The Blame Game
On Valentine’s Day, a terrible tragedy struck a Florida high school. A teenage gunman shot and killed 17 people, wounding numerous others. Some time has passed, and people are calling for government officials to step up and fix the ever-increasing problem of gun violence. However, instead of addressing the problem directly, some officials are passing the blame around to everything but the actual cause of violence. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin holds one boogeyman to be responsible: Video games.
In an interview, Bevin explains, “Guns are not the problem. There are video games, that yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them, that celebrate the slaughtering of people.” He goes on further to compare video games to “pornography” that “desensitizes” people to basic human decency. According to Bevin, guns have always been around. When he was a child, kids would bring guns to school to show off. Only now is violence spreading across America. Therefore, he concludes, the problem is not access to guns but video games.
Stating the Facts
It is true that guns have been around since America’s inception. Video games, on the other hand, have been fully around since about the ’80s. In the past 40 years, the amount of guns in the USA has nearly doubled. Analysts have found that an increase in firearms leads to an increase in homicide cases. While some video games are admittedly violent in nature, multiple studies can find no conclusive evidence linking video games and violence together. As a matter of fact, evidence points to video games being a cathartic element that reduces violence for a time.
Secondly, Bevin states that children play violent video games and there exists no solution to stop them. This disregards the protocol of many corporations when it comes to ESRB ratings. For example, Gamestop employees are required to ID check anyone who attempts to purchase a rated M title. Even with a proper ID, an older sibling or friend cannot buy a mature title for a younger party. A parent must make the purchase. If a parent is purchasing for their child, the employee must read the warning label and clearly express what makes the content rated M. After ID checking and giving a warning, the employee must ask one final time if the customer wishes to buy the product. It is up to parental discretion on whether they wish to buy the mature title for their child. If the child plays such games, that is the parent’s responsibility, not the video game with the very clear warning label.
While gun violence in America is a problem not likely to resolve itself anytime soon, people must be mindful of misinformation. Video games have matured greatly since their inception. They are now finally being recognized as a respected art-form. It’s time to stop pointing fingers at imaginary monsters and start fixing real ones.
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