Violence in video-games and the effect it has on impressionable young minds, has been a heated topic of conversation ever since the first digital antagonist met his untimely end at the hands of a child. Starting all the way back when games looked like this:
It has always been a topic of great controversy There are many people that believe that violent video-games desensitize the player to the violent acts they are committing in the game and, even worse, that these games REWARD them for committing them. They argue that the games distort the player’s ability to determine right from wrong and that they will become more likely to commit violent acts in real life as a result.
I would like to submit that these arguments are complete bullshit.
First of all, let me be very clear about one point straight out of the gates. I have been playing video-games my entire life, a great many of them that would be considered violent, and I can confidently say that violent video-games have not made me into a violent person… although one might argue that video-games in general, have made me into a violent person. There really does not need to be any intentional violence of any kind in the game for it to make my blood boil.
I could be playing a game wherein you control Winnie the Pooh, the goal of the game is to make everyone love you, and you ultimately win by hugging every creature in the Hundred Acre Wood, but if the game is… frustratingly difficult, I will curse like a drunken sailor, with Tourettes Syndrome, who just got their hand stuck in a wood-chipper.
But… and I want you to pay close attention to this part… that doesn’t mean that I am going to track down the game developers, and their families, and beat them to death with a honey-pot. I cannot lie… I have broken my fair share of inanimate objects in fits of video-game-induced rage. One time, after a particularly frustrating experience, I smacked my drink off my desk… that may not sound so bad, but unfortunately for me, my drink was in an actual glass which instantly exploded into a hundred razor-sharp shards, a few of which angrily pierced the offending palm that was attacking them. As fate would have it, immediately after I did this, Karrie (my girlfriend at the time) called me, and I had to rush her off the phone because my cupped hand was rapidly filling with blood while she was talking.
I also, once, punched a monitor with my High School ring on. It didn’t end well for the monitor… or the ring.
It’s true… these were pretty aggressive acts… but they were not against people, nor was there ever any danger of such. But… it has also been argued that “immersion” is the key to unlocking your inner rage-monster. So, apparently, my failure to act violently is because Pooh Bear isn’t realistic enough to make me BELIEVE it’s real.
The implication that game immersion somehow causes a game player to magically absorb a set of values (good or bad) is… well… the kindest words I can come up with are: “fucking retarded”. The argument here is that, since users are encouraged to commit violent acts with their own hands, in a world that SEEMS real, they will somehow transfer this mechanic into the real world.
Well.. until we construct “The Matrix”, and plug our brains directly into it, arguments over immersion, in my not-so-humble opinion, are moot. We all know what we are seeing isn’t real, no matter how realistic the graphics look to us. Our brains pick out differences that, at the time, seem subtle but, in hindsight, aren’t really very subtle at all. Here, let’s use a single long-lived game series as an example. Castle Wolfenstein:
It’s hard to believe, I know, but with each release these graphics were believed to be AMAZING. 10-years later they look as if they were drawn with crayon, 20-years later it’s like the artist was drawing on a moving bus, and 30-years later it’s like that bus was on a bumpy road. I have no doubt that the same will be said in 10 years for games that we are looking at today. Reality is a tough goal to chase, believe me.
Now that I have made my arguments, let me say something that seems to contradict them.
Children should not be allowed to play violent video-games.
That’s right. Just because I don’t believe there is a connection between violent video-games and actual physical violence doesn’t mean I let my kids play games that are rated for adults. That would be idiotic. There is a reason that games have an ESRB rating on them, after all. And… If you have strong opinions about the effect something has on children, and yet you completely ignore a system that is meant to help you keep that thing out of children’s hands… well, then, yeah… you’re an idiot.
Case in point… In a recent Harris Poll, 58% of parents surveyed believe there is a connection between violent video-games and actual violence. And, 33% of parents surveyed “let their kids play whatever they want”. Sure, there is a possibility that there is no overlap in these two stats, but… how much would you like to bet that there is? In either case, this leads me to my point… Violent video-games are not the problem. Children that play them are not the problem. The problem is that…
…most parents are morons.
Yeah, I have said it before, and I will say it again. The search for the root cause of your children’s problems is over. Look in the mirror, asshole. You are responsible for your children and ALL of their actions, not teachers, not movies, not video-games… YOU. Stop being a whiny bitch and take control. You have no excuse, I do not care what your situation is, you can always make time to raise your own damn children.
To these parents that want to blame video-games for their own incompetence at raising children, I have a simple message… Keep your damn hands off my video-games. I have a honeypot, and I am not afraid to use it.