Ever since the medium was founded, it seems people have been obsessed with trying to tie video games to real life violence. It happened in the 90s, where Mortal Kombat got criticised for its gory fatalities and violent fighting moves. It happened in the 00s, where games like Grand Theft Auto III were major targets of people like Jack Thompson, an angry lawyer who seemingly thought violent games were behind everything wrong with society. And even in the early 10s, it seems we’ve had people complaining about the likes of Hatred on the assumption it’ll turn video games into violent sociopaths.
But you’d think this whole idiocy would have died down by now, right?
After all, Jack Thompson isn’t even a lawyer any more (he got disbarred due to his unprofessional actions in court). Multiple generations have now grown up playing games (whereas before, adults who hadn’t played them didn’t understand the medium at all). And Christian pastors complaining about games and Satanism have mostly fallen by the wayside.
So it’s got to be better now, right?
Well no. Sadly you’d be wrong there. Because now even with whole generations of kids and adults having grown up with video games and titles like Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto being around for decades, people are STILL blaming real life acts of violence on video games.
For example, look at this Time Magazine article. Just a few days after a poor man was kidnapped and tortured for multiple days, you’ve got a writer blaming it on video games. Oh sure it was. Forget the shouts of “Fuck Trump” and “fuck white people” you could clearly hear in the background. Forget those obvious signs and how they pointed to a politically motivated attack inspired by the growing political polarisation in the United States.
Oh no, it has to be video games.
What’s more, they even thought GamerGate had something to do with it! Yeah, you try and figure that one out folks. The organisation the media is calling ‘right wing’ inspired anti Trump violence.
And that’s only one example of this stupidity. Remember that terrorist attack in Munich a few months back?
The German Minister of Interior blamed that on video games and ‘violent videos on the net’. You know, despite ISIS taking responsibility? Despite it being very clear that Islamic extremism was the motivation?
But no. They blamed on games again.
Just like Actor Tyson Beckson, who claimed games were responsible for police shootings. Apparently racism is too obvious a cause here. Or something.
It goes on and on. Remember that horrific crime where Dylan Roof murdered a bunch of innocent church goers because he was a racist scumbag? Some journalist thinks video games were to blame there too. WSBTV thought GamerGate was responsible for one shooting.
And it just doesn’t make any sense. I mean, it’s obvious that gaming isn’t really the cause for any of this. Every story was tied to political extremism, religious extremism or bigoted hatred instead.
I mean, if someone clearly goes around shouting that they want to kill the infidels for their deity of choice, they’re not venting about the time they lost in Call of Duty. They’re not saying that Mario Kart’s Blue Shell sent them over the edge.
They’re saying they’re a religious nutcase who was indoctrinated by an evil doomsday cult. It’s blatantly obvious.
And that sort of thing has been the case for every terrorist incident or act of violence in recent history. It’s never been a guy turning into a psycho after playing too much Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, it’s been someone who’s been someone with extreme political or religious views trying to kill those they hate.
Yet everyone always seems to be looking for another scapegoat. It’s like the press just can’t stand the idea that religious or political ideas might be responsible for violence in the world. It’s like there’s an invisible rule saying ‘don’t ban religious extremism for crimes or terrorist attacks’. As if they can’t tell the difference between a normal person with religious beliefs and a roving lunatic wanting to kill people in the name of their god.
Which is made more depressing by how terrible video games are as a target here anyway. I mean, how many wars and mass riots have been caused by video games in your lifetime?
None. Zero. Zilch.
There’s been one war supposedly set off by a football match gone wrong. Riots at sports games and music concerts are a moderately common occurrence. And there was apparently some mass hysteria when people believed a War of the Worlds radio drama was an actual alien invasion (though nowhere near as much as people believed).
But video games? Nothing. Not one war, riot or incident of mass violence/panic has been set off by a video game. No terrorists or serial killers have cited video games as the cause of their attacks, and almost all facts show the number of violent crimes decreasing after games were introduced rather than increasing as you might otherwise expect.
So why would they be a cause of violence? Fiction causing violence is simply a non factor on a statistical level.
So let’s stop blaming games for violence, and instead focus on the actual causes of such atrocities. Because at the end of the day, far more violence is caused by religious and political factors than it is by someone being inspired by what’s on their PlayStation or Xbox.