Violent Video Games Criticised (Again)

Once again, the ill-informed and inarticulate President Donald Trump has condemned “gruesome and violent video games” for contributing to the “glorification of violence” in American society.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which rates video game content and bills itself as the “voice and advocate for the video game industry,” issued a response to Trump’s comments yesterday: “More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide,” a spokesperson for the ESA said. “Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”

It is interesting to note that the Trump administration had previously criticized the video game industry in February 2018 in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting. This is an unfortunate trend: games have shifted from a broad cultural enemy—a gory medium that all types of people might hold responsible for social disgrace—to a political tool, writes Ian Bogost.

Perhaps, instead, Trump needs to – genuinely – consider, the fact the the key difference between the United States and the rest of the game-playing world, is its weapon accessibility. The USA, and its (perhaps outdated) 2nd Amendment states the right to bear arms; for that to be reevaluated now seems too much like taking away its peoples’ possessions.

It is the umbrella term of ‘arms’ that is outdated: automatic weapons capable of mass-murder are readily available alongside the average sidearm that people would consider purchasing for self-defence. The fact that you can walk into Walmart and purchase an assault rifle with your weekly grocery shop is plain wrong: the over-saturation of weapon availability needs to be addressed, ideally by a government with the needs of its own people at heart.

That’s easy for me to say: a British person living without the threat of gun violence plaguing my everyday life. It’s awful to witness a nation such as America fall victim to petty political warfare and ignorance of the highest level actively endangering the lives of its people.

Violent video games have, time and time again been brought up as the cause for mass-shootings. This simply disregards countless studies, academic articles and facts out there that state otherwise. “Researchers have extensively studied whether there is a causal link between video games and violent behavior, and while there isn’t quite a consensus, there is broad agreement that no such link exists. It is a random correlation – as simple as stating that all mass shooters have worn the same brand of shoes, for example, that is blown out of all proportion and pinned as the causal link for the increasing occurrence of violence in America.

According to a policy statement from the media psychology division of the American Psychological Association, “Scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.”

There is a crisis in America that its own administration is choosing to ignore. It picks and chooses a target to pin the blame on – whether that be irrelevant video games, innocent immigrants or otherwise – never once considering to reevaluate their own practices and choose to change from within. The US government has a lot of power, power that they seem (from an outsider’s perspective) to focus on the rest of the world rather than dealing with their own problems first.

Instead of blaming the media, video games or the internet (amongst others), imagine the impact gun restrictions would have.

The world isn’t suggesting the impossible, here, just a bit of common sense regarding gun laws: with the aim to protect the very society that falls victim to them.

#VideoGamesAreNotToBlame