The Game and the GunMikey 13 comments
In the wake of , the topic of video game violence has again been resurrected. Opinions are strong on both sides, with gamers unsurprisingly rejecting the notion that playing Counter-Strike gives them homicidal tendencies, and conservative parents erring on the side of caution.
As a life long gamer with 30+ years of exposure to games that involve shooting, blasting, decapitating, bashing and some things you just don't want to know about, any of my family and friends will testify I don't have a violent bone in my body. So I side with the gamers on this one.
But there is more to the total equation than the media and certain lawyers will have you believe, and it makes you wonder whose interests they really have at heart. The result is law suites unfairly thrown at video game companies.
"It's easy to point the finger at something that immediately sticks out. But playing video games or listening to rock music doesn't create killers."
I am now going to attempt to convince you why suing the video game manufacturers is wrong in these instances. If I do my job correctly by the end you will agree that not only are video game companies not the target, but they shouldn't even be on the radar.
Allow me to introduce Johnny Hypothetical. We'll just call him Johnny for this exercise.
Johnny is an average student, perhaps below average, in his 2nd year of high school. Like other kids his age he plays video games whenever he gets the time, which is quite often because he doesn't have many friends. Counter-Strike is his favourite. The games let him temporarily forget about the sad reality of his life. He isn't very popular with the other kids and gets bullied a lot. He is socially awkward which makes connecting with people difficult.
The truth is that Johnny's social awkwardness is the result of years of physical and mental abuse from a drunk Dad, who also beat up on his Mum. His Dad used to pick on him a lot in fact, regularly reminding Johnny that he was an accident that should never have happened. His Dad died of liver disease not so long ago, so it doesn't matter like it used to. When Dad died he didn't feel anything, but his Mum started drinking.
Johnny's grades are slipping because he has problems concentrating in class. All up Johnny isn't very happy with the hand life has dealt him, and if it weren't for the retilin his doctor prescribed, those suicidal tenancies might resurface.
One day, it all becomes too much. The criticism, the bullying, the low grades, and the ever-present thought that it can't get any better than this. Johnny knows where his Dad kept his rifle.
The new breaks. A teenager kills 7 class mates and injures 13 before turning the rifle on himself. Through the confusion the killer is eventually identified. "He was a quiet boy" they would say. "Mostly kept to himself". "He played video games a lot..."
And there it is. He played video games. And before anyone can say "where's the evidence" the media machine runs with it. All anyone knows about this kid is he was quiet, mostly kept to himself, was an average student, and played video games. His entire life summed up in four small statements, one of which stands out as an 'obvious cause'.
My question to you that have politely read this far is: Looking at the real evidence, the truth, should the parents of the victims hold the video game company responsible? Take that as rhetorical if you must.
If you don't feel like answering that question, then try this one. If Johnny never played video games, but listened to Marilyn Manson and other bands labelled by the media as 'satanic', should the parents hold the record labels responsible? I'm sorry it's the same question I know. But you see my point by now?
The point I am trying to get across is: It's easy to point the finger at something that immediately sticks out. But playing video games or listening to rock music doesn't create killers. Underlying psychological problems, be they the result of abuse, neglect, bad parenting, bullying, or a myriad of underlying reasons, creates killers.
If you want something a bit more substantial than my rhetoric, have a look at the childhoods of some of the killers still in living memory. The pictures are not too dissimilar to the one I painted for Johnny Hypothetical.