Video game fantasy does not cause real life tragedy
Video games cause violence as much as scary movies causes people to turn into ghosts.
My brother is six years older than I am; naturally, I looked up to him during my childhood. I wanted to do everything he did — that included learning all about cars, baseball and video games. Thanks to him, I’m pretty good at Halo. If you know anything about first- person shooters, you know Halo. It’s arguably the best FPS ever.
My mom was always against video games. “There are better ways to spend your time,” she’d say. I don’t disagree, but video games are fun too.
Finally, one Christmas, someone convinced her to give us a system, and with that, hours of Mario Kart on Super Nintendo commenced. Eventually, that grew into James Bond: Golden Eye (and Mario Kart, still) on Nintendo 64, Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Game Cube and, ultimately, Halo on the Xbox.
When Halo first came out, we played it so much that we got to the point where we could make it through the first level on the hardest skill level, Legendary, in some stupidly fast amount of time, like seven minutes and 29 seconds.
We would invite a bunch of friends over and set up two TVs back-to- back with two Xboxes and four players on each TV. Pre-online gaming, eight of us would play in the same room with a mere 25 percent of the TV screen as our real estate and scream and laugh at each other while shooting each other’s digital “Spartan” (as they’re called in Halo) with assault rifles and pistols.
When we got tired of that, we would go outside and ride bikes to the local animal shelter or play flag football. We loved video games, but we also loved the outdoors. We had diverse interests. This is typically the case for most people.
However, as with everything, there are exceptions. If you’ve ever had a friend who is completely obsessed with video games, you know what I mean. They find their joy in those games. A few years ago, I had a group of friends who would go do bar trivia once a week. One of those friends sometimes couldn’t make it because he had committed three nights a week, four-plus hours a night, to “raiding.” It’s a thing you do in the game World of Warcraft, usually with a bunch of people you’ve never met, as was the case with him. He dedicated 15 to 20 hours per week to playing a game. He took his commitment very seriously.
However, he never dressed up as a big monster-looking thing hell bent on wreaking havoc or defeating some enemy like he did in that game. I think that he used the game to escape the real world and live a fantasy.
My brother and I have never once had a discussion about a desire for weapons. Over the span of more than a decade, we’ve clocked an insurmountable amount of hours playing Halo, he more than I. Add in Assassin’s Creed, a bit of Call of Duty, maybe some Gears of War, Destiny and many more, I wouldn’t even want to calculate the amount of violent games he has spent time playing.
He is one of the least violent, sweetest, most fun guys you’ll ever meet.
So, what is the big deal with violent video games? Why is it that there are people who adamantly won’t allow their children to play them and claim they cause violence?
I remember reading a heart-breaking story years ago about a child, about eight years old, who shot and killed his grandmother. He didn’t understand what he had done wrong. He spent a lot of time playing Grand Theft Auto.
Well, while we’d like to believe that an 8-year-old should know right from wrong, if that child never got the attention and love he needed from his parents and other adults in his life, if he was never taught to go outside and appreciate other areas of life and was just left in front of a TV with an extremely violent game well before the age that game is intended for, I’m no psychologist, but I bet his brain development got a bit screwed up.
Video games have ratings for good reason, just like movies. You wouldn’t take your 5-year-old to an R-rated movie that shows sex and drugs, so maybe don’t put your 8-year-old in a situation where he’s isolated and playing a game that teaches him beating prostitutes and stealing cars is OK.
As you’ll continue to learn in college, life is about balance. It’s about learning how to deal with what society throws at you while figuring out what you believe and how those things fit together or don’t.
If you’re taught early in life to distinguish real from fantasy and right from wrong, chances are, you’ll be able to dedicate an ungodly amount of time to staring at a TV clicking buttons on a remote without ever harming a soul.