Do Video Games Kill People? | Fanboys Anonymous

Do Video Games Kill People?

Posted by Sean Mitchell Thursday, January 3, 2013
Of course they don't.

The world was stunned Friday as a gunman decided to lash out at those who couldn't defend themselves. But this article isn't about that tragedy. This is an article aimed towards those who rally against video games in the face of such tragedy. Make no mistakes, the attacks have already begun. As a lifelong gamer, I take these attacks personally. And we all should. Every time some horrible shooting happens, mass media is quick to point to my favorite pass time as being a machine that manufactures murdering sociopaths. Even articles that don't outright attack video gaming feel the need to mention that it was something the shooter had indulged in. That last article casually mentions that the shooter enjoyed playing Dynasty Warriors, making sure that the fact isn't far from the reader's mind.

violent game, shooter, tragedy
Mass Effect has come under fire. And here I thought it was about saving the universe...

A tragedy of this nature is hard for some to cope with. When a killer takes his or her own life, people feel like justice was cheated, and no real closure can be had. This is dangerous. This is when people need to find something else to vilify. Video gaming is still relatively new, and even newer is gaming's presence in mainstream society. There are still those that don't understand gaming as a medium. Those that don't understand can look at the content and draw connections between what is virtual and what is reality. This mindset just serves to create more victims.

video game violence
Nothing makes me want to machine gun the innocent like 200AD Chinese warriors.

Firstly are the obvious ramifications towards the developers. This mob mentality spreads even easier via the internet. Through some less than professional sleuthing, people were led to believe the shooter was a huge fan of Mass Effect, and lashed out in full force. The people at Bioware are no less human than you or I, or those directly involved in the shooting. The logic behind this is baffling. A baseball bat can easily be used to assault another individual, but whenever it happens no one rushes out and screams, "Oh, great job Louisville! Your sturdy wooden blunt objects promote murder, and thus this blood is on your hands!" This sort of thought process can be applied to arms manufacturing and make sense, whether you agree or not, but attacking the game industry is akin to firing into a crowd of bystanders. Many of those involved in game design do so out of a love of creating. To ignorantly tell someone their creation is what caused someone else to destroy is crass.

What seems like an eternity ago, Jack Thompson continuously sought to prove video gaming to be at fault for several different shootings, managed to prove absolutely nothing, and in the end was disbarred. The surmised connection between violence in games and violence in individuals has always been contested. It is easy to find case studies that have findings on both sides of that argument. The idea cannot be conclusively proven, or disproven. It all comes down to speculation. Harassment should never be brought on by mere speculation.

jackass, Jack Thompson, video game lawsuit
Pictured here: an overzealous jackass.

People feel they need something to blame this on because they're scared. The truth can be painful, and in this situation the truth is humanity is no perfect thing. People are born broken, or can become so. There is no set formula to what turns people into murderers. There never will be. It's easy to point at the video game industry and say, "We were all fine until you came along and made murderers." Obviously there have been murderers throughout history. I'm fairly certain Hitler didn't have access to Grand Theft Auto, and his hatred would cause the deaths of millions. The 'games made this happen' mentality will not make anything better. Hypothetically, if you ban games would massacres of this nature disappear? It's impossible to say for certain, but statistically it wouldn't. One could argue that even stricter gun control wouldn't prevent tragedy, as proven by a horrific incident in China where a mentally ill man slashed 20 children. There are some strong similarities between these cases.

The key to stopping this behavior is to work towards a better public image for mental health. Let this be the final straw. Take action. Reform public opinion. Make psychiatry as important as physiology. Being angry is good, use it as motivation to fix things. Pointing the finger isn't fixing anything.

As gamers, maybe it's up to us to take the first steps. In the face of such tragedy we refuse to be bullied by those who claim gaming is a detriment to society.

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