Do Video Games Kill?
Thanks to Patrick Scott Patterson, I learned of an incident that happened over the weekend that I otherwise would have never caught wind of up here in the great white north. In Louisiana over the weekend, an eight year old boy intentionally shot his 87 year old grandmother in the head. This in itself is tragic enough, but investigators then went and linked the fact that the child played Grand Theft Auto IV before hand. One that news was released, gaming was back on trial.
Scott made some great points pertaining to how the story was presented in the media; any ‘experts’ on the subject weren’t even gamers, and the main focus wasn’t on the availability of a loaded gun, but what the boy was doing prior to blowing his grandmother away. Grand Theft Auto V is set for release in just a few weeks, so the timing of this incident couldn’t have come at a worse time, or could it?
Before we all head out with our pitchforks in one hand, torches in the other, we all need to take a step back and try and see the real picture. Sure, the kid was 8 years old playing an M rated game, which is an issue we will need to take a look at. This child however, also had access to an unlocked and loaded weapon, which is something the media doesn’t seem to want to focus on.
Games have been portrayed as the cause for the last 20 years. It all began with the popular first person shooter, DOOM, sharing the blame for the Columbine shooting. The Sandy Hook shooting last Christmas was blamed on Mass Effect. Yet, despite all of my research, I have yet to find any other form of media being blamed for mass shootings, whether it be movies, music, or even books. This says only one thing; the mass media has painted a big red target on the video game industry, and will look to undermine it any chance they get.
Why would the mainstream media do such a thing? Aren’t they supposed to be reporting the news? The answer to that is easy to understand when you step back and look at the situation. Video games pose the biggest threat to most forms of media. It is the largest media industry in the world, and been blamed for slacking movie sales and book sales. You don’t hear kids on the playground talking about the latest book they’ve read, or how awesome Disney’s new animated movie was. Instead, you’ll hear them share strategies in games like Call of Duty, discuss creations in Minecraft, or how they found a new mod for their favorite game.
When dollars are threatened, and lobbyists join forces, you can easily paint something as evil. It has happened in the past, and continues to happen to today. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search on how Montsanto took over the seed industry with relative ease. Games do something special; they combine the best elements of books with that of movies to create an interactive story. They are the next evolution in the industry, and those that made their millions from the old way feel threatened enough to try and stop them. While we all know that ultimately, they will fail, the fact remains that as a society we need to focus on the real reasons for an incident, and not the pseudo issues.
How was this eight year old able to get hold of the weapon? Why was it loaded, or the ammunition easily accessible? Did this boy suffer from mental illness? These are the questions we should be asking. If the boy was watching My Little Pony before hand, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
Should he have been playing GTA IV? Absolutely not, if not for the violence, then for the foul language. Kids really don’t need to be subjected to that at such an age. Was it the cause of the murder? Absolutely not. I’ve played games all my life, and my parents never understood the warning labels, so I played many M rated games when I was younger. As of today, I still haven’t felt compelled to kill anyone. My boys all play their fair share of violent games, whether it be Black Ops 2 online, Dead Rising 2, or Mass Effect. They haven’t even asked me if there is an available gun in our house, and never get in trouble for violence at school.
This leads me to believe that mental health probably plays a big issue in this case, and there are definitely underlying causes to the incident. However, video games are not those causes, or even the trigger.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever had the urge to kill someone after playing a violent game? Is this just a media scheme to shut down video games to stop the evolution of the media? Leave your thoughts below and let us know!