Culture

On gaming and gun violence (Pt. 1)

goldeneye

In response to the recent resurgence of scapegoat blaming video games for the various gun violence tragedies across the U.S., Johnny Coconate has some things to say.

I wish I didn’t have to do this. It’s the 21st century people; video games should not be blamed for making kids want to kill people. Last time I checked, guns kill people and video games entertain people. Turns out 100% of people that are shot were shot by guns, not video games. Crazy, right? And unless someone’s killed somebody by strangling them with a controller cord, beating them with a console or cutting them with a broken game disc, I don’t think video games have ever been used to kill anybody. Yet here we are once again, blaming video games instead of guns.

A favorite of gun defenders is the argument that “blaming guns for killing people is like blaming pencils for misspelling words,” which is a great argument if your brain is working at 3% of its total ability. Equating a misspelled word with a dead human being is a terrible fucking thing to do. Misspelled words can be erased and fixed, but you can’t reverse time and stop yourself from pulling the trigger. So stop using that argument. More focus needs to be put on the people carrying out the crime, such as the news media going in-depth about mental illness instead of body counts and survivor stories. But I don’t see the NRA or any Republicans willing to donate money or not cut spending on mental health. They just want to play scapegoat, which they’ve been doing for two presidential elections now, which is why they lost last year and will continue to lose. If you don’t deal with the real problem, then you’re just procrastinating, and as a Jedi fucking Master at procrastinating, let me tell you that the problem only gets worse.

By blaming video games again, we’re back to dancing around the real problem, which I believe is first and foremost mental health and stability, but also gun control. Yes, people should be blamed the most; they are after all the ones that carried out said crimes with guns. But that’s what guns do: they kill. Guns are weapons made for the sole purpose of killing, but that doesn’t mean they have to fulfill that destiny. Think about all the guns in the world. They’re not being fired right now, because otherwise you’d probably hear it. If shooting at a range makes you happy, you should be allowed to pursue that, because the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. I’m fine with people hunting, as long as they have permits and aren’t hunting something endangered. However, hunters shouldn’t be using assault rifles to hunt. One shot, one kill: that’s what a hunter’s motto should be. Not “empty a clip and hope I hit it.” Hunting is supposed to be a sport which requires skill, rules and a sense of honor. Remove the three and you’re left with a bunch of morons overkilling a deer for no reason. There’s killing for sport and killing for food. Killing something just for the sake of killing is serial killer behavior and needs to be treated quickly.

Now to defend the new scapegoat on the block: video games. The first time I played a first person shooter was in the 90s with GoldenEye 007 on N64. Since then I’ve played many a first person shooter. I have not at any point shot and killed anybody, nor do I plan to, even though I consume mass amounts of violent entertainment. Blaming video games for making mass murderers is like blaming Nickelback for the extinction of the dinosaurs; there is no way in hell they’re connected, and just because you don’t like and/or understand something doesn’t mean you should blame it for causing something else. Blaming video games for making our culture more violent? Are you shitting me? Open up a history book and turn to any page, and you’ll wind up with a group of people killing another. Humans were violent long before the invention of video games, film, music, the written word, and probably oral language. Video games as art/entertainment (a longer discussion in and of itself) are a part of our culture, a culture which has been violent for a long time.

If anything, our culture has made video games violent. Games surely didn’t start out violent, but when they got there the money started coming and they stayed there. Has that made us numb to violence? I wish. I feel we’re only numb to strangers getting hurt/killed, because we know nothing about them until we see a piece on the news and lower our heads for the 30 seconds the piece runs. I think it’s always been this way, though. Sure there are stories of strangers helping strangers, but that’s only in times of crisis and disaster. And it’s still not enough. We remember the name of the disaster or murderer instead of the victims. Take, for example, Guinness World Record holder Vasili Blokhin, a Soviet executioner who killed 7,000 Polish POWs in 28 days in 1940, at a rate of one prisoner every three minutes. What video games was he playing? Maybe he was reading comic books or listening to that devil music? Or maybe he was sick. What would you call someone who does such a thing?

  • http://www.facebook.com/barrypetersen2 Barry Daniel Petersen II

    I’ve heard a lot of good arguments in defense of video games. Why is it that Canadians, who are provided with similar media, commit less acts of violence (http://badassdigest.com/2013/01/23/roger-corman-asks-why-video-games-dont-make-canadians-more-violent/)? What exactly is different from how we’re treating the scapegoat of video-games any differently than other scapegoats in the past? (http://kotaku.com/5975124/comic-books-disastrous-self+censorship-offers-a-lesson-for-games-publishers-too?tag=violent-video-games) Then there’s always the, “we’ve already done this, move on” approach (http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/what-quentin-tarantino-can-teach-us-about-how-to-handle-the-violence-in-gam).

    When talking about violence in video games, it’s easy to take the bait and get on our soap-boxes. Someone hates our stuff, so, we go and tell them to stfu, and stuff it back in their faces. “Hey, you don’t like video games? Well gun legislation is _____”. But I’m going to admit, I don’t know enough about gun legislation to make an educated opinion of how, exactly, it should be legislated. I mean, I’ve heard some shady tales about what’s on the books, and I’m definitely not saying that an educated look at the current legislation shouldn’t be in order- but I’m not the educated body to be the one to determine good from ill, and frankly, that’s not the issue at stake.

    What we need to do is stop pushing the blame along, answer for ourselves, and stuff it. Video games are a bigger threat than guns in gun violence claims? What piece of horseradish is that? If I’m thinking of a situation where there’s an issue of gun violence, I can think of exactly three things that can be altered to mitigate the damage: the attacker, the weapon, and the victim (and what that entails… surroundings, security, protection, training, etc). That we have allowed a public discourse that even speaks on the matter that somehow, video games is a component in that situation, is absurd, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

    But after moving video games (and for that matter, violent movies, loud music, any of this. If we expect to stand strong in any one department, we need to stand strong for the lot of them) outside the equation, we have to admit to the audience that we don’t know a damn thing about the for reals statistics that affect these gun violence situations, and step out of the way. Going into this with our uneducated opinions make people take us less seriously, and open us back to rebuts that shouldn’t be happening. We’re allowing the conversation to continue when it was idiotic to have begun in the first place.

    And, if we are gonna entertain the conversation, let us at least direct it to the matters at hand: Maybe violent video games aren’t the cause of violent individuals. But maybe we shouldn’t be advertising brand-names on our way to make a buck (http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-01-shooters-how-video-games-fund-arms-manufacturers). Maybe we need to have a good long conversation about how school shooting coverage mostly occurs in predominantly white, relatively wealthy neighborhoods, when gang violence causes shootings to happen with some frequency in many inner city schools. Maybe we should continue that ‘media causing violence’ conversation to include all the hype and reaction that the news media attracts to people who feel abandoned by the general culture, and would desire having the whole world’s eye on them for a month-going-on-two.

    What we should not be doing, however, is continuing the scapegoat game. We start out with good intentions, but it ends up being like a game of telephone, where everyone comes out with the wrong message.