UNITED STATES—This is something that has been discussed for years, and I mean years dating back to my early childhood. After the recent shooting that transpired in Jacksonville, Florida at a gaming event, it raises the question if video games are indeed dangerous. A crazed man, after being eliminated from the competition grabs a gun and shoots and kills two people, and then turns the gun on himself. It is indeed excruciating to hear about another mass shooting that has transpired in America.
For years, there have been ratings on video games. I would make the argument that the rating system really did not come into fruition until the early 90s, when the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were unleashed to gamers. Why is this critical? Well, you have video games that were taken to the next level; the graphics were much improved and the storytelling and the allure of games were beginning to shift. What do I mean by this?
The envelope was being pushed in the video game arena, notably by the level of violence made prevalent by the franchise “Mortal Kombat.” It was a game unlike any other game and the level of violence was quite blunt and this was not a game that many people could purchase if you were under age. The retailers were adamant about ensuring the game did not fall into the wrong hands. So I am not going to sit here and tell you that video games are all dangerous, because with all honesty I do not believe that to be true.
However, I will say there are shooter games and games of excessive violence that are desensitizing audiences. Violence is second nature to many people nowadays, we don’t see the actual harm of it day in and day out because we’re watching it 24/7 on the constant news cycles on TV, in print and online. The argument that I must make is that playing video games nonstop without some sort of social interaction is problematic.
This is not to say that everyone who plays games nonstop without socially interacting, are violent and are dangerous to the world. That is fake news and I will not perpetuate such an ideology. I think video games are actually a good thing for most people because in essence they cause the player to think and focus on strategy. Strategy is good in everyday life; it allows you to think about ways to rationalize situations and what can be done to get yourself out of sticky situations where various outcomes could transpire. This is most certain with role playing and adventure games, but I would make this argument with all video games, but the overly violent ones like the shooter games and fighting games, that is another question.
The world of video games has turned so many kids less social nowadays. I recall growing up as a kid in the 80s the thought of going outside was something we did all the time. We played video games, but it was quite limited. We would spend 8-10 hours outside on most days, especially during the weekend. During the weekday, at least 4-5 hours, and then spend a few years gaming. This was more likely when a new video game was unleashed or a new gaming system was unleashed.
There are things that need to be done to address the level of violence in games, but if we do that we have to address the level of violence in the news, in movies, in music, the list goes on and on. This becomes quite problematic because we run into the issue of censorship, which will cause all types of ire from the American public. I do believe this is an issue that goes back to parenting.
Parents have to monitor what their kids are doing and this also becomes of importance for those who may be suffering from mental health issues. Those who are suffering from mental health issues could utilize gaming as a way of ‘acting’ out if they are not being treated for their illness. This is not to say that anyone who suffers from mental illness will utilize gaming as a tool of violence, you cannot make that claim because it’s reckless and dangerous.
Point blank we need to have a discussion about violence in America, not only related to gaming, but to all aspects of culture. We cannot continue to sweep the issue under the rug. Let’s address it so we can make adjustments to it.
Written By Kelsey Thomas