Every time an act of severe violence occurs and a background story can be found where the perpetrator played violent video games, there are cried by both sides of the “violent video games lead to tragedy” debate. This isn’t an article about which side is right and which side is wrong. This is all about why the discussion simply needs to stop. It’s wasting everyone’s time.
Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was a heavily-addicted player of video games. As a result, there are many who are using it as a rallying cry against violent video games. Of course, the story generates a response from the other side as well. The Guardian took it a step further with a story that says that “scaremongering claims by the mainstream media that video games lead to violent behavior” actually leads to violent behavior. Yes, they’re saying that discussion of the violence allegedly caused by video games leads to more violence than the video games themselves.
Who’s right? It doesn’t matter. Here’s why:
There’s too much money at stake
If Monsanto, the Trilateral Commission, and the RIAA have proven anything, it’s that the presence of enough money exchanging hands between the right people can keep any bad entity up and running indefinitely. It would not be possible to present enough scientific data to compel a change in the mindset of politicians or the gaming industry when it comes to violent games. Grand Theft Auto V generated over $800 million in sales in the first 24 hours after its release.
The mainstream media knows this. They aren’t trying to change the world for the better by promoting studies that point to video games being the culprit in many violent crimes. They know that the topic is a hot one and that people on both sides of the debate are very passionate about their stance. In essence, the debate creates an angle that can generate more pageviews for their publications.
Anyone wasting time on these studies for the right reason are misdirecting their efforts towards a fruitless cause. Education – that may help, but it brings up another challenge…
The players simply won’t have it
They’re stabbing each other to get their hands on these games. Even if you put a ton of effort into educating parents about the potential dangers of violent video game play, they would be hard pressed to keep their kids off the games.
That doesn’t take into account the fact that gaming is no longer a kid thing. There are more 20, 30, and 40+ year old players of game franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed than there are teens playing these games. They certainly won’t be told that they shouldn’t play the games because it may make them more inclined to perform acts of violence.
The naysayers have a point
For every violent person who plays video games, there are millions of non-violent people playing video games. For every act of violence perpetrated by someone who plays violent video games, there are tons of acts of violence perpetrated by people who do not play violent video games.
Some would even argue that violent video games act as a way to subdue violence by giving people an outlet to virtually perpetrate their acts rather than perform them in real life.
Logic works in both directions on this argument. It’s not like smoking cigarettes or drunk driving where there is hard scientific evidence proving that death can occur as a result of these practices. It’s way too grey to make a solid connection.
Call it a stalemate and move on
Nothing can be changed regarding violent video games. No politician would be able to pull it off in Washington. No video game company would be willing to pass up on the opportunity or to try to set a trend.
If by some miracle a real debate would happen that started leaning in this direction, the domino effect of censorship and suppression would begin. What about television and movies? What about alcohol? What about the weapons themselves? What about prescription medications? What about a broken psychological health system? There are simply too many factors in play in today’s society to try to isolate the debate around a single issue.
Let’s call it a stalemate. Those who believe that violent video games cause problems can stop playing them and try to keep their kids from playing them. Those who do not believe in the connection can keep playing them and allow their kids to play them. It’s a frustrating conversation that cannot lead to anything good. In this case, awareness does nothing more than cause further problems.