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Video Games and Gun Violence: The Blame Game

By
Posted on December 18, 2012 AT 02:18pm

I want to start off this article by stating that we at DigitalNoob are very saddened by the recent events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their loved ones to such a senseless act. We can’t even begin to comprehend what you are going through but just know that you are in our thoughts.

I am going to tread very carefully in this article because I know this is a very sensitive topic of conversation. As I have been watching the news coverage regarding the shooting in Newtown over the last couple of days, many forms of media have come under fire in response to making sense of the shootings including but not limited to movies, television and, of course, video games. It’s no surprise that games have come under fire when events like this occur. There are plenty of violent video games in the market today that could easily take some of the blame here, but there are also plenty of games and situations that are the complete opposite and help shine the light. I can see both sides of the argument in this situation. I’ll work through my thoughts in the paragraphs below.

On one hand, there’s the situation where video games and the culture of such games is not helping us as a society. Games like Doom, Call Of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto can seem to encourage types of gun violence throughout the United States in recent years. Memorable scenes like walking through an airport checkpoint and executing mass homicide throughout the airport, or random acts of killing in Grand Theft Auto do not seem to help the cause of video games and gun violence.


On the other hand, video games can be extremely helpful through learning processes, research, exercise, and even healing. Citing specific examples, games like Wii Fit, and EA Sports Active encourage people to work out and become a more active person. Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine have created a computer game specifically for children with cancer. And speaking of healing kids, Extra Life, organized back in 2008 is a way for gamers to play video games for a cause. Gamers unite to raise money and play for 24 hours straight honoring the cause of sick children throughout hospitals within the Children’s Miracle Network. Donation proceeds go directly to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of gamers’ choice.

So where do I stand on this issue personally? It’s a tough call, but here’s what I think. To the ESRB‘s (Entertainment Software Rating Board) credit, violent video games are rated ‘M’ for Mature which should prevent sales to kids under the age of 17. To in part this does not always work but it does help prevent the younger generation of children from obtaining games. In order for it to work close to 100% of the time, I would think that it needs to be enforced more thoroughly. But if someone wants to get their hands on a mature video game title, it’s not going to stop them regardless if they are over the age gate or not.

In this case, the shooter (I refuse to mention his name as he should not be heralded) was over the age of 17 so obtaining a video game of such nature would not be an issue for him. However, many media reports suggest that he may have been diagnosed with a type mental disorder or issue. If that’s the case, I believe that studies should be looked at regarding mental health and violent video games. Instances such as this may help prevent another massacre like this from occurring. But however as I mentioned from the violent game perspective – if someone wants to obtain a gun, they’re going to find a way to obtain a gun regardless of what kind of health condition they may or may not have. As a country, we have a long way to go regarding mental health. Maybe a study like this could be beneficial as well for overall growth, and development.

Regardless of what I believe, and what other people may believe, I think we all can agree that these shootings have to stop. Instead of the media pointing fingers at the film, television, and video game industries, we need to focus our energy on how these entertainment venues have a reaction on someone who may have mental health issues rather than pointing fingers around. 20 young and innocent children had their lives taken away far too soon. Knowledge is power, and in this situation, the more we know about ourselves, the more we can prevent a tragedy like this from happening so often in our country.

Albert Perkins is one of the journalists writing for DigitalNoob, and also co-hosts & produces The Weekly Beat Podcast on DigitalNoob. Away from gaming you can find Albert watching sports, television, movies, and regularly being the jokester & punch line amongst his friends. You can follow him on Twitter @AlbertPerkins.


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