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Another shooting happens in America and right away news outlets sensationalize the massacre, hoping to get the highest ratings possible. It doesn’t help that the number one videogame in the country at the time was a game that allowed you to shoot random people from across the globe. Gamers knew what this would lead to of course, cries of violent video games training the killer and ,”How can we let our children be witness to the type of violence that is perpetrated in video games?”
Well, if you’re a responsible parent, you probably won’t have to worry about any of that since every video game on the market is labeled with a rating that suggests whether or not the video game is appropriate for children. However, even if you are a responsible parent, it’s almost impossible for a child not to come into contact with a mature game through videos, advertisements, or a friend who may just happen to own the game.
So how do we stop our children from coming into contact with these violent video games and their mature themes? You really can’t. They’re humans with free will and will take the chance to play the games they want to whether you like it or not. Well, you could always lock your child away from the rest of the world and hope and pray that they never play a violent video game in their life. Of course if you were to do that, your child would probably end up being even worse of a freak than if they played violent video games.
So what do you do? How about actually talking to your kids about the violence in the videogames that they play and explain to them that it’s all fantasy. Tell them that while their shooting games may be fun, in real life hurting people like that only causes suffering. I know it may feel awkward talking to your 11 year-old about violence in videogames, but talking to a kid on the same level as you would an adult can make a real difference on their outlook on life.
As a gamer, I’ve always been one to defend video games whenever they would come under attack in the media. This was always simple to do because, for the most part, most news outlets don’t know anything about video games. They’ll get facts wrong and outright lie about different things just to get some kind of reaction out of people. When the Columbine shootings happened people like Jack Thompson were just trying to find scapegoats for what happened, and the video game industry was still young and foreign enough that most people would accept what they were being told. (The same thing happened to comic books and heavy metal.)
Remember when Doom was labeled as a murder simulator?
However, the video game industry is no longer young and can’t hide behind the idea that it’s some underground hobby. It’s now a billion dollar industry with a fan base that stretches across the globe. Some have wondered whether or not the gaming community’s hesitation to have an open conversation on the matter is actually hurting our representation in the media. In many ways it’s much like the NRA declaring that it’s too soon to have a conversation on the matter and waiting for America forget what happened. (Which America eventually always does.) However, what is there to talk about?
Adam Lanza played video games! Okay. Adam Lanza played violent video games! Okay. Adam Lanza learned how to shoot from video games! That’s a lie, but okay. Video games are the reason for all those deaths in Newton, Connecticut! No, they’re not. There is literally nothing that can be learned from an open conversation on the topic of violent video games. Even though I want to know why this massacre happened, I know that nothing can be solved by just speculating about what was going on in Adam Lanza’s head. The reason being that no one actually knows what was going on in Adam Lanza’s head.
People can bring up games like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Gears of War and just about every other M-rated game out there, but in reality there is nothing that can prove that these games made Adam Lanza shoot those children. Studies have shown that playing videogames can raise aggression in people, but so do things like sports and music.
The only thing that we can really learn from Adam Lanza is that he wasn’t mentally all there. More than just being a loner, more than having Aspergers, more than being a gamer. He was a disturbed guy who decided to hurt others before he took his own life. Complaining about violence in videogames won’t change that.