us. Parents should be doing what they can to help their children through life, and so should teachers and other school staff. Society as a whole should help as well.
In a world where a large majority of the population is misplacing blame, despite scientific evidence proving them wrong, this is a major issue. If people keep incorrectly using video games as a cause for people becoming violent, others will begin to believe it. And if enough people believe this lie, then our beloved media of choice is in jeopardy. Actions need to be taken now, while we still can. The world (and America in particular) has become a bit complacent about things. We’ve forgotten that literally anything can happen, and nothing should be taken for granted. We could say, “There’s no way people could believe that the moon landing was fake,” and yet still it happens. We need to take this argument seriously, and do what we can to overwhelming prove it as false.
Almost the entire world has access to violent video games, violent movies, and other forms of media. Many of them have found their own ways to curb violent crimes without placing blame on these forms of entertainment. The United States can do so as well, and it starts with moving away from the red herring and talking about the real problems.