Are Video Games Truly To Blame?
The short answer: no. Video games are not the issue and have never nor will be the issue when it comes to real-world murders, massacres and tragedies. As many of you are well aware, with anything in the entertainment department, there's a cult of concerned soccer moms, congregates of Parent-Teacher Associations, and even the occasional radio personality who weigh in on controversial subjects and often either unsuccessfully rally for change or piss and moan until the cows come home. Video games being the prime blame of the senseless killing that occurs in the real world is at the top of that list.
The controversy of violent video games being to blame for real-world happenings is a witchhunt as old as time itself and what I find the most humorous of the entire scenario is that those screaming their lungs out about the "issue" are yet to learn that their voices are doing nothing but annoying those around them. Controversies over video games generally tend to shed light on [excessive] graphic violence, partial or complete nudity, drug and alcohol use, sex and sexism, and naturally, the portrayal of criminal behaviour. Such themes in video games usually garner the attention of focus groups and advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who dropped a weight on Grand Theft Auto IV prior to its release, Parents Television Council, radio personality Glenn Beck and disbarred attorney Jack Thompson, who has filed lawsuits against the makers of violent games, alleging the simulated violence causes real-world violence.
To start us off, I'll analyse a popular video game of its time as well as possibly one of the most publicly controversial video games, Grand Theft Auto IV. As I mentioned above, the now disbarred attorney, Jack Thompson had filed several lawsuits against Rockstar Games and rallied for the prevention of the game's release because of his opinion of the game being a "murder simulator." As such, Thompson stated that he would "take various measures to prevent the sale of the game by Rockstar to minors." On the side of contradictory irony, Thompson had claimed his only goal was to prevent the sale of the game to minors; however, when he was questioned on how exactly he planned to do such, with a given counter-claim that there will always be that parent who doesn't care what their child plays, Thompson decided to try to have the game banned altogether.
Long story short, all Thompson really achieved was pissing off the court enough with his consistent pissing and moaning that they ended up just expelling him, preventing him from practising law henceforth, in a permanent manner of shutting him up. Thompson then exercised his rights as a citizen by attending several unsuccessful protests and the world heard nothing about video games from him since. In 2009, he filed a $40 million lawsuit against Facebook for causing him "great harm and distress" in lieu of the comments made about him by angry members of Facebook groups. He dismissed his lawsuit less than two months later when Facebook responded reminding him of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, which provides that companies such as Facebook have no liability for what users do with their services in most cases.
Now, he's returned to share his unwanted opinion about the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, further blaming video games for the massacre. I'm sure you're dying to know what the best part of it is. The video game under scrutiny was Mass Effect—one of the least violent (in terms of gore and brutality) games in the world, in which you take control of a space-age naval commander as he or she attempts to save the world. Might as well blame it on James Bond then.
At the end of the day, we need to stop giving these people attention. Do not give attention to those going out and committing crimes—don't try and analyse why they did it and what was wrong with them. Just send them to prison and let them serve their sentence—or the death penalty if you prefer—and if they commit suicide after their crime, forget that they existed. Do not give attention to these cows shouting about video games being the problem—anyone with half a brain knows that video games are not to blame.
The fact of the matter is that video games are not the issue. It's people. A video game did not murder anyone at Sandy Hooks. A video game did not shoot passersby with a shotgun on I-95. A video game did not murder moviegoers at the Dark Knight Rises premiere.
Let's wake up and start blaming who's truly to blame: the people committing the crimes.