Logic Failure: Linking games to violence

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What are you doing with that pick-axe? No! Noooo!

What are you doing with that pick-axe? No! Noooo!

For many years now, video games have been the media punching-bag for anything from violent youth crime to school massacres to road rage. So, why does the media love to attack this particular entertainment industry?

● Older generations have never played any games. To them, games are an unknown influence. People fear the unknown, and thus ascribe to them the magic power to turn balanced, happy children into raging psychopaths. They do not try it for themselves and thereby realise that the risks are minimal. This lack of knowledge about the medium is also the reason that adult content finds its way into the hands of children who are legally too young to play it.

● The media ignores the idea that people prone to violence will be attracted to violent media. The killer chooses the media, the media does not choose the killer.

● People habitually like to blame horrible acts on identifiable external causes, from the Devil to witchcraft to movies and video games. Or goats. Hence, scapegoating.

● Part of the problem is the perception that games are automatically toys for young children and teens (an assumption which would never be made with books or films). They are not yet seen as a source of entertainment for what is, actually, their key market: 18 – 35 year olds.

● It’s an easy, clear target for anger and grief. Parents of victims would find it harder to focus an attack on “bad parenting” or “poor social integration in schools”, for example.

A recent US Secret Service study found that only 12% of those involved in school shootings were attracted to violent video games, while 24% read violent books and 27% were attracted to violent films. A far higher percentage showed violence in their own personal writing – essays, poems and diary entries.

In 2004, a 17 year-old murdered one of his friends. The victim’s parents immediately blamed the influence of the game Manhunt, as well as labeling the killer ‘inherently evil’ (which would presumably mean that he didn’t need to be influenced by anything).

Several news stories were run about the game being responsible. Stores removed it from shelves. It later because clear that the game was found in the victim’s house – not the killer’s – and that the motive for the murder was, in fact, simple robbery.

A parent’s distraught reaction is understandable. The media’s is not. Stop blaming games. Stop blaming goats. Blame parents, blame schools, blame the availability of guns, blame gang culture – because all of those things have an influence on children that far outweighs any brief entertainment. But most of all realize that people have, do and will continue to commit horrific acts.

 The sad truth is, we’re just not that far away from being monkeys.

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3 Responses to “Logic Failure: Linking games to violence”

  1. nerdwhoworksouttoomuch Says:

    I still remember how playing Mortal Kombat as a kid was supposed to turn me into a murderous psychopath likely to kill my own friends and think it was funny.

    These people don’t seem to grasp the idea that ANYTHING can motivate someone predisposed to killing others if it strikes them right- people have decided it would be a great idea to kill people when inspired by the Bible (or other religious texts), various ideologies, violent-themed music, books, movies, etc- do we just ban them all, and then act shocked when people find new motivation to kill others?

  2. Nick Says:

    Exactly, humans are fundamentally violent creatures; some more than others. Civilisation is just a thin veneer over the top…

  3. Nick Says:

    Extreme right wing Christian litigator, Jack Thompson, is battling to be allowed to remain a lawyer, after his conduct was declared unsuitable for his position of authority by the Florida bar.

    He climbed to fame by attacking movies and games as responsible for school shootings etc.

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