The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Violence and video games

2 min read
When an act of public violence gains publicity in America, there is usually a wave of finger-pointing, trying to determine the “cause.”

videogamecontrollerBy ADAM STERGIS

A common scapegoat is the entertainment industry. Movies, musicians and video games all come under fire as accused factors in acts of violence. Recently, a man in London was knifed in the back and robbed of his copy of the newly released video game “Grand Theft Auto V” upon its midnight release.

This may invoke flashbacks to the mid 1990’s, when video games such as “Mortal Kombat” and “Doom” were subject to criticisms of being too violent for children. However, millions of people play these games. The fact that unstable individuals commit acts of violence and are fans of games such as these is purely coincidental.

In the case of children being too young to play such games, it is really the responsibility of parents to learn the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings before buying their child a game, as they explicitly state what sort of content the player will be exposed to.

In a Forbes article, Erik Kain raises the point that analysts predict “Grand Theft Auto V” will sell 18 to 20 million copies worldwide by March 2014. If such a video game was responsible for gun violence, then there would be 20 million additional killers in the world, solely because of a video game’s influence. This is clearly an unrealistic correlation. Video games are a multimedia powerhouse, and if millions of people imitated every moderately mature game they played, the world would be exponentially more violent than it already is.

Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez wrote in the Huffington Post that children only get one initial set of lessons, and the notion of it is just a game is far too naïve in modern American society.

They go on to say that parents must re-evaluate the violent signals they are allowing their children to be exposed to.

Surely, every child that plays a game with a gun in it will not be driven to gun violence, but if the parents are concerned, then they should pay more attention to the content of the product their children spend hours invested in.

It is not a black-and-white issue that can be blamed solely on video games and their developers.

The population of people that play video games is colossal, and parents need to wait for their children to be of appropriate age before buying them games with guns and torture while they are still much too young to fully understand what is happening on the screen in front of them.