Before I start off, I’m going to give myself a self-imposed “Teen” rating on this post because of violent and suggestive imagery and strong language. It’ll make sense as you read on.
I’m a pretty easygoing guy. But if there’s one thing that irks me is when news outlets, lawyers and, well, the general public say that video games are warping kid’s minds. When a teenager goes on a shooting spree, it’s a sure thing some news reporter is going to say the perpetrator played video games like Call of Duty or some other “murder simulator.”
Yes, there are numerous video games where you have to shoot off guns. Yes, a lot of games nowadays do contain graphic violence. I’m not disputing these facts. If a game like Mortal Kombat can shock Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, you know what they have in the game is pretty crazy.
Video games are the latest scapegoat to all of the world’s ills. I think every form of media was blamed. Movies, music, cartoons and television are still accused for putting evil thoughts in kids’ brains. Even some books are noted of causing the decay of society.
Why do they say this? I believe because it’s so easy to blame something like video games. It’s something people can point to and say “Here’s the culprit! If we get rid of it, we can prevent this kind of thing from happening again!” Well, no. Getting rid of or censoring video games will not prevent this from happening again. In fact, they tried… with comic books.
In the late 40’s and early 50’s, crime and horror comics were a big thing and the king of horror comics was EC Comics. Well, you can’t have crime and horror comics with some kind of violent imagery. And EC Comics had them in spades. They may look tame for some people now but I bet they were pretty frightening at the time.
In 1954, Fredric Wertham wrote a book, entitled “Seduction of the Innocent.” The book claims a lot of juvenile crimes were because children were reading comic books. He said that comics had a detrimental effect on the mind of the young readers. He did note in his book that parents were also to blame but comics is a heavy influence for juvenile delinquency. Oh, and Batman and Robin are gay.
What happened after the book was published was astonishing. The United States Senate called for a session to discuss this “serious” problem. The comics industry, fearful that the government was going to start censoring their content, decided to create the Comics Code Authority. The Comics Code Authority’s job was to… essentially censor the content of comics. I guess it’s better to censor yourself rather than have someone else do it for you.
In order to get the seal, comics had to meet strict guidelines. Criminals shouldn’t be sympathetic and should get be punished at the end of the story. The police and government officials should be presented as honorable people. No monsters (like vampires, zombies and werewolves) can be shown. There’s a lot more but you get the idea.
With this in place, parents got to breathe a sigh of relief. Their children will now be safe from those wicked, wicked picture books. Right?
Wrong. Nothing really changed after comics started to self-censor their content. Even after all of this happened, there was still a lot of juvenile delinquents. There were still young people performing crimes, both big and small. After all of that, nothing really changed!
Video games was hit by the same thing. In the 90’s, Mortal Kombat and Night Trap caused the US Senate to question how the violence and sexual situations in video games were affecting the minds of impressionable young children. Because of this, the video game industry created the Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB for short. Their job? Give age ratings to video games. Even with this in place since the 90’s, video games are still the punching bag of news media when kids perform indescribable acts of violence.
The truth of the matter is we really don’t know why many people commit these insane acts. Why? Because they’re insane acts! Something set them off to do it. I’ll concede that sometimes, maybe, just maybe, video games set them off. But they are not the cause of why they think it’s okay to go through with it. If it wasn’t a video game, it would have been something else. What would it be? I don’t know because I can’t think like them!
Video games aren’t the cause of kids getting it into their minds that it’s a good idea to go on a shooting spree. Millions of gamers play Call of Duty but you don’t see millions of kids shooting people, do you? If video games were the cause, you would hear about a school shooting more often. Thankfully, we don’t hear that.
You know what? Chris Rock said it best. What ever happened to crazy?
What do you think of the video game violence issue? Is it fair that news outlets always go after video games? Please leave your thoughts and comment below.