Recent events have lead certain groups of ignorant adults and politicians to drag the issue of violence in video games into the spotlight… again. We see it time and time again when violence and children are in the same headline. Like most Americans, the American media are lazy and like to take the easy path to blaming video games in the wake of tragic events. Unfortunately and inconveniently, the root cause of the violent acts that seem to frequent our TVs and other media are much more complicated than we would like.
My generation was and has been exposed to violent video games especially in our most developmental years. We have seen it all. I remember the first video game controversy when Mortal Kombat hit the store shelves. It helped spawn the ESRB which was created to keep retailers from selling violent video games to young people. From my personal experience It’s hard to say if the ESRB has been succesful because I can count the number of parents that actually know what the ESRB even is on one hand. Like most Americans, parents of American children are lazy. Seeing a trend yet?
Another thing that my generation grew up with was the internet. The internet unleashed a whole new kind of threat to kids. The savvy kids in those days (I like to think I was one of them) quickly realized we could get access to just about anything we wanted. So, guess what we did. That’s right we looked at anything and everything. Eventually we went looking for real violence. I saw footage of people dying. I saw gruesome acts of dismemberment, suicides, and other violent acts.
There is a huge difference between seeing real violence and seeing it in a video game. I have seen both and you don’t forget the real violence. It sticks with you forever. I will always remember the shock I felt and the overwhelming weight of mortality that washed over me in the wake of the experience. The shear gravity is unshakable. I imagine that if you are a disturbed individual you don’t feel those feelings. If you are emotionally detached you probably don’t see a difference between real violence and video game violence. The truth of the matter is that these people have existed before video games ever came along and they are obviously still around. That is the real problem. We should be asking ourselves how to recognize these kinds of people and get them the help that they need.
I know how easy it is to blame video games. I also understand parents who feel helpless in a violent world. You can’t help but be fearful for your children when you know what horrors await them in the real world. All you can really do is prepare them. Don’t hide them and keep them from the inevitable. The shock they experience can only get worse the longer you hold them back. Teach them right and wrong. Keep them grounded firmly in reality so that they know the difference between real violence and animated violence. Let’s be smart about these next steps, America.
Remember guns don’t kill children, psychopaths kill children.
Author: Jonathan P. Niess (Jonnydem)