Last week, I wrote about how I’m learning to drive in real life but my parents are scared that I’ll be bad at it since I’m an extremely reckless driver in Grand Theft Auto Online. They have it in their heads that I’ll carry over that recklessness into real life. Why? Well, because… I didn’t know why. So I did something to understand their way of thinking: I asked them.
They said they think that, since I do these crazy things in the game, I’ll think it’s okay to do it in real life. I paused for a bit and contemplated what they said. Then, after a moment, I took a deep breath and said, “Don’t worry. I know the difference between a game and the real world.” I did understand their concern but I honestly think their thought process is way off base.
Still, they told me that it is possible to think it was okay to do them because, whenever there’s some kind of school shooting or some senseless mass killing, a lot of media outlets immediately ask if the perpetrators played any kind of violent video games in the past. They just told me be be aware of it. While I did reassure them that I would, I still think that, just because I perform something in a game, that doesn’t mean I’ll be re-programmed to be a violent psychopath in the future.
For one thing, I think my parents raised me to know the difference between right and wrong. So, as much as possible, I always try to do the wrong thing. I’m no angel, of course. I will go to the Dark Side once in a while but I would do it if I think if it’s for the “greater good” or if no one would get hurt. I truly don’t like people getting hurt; I actually cringed when my brother had to go through the torture segment in the story mode of Grand Theft Auto V. Now that I’m playing it myself from the start, I actually cringe at the thought that I’ll have to do it. Yes, the “victim” is just a bunch of polygons but I still don’t like the idea to doing that kind of thing to another living being.
Whenever the news find out that some crazy bastard who went on a killing spree played video games, they immediately blame it. Why? I think a majority of people play video games nowadays. All of my friends play video games. And not just my male friends, either! Practically all of my girl friends play a game where it involves killing another living creature! And what game would that be? Well…
Angry Birds is an extremely violent game if you think about it. Imagine: you control a bunch of suicidal birds and fling them at structures with the aim of killing little green pigs! It’s generally known as cartoony fun but I don’t think that, if some kid attempts to shoot himself out of a giant slingshot, this game would be blamed. They’ll just think that the kid is stupid for copying a video game! Unfortunately, realistic video games don’t get a free pass.
So, why do a lot of people, including smart people like my parents, believe that playing violent video games will cause real life violence? Well, to be honest, it seems to make sense. Monkey see, monkey do and all that. Like that old timey movie A Clockwork Orange (had to watch it for school but that’s another story), it’s a popular belief that we can be programmed by viewing things over and over again.
But I don’t think the rule applies to normal people. I’m not discounting the possibility for a person to change his or her behavior patterns if he or she views something often enough. I’m saying that it’s going to be very difficult to do! That person may have to eat, sleep and breathe the same violent video game everyday for a year! But that just will never happen to normal people. Even hardcore gamers will get tired of playing the same game and clean their palette with another game.
How about those who are not normal? The media can definitely blame video games for giving them the idea, right? Well, yes. I do have to concede to that point. But, since they’re not normal, it’s kind of hard to predict what would have set them off in the first place! I mean, they could watch the news and see violent images there and that gives them the idea to go on a rampage in the city, right?
I think it’s just easy to blame video games because it’s an easy out. It’s a quick and simple explanation to all of the bad things that happen in the world and not look deeper into the issues society is facing in general. There are violent movies and television shows, frightening images in comics, hateful lyrics in music and even books depicting evil acts. I think video games, being the youngest of all media, was picked on since most people needed to blame something new.
Anyway, I think I ranted enough about violence. I think next time I’ll rant about something else close to my heart: how females are depicted in video games!
What about you? What are your thoughts about video games and real life violence? Do they correlate? Or is it just all a smokescreen? Leave your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below!