Violence in video games, and what it says about us as consumers

Yes, some video games are violent (or have violent scenes). There I’ve said it. Does that mean we need to overhaul the whole video game industry? Nope.  I find it funny that there are a lot of people (NRA for one) that seem to think that all of the problems we are facing today are the results of people playing Call of Duty, Battlefield and other violent games.  I will not say that there are impressionable youth out there today, because that would be a blatant lie. However, the problem that I do have is that people constantly like to point fingers at how violent something is and not see the whole picture. I will give you two examples.  In the movie Crash, daily stereotypes are played out.  There are stereotypes of how Black, White, Hispanic and West Indian people can see other people and each other. At first glance it is an extremely racist movie, but as you go through the movie it shows you something that you would have missed if you stop and stare at only the top layer.  Another form of media would be books.  There is a book that I was forced to read in high school call To Kill a Mockingbird. This is an another book fraught with racist stereotypes. It has even come under fire recently because of the liberal use of the word “nigger” in the book which is fine with me because the book was written in local color. (The book was based in the 1930 but was published in the 60’s also, local color means it was written how people talked at the time.)  If you were to let that stop you, you’d totally miss the story of a man who was doing something right even though everyone wanted him to not shake things up.   I bring this up because even though games like God of War, Uncharted, Halo and Call of Duty do have a lot of violence in them, there are more to these games than just the pulling of trigger, the killing of an enemy or the taking of life. Some of these games are like great books, have opened up worlds for people to explore that they may never have found anywhere else.   People are all quick to shout out how negative videogames are towards today’s youth because of the violence in them, but I have to say that there are a lot of non violent games out there that people play; some even cause you to think!  How about Tetris, Portal, Quantum Conundrum, and Cut the Rope to name a few.  Also, what about the benefits of playing video games?

Then there’s the other argument which is that video games make people violent.  The Washington Post posed a well written statement against a link between violence and video games. They stated that there was no true correlation between playing video games and violence; in fact they went as far to suggest that the opposite might be true.  Now, to be fair, there was an article from Kotaku which suggest that there could in fact be a correlation between aggression and video games which I could totally agree with. There have been countless times that I’ve thrown my controller in frustration, but I’d like to say that as a competitor,  you get hyped when you doing something intense and it fails. The same happens in other sports (yes I consider playing video games a sport and so does Jet Li) such as basketball, baseball, hockey (I don’t need to even put a link here) , football, soccer. So I don’t understand why this is even an issue. Yes people play/do something and lose a lot, you will get ANGRY, but the amount of people going out and raging on a crowd because they lost their shit doesn’t happen as often as people would try and claim.

Back on topic. Ultimately, I do see an issue with games that are violent just to be violent. (Postal, Carmageddeon, Manhunt, Saints Row) They help to fuel the fight against video games. Nonetheless, what I find to be the biggest issue is the complete lack of parental oversight. I’ve had this discussion with multiple people about the games they let their children play and I  hear them complain about how violent the games are, so I asked. “Why do you let your children play them?” Here’s a story for you. This is a 100% true story. I use to work at a video game retail store and I had a grandmother (in her late 60’s) come in and ask to purchase a game for her grandson. She went to purchase Grand Theft Auto 3. I told her that it would be a bad idea. I informed her of the Mature label on the game and let her know that it was not suitable for children (her grandson was 8). I let her know the content of the game (pimps, guns, blood, hookers, etc) and her answer was to me ,”It’s just a game.” So she ended up purchasing the game. Less than a week later she was back in my store demanding a refund. She proceeded to tell me that she had bought the game and wanted to return it because it was not something a child should play and had she know what the game was about she would not have purchased it.  (she had completely forgotten that I was the one who had sold it to her.)  I reminded her EXACTLY of what I said and I even showed her on her receipt that I did infact sell her the game. She then argued that I never told her about the game and I showed her footage of the sale. (gotta love video cameras) .  I bring this up because there are a lot of parents out there that do this. There are LABEL on the games for a reason, but people just let children do what they want. Everyone is talking about how video games are destroying children. I want to know what child has 60 dollars to get a game? Where did they get the 300 to purchase the console?  Are these things just walking into people’s houses and forcing chirldren to play hours of violent games?  Where are the parents? Oh that’s right. It’s easier to say that Call of Duty warped my child. Not the 40+ hours YOU as a parent let them play without being social with them. Mortal Kombat made your child a murderous person. Not the fact that you allowed your child to play the game in YOUR house, using YOUR electricity with a console that was more than like bought using YOUR money, but I get it. You had no control over that. It was the evil video games that did it.  Maybe the parents should sit down and try and teach children the difference between reality and a video game. It might help. Maybe.

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