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There have been a lot of stories regarding violence in the news recently.  Violence always seems to grab our attention and rivet us.  Violence, it seems, sells almost as well as sex these days.

However, whenever the analysts begin coming out of the woodwork and throwing their expert opinions around the same blame game begins.  We, as human beings, need it to be someone’s or something’s fault when things go awry.  And, in the case of violence, the experts point their accusing finger at media in general, and often video games in particular.  The cried against violent movies and television programming ring out loud, but against video games the discourse can become the equivalent of an oratory riot.

I have heard invective slung by the likes of Jack Thompson calling video games everything, up to and including “murder simulators.”  But, every time he, and other rabid anti-game advocates, speaks out it amounts to wanting to lay blame.  Columbine?  Well, didn’t they play Quake. 9/11?  Weren’t they using Microsoft Flight Simulator to practice?  Every time there is a tragedy involving violence a segment of society immediately rushes to find a video game connection.

Is there a problem with violence in our society?  I would argue there is.  For evidence you need look no further than Chicago considering calling in the National Guard to help with an escalating murder rate.  Have we become desensitized to violence?  A good argument could be made for this fact.  When something like this can happen, man’s inhumanity to man has definitely clicked up another notch.  But where can we lay the blame?  I am not so naive as to believe that violence in games, movie, and TV have no impact.  Of course they do.  But, I think the real crisis we have at this point stems from two sources.

First, I believe that many parents have abdicated their responsibilities to parent.  Can exposure to violent media of any type be harmful?  Absolutely, if the mind being exposed is not mature enough to distinguish reality and fantasy with enough granularity.  I have seen on many occasions parents giving to their children games clearly marked for Mature audiences, movies rated R, and the like.  The rating systems in place are there for a reason.  They are there to help parents determine what is appropriate.  They can’t do that if ignored.  Parents should know what their kids are watching and playing.  Better yet, they should be watching and playing with them.  Parenting, in many, many cases, needs to be taken much more seriously.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is the fact that we are creating generations who never really learn to think.  They become drones who will do what their told and never question why.  This may make schools easier to control, bt it has a glaring side-effect.  Those who cannot think critically for themselves are subject to suggestion.  And, if Billy is doing it, or that celebrity is doing it, or that politician is doing it, it must be right.  We need to get back to teaching our children to think.  We need to stop trying to fit everyone into nice neat boxes.  People are not nice and neat, we are messy and unpredictable.  These are good traits because it means we have enough intellect and cognizance to apply the principles we are taught rather than being turned into sheep who do what we are told without question.

Violence is a complex problem.  It needs a complex solution.  There isn’t any single source to blame, we are all guilty to some degree.

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3 Comments

  1. I am horrified to read the article about no one helping the the Good Samaritan. It is wrong for people to not want to help because someone is homeless or different from them.

    I then read the article about the “murder simulators”. I think it is wrong to blame a single source for violence. The person being interviewed, Jack Thompson, made a comment to me that stood out. Quote “Kids took guns to school for 200 years in this country without turning them on one another.” The difference in those 200 years, was the education of gun use. This is something that has fallen to the wayside. I can put another correlation out there, binge drinking in this country vs the rest of the world. All over the world alcohol is a part of everyday life. Children are brought up with it, taught to respect it, and there for do not necessarily abuse it. The same can be held of everything else. The bottom line is that parents need to be involved and parents need to be able to parent. Too many cases a parent may feel they are powerless to do anything for fear of someone calling the police on the for what they think they saw or heard.

    At any rate I am rambling and on a soapbox, I will step down now.

  2. I think its a dualistic responsibility. I am a a gamer myself and would hardly call them “murder simulators”. It is a parents responsibility to parent their children. I also think that the video game industry does need to think about the neccesity of violence in media. As a director I am acutley aware that there is a certain responsibility to market appropriate material to appropriate audience.

    • I agree. But, to me the video game industry did a fairly good job self-regulating when the ESRB was formed and they began putting ratings on games. Video games aren’t appropriate for everyone. While I would have no problem letting a kid play Super Mario Bros. or Animal Crossing, I certainly wouldn’t put the controller in their hand for Grand Theft Auto or even Final Fantasy.

      Do they go over the top soemtimes? Yes. But, that’s when they get slapped with a rating they may not like. They end up with similar processes to the movie studios. If they end up with that AO (Adults Only) rating then they have to go back and retool to get it down to Mature or Teen the same way a movie studio will edit to make sure they get that PG-13 rating.


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