Posted December 18, 2012 by Hanna in Features

Think Violent Video Games Are at Fault? Think Again.

Think Violent Video Games Are at Fault? Think Again. (Gamesfiends.com)
Think Violent Video Games Are at Fault? Think Again. (Gamesfiends.com)

As events unfolded on Friday I wondered how long until the violent act is tied to video games. The answer, sadly, is “almost immediately.” Between the argument to ban or not to ban guns, the mental stability of the shooter and discussion of violence and desensitization in today’s society which, of course, is directly related to entertainment (re: video games) I just. stopped. watching. As a first generation home console gamer, a parent and a decent human being I am taking a stand and stating that this needs to end. For argument’s sake, this is defined as lack of human decency and lack of personal responsibility.

I was reading Kotaku’s article about the TV coverage linking violent video games and entertainment to the massacre in Connecticut. Like most video medleys, I only listened with half an ear; I will admit that half-listening could be due to my parental instinct on always having an ear on the kids or because I was truly only listening for statements that mirrored my own (or a by product of both). But what stuck out to me, and it’s because it’s truly how I feel, is Dr. Phil’s statement that “there is simply something else going on,” when referencing violent video games directly linked to the killer’s rampage.

And in the end, it’s true.

But we all know this. So what? What’s the bigger picture? The bigger picture is that it’s all cyclical. We, as a society, are given exactly what we want when we want it and those giving it to us are doing so because it generates revenue, increased page counts/tweets and exposure. Stop the ferris wheel people, and get off the ride.

It’s bigger than liking/not liking violent video games. It’s bigger than allowing teachers to carry/carry guns in school. It’s bigger than all that. While yes, it’s bigger than you in the end, you are what’s going to make the change. This is where I insert cries and moans of “but it’s so hard.” Guess what? IT IS. Suck it up and just do it. Do the right thing. What is the right thing? Being a decent, compassionate human being with more than a lick of common sense about you.

Each Sunday I attempt to watch CBS Sunday Morning. This past Sunday they had a segment on the country becoming more secular and how we’re losing our religion. It was an interesting piece with points from both sides. Opinion or not, the statistics do exist. Are people lying to look better/worse in a statistic? Maybe. I studied the Bible as a written document and history of a society in conjunction with studying and understanding the world’s history, including religious aspects from a removed point of view – please contain your envy. What I learned is that in the end, it doesn’t matter what religion you are or if you even practice or believe in anything. Stories, no matter where they came from, were meant as a catharsis and for introspection and potential discussion and – shocker – life lessons. Don’t want to die in a flood? Don’t behave poorly. Since the written word had yet to be mainstream and paper was expensive, stories were told from those with great memories and other people that could read. More and more people were drawn to it on many levels and say hello to organized religion. Is it perfect? No and it certainly has seen it’s corrupt moments. But did people go out of their way to make it better? Not always. Welcome to the first very generic example of the bystander effect in society. We are so far removed from these stories – I mean really – that people in today’s modern, educated society can not relate to them. So why stand with them? Do I think that the lack of religious identification makes you a horrible person? No. I think, though, that without someone or something educating you on what’s good versus bad (be it a religion, a teacher, a parent, society) you’re going to be void of a conscious.

Think Violent Video Games Are at Fault? Think Again (GamesFiends.com)

There is simply something else going on.

This isn’t even about my diatribe on being religious or not – because in the end I don’t care. It’s about everyone being an armchair critic and repeating things they’ve heard and jumping on a bandwagon rather than doing the research, educating themselves and forming their own opinion. It’s about people not being responsible for their own actions and blaming someone else rather than owning up to a mistake. It’s about this extremeness in society – it’s either black or white and you’re either right or wrong. It’s about how you post your opinion about someone’s Facebook post and someone else takes it upon themselves to school you in such a negative, condescending way because they are the absolute antithesis of your voiced thoughts and suddenly you’re unfriended. Better yet, it’s about how you are afraid to post your thoughts or like something on someone’s wall for fear of the aforementioned.

Don’t like video games? Don’t play them, then but surely don’t take it upon yourself to think yourself educated on the topic of violence in video games being linked to aggression when your eight year old became increasingly agitated after playing a mature-rated game. Ask an employee of a video game merchandise store and I am extremely confident that you’ll hear more than one story of an underage child that throws fits of terror inside the store at the adult that doesn’t want to buy them a game that’s not for them. Usually the adult caves, either because they are embarrassed at the fit or because they are so tired of that happening which, by the way, means that the kid knows how to push that adult’s buttons and will consistently push those buttons harder and harder to get what they want. As the responsible adult you say “no.” An even more responsible parent explains why they can’t have it, educating them why you came to your decision and instill in them a sense of right and wrong. An even more responsible (not to mention awesome and cool) parent then redirects them to a more age-appropriate game and even offers to play it with them. I have played video games my entire life, as have my siblings and my husband and his sibling. We’re all responsible adults with children and mortgages and have managed not to become a detriment to society. I’ve never participated in a poll about gaming and it’s effects on my life or my children’s lives nor have any of my relatives. As life-long gamers, we represent a huge population yet we’re the most silent because, really, we’re boring. We don’t make headlines interesting enough. But those folks that are questionable, those folks that keep making poor decisions and never show a modicum of responsibility, those few by which specific standards are held. They end up being the ones that represent the whole because when you look further, there really isn’t anything more than a bunch of people in their homes playing video games in their sweats. But by us demanding that headline-making level of exposure (can we say Jersey Shore & 16 and Pregnant), by glorifying and giving it a name, by accepting that behavior, we are teaching our children that it’s acceptable to behave that way. It’s not. Why? “Because I said so,” doesn’t really apply here but common sense, personal and public responsibility and human decency does.

One of the most overused but completely undervalued quote that I like to use is from Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse.” As a decent human being prior to pro-creation, the power of how you behave in society, interact with each other and make decisions is your super power and your responsibility. As a responsible parent it’s your job to both that child and society. If there wasn’t anyone in your life to teach you these things it’s still your responsibility, it’s just a bit harder to learn it. No one expects perfection – that’s only on TV and edited YouTube videos after multiple attempts.

Yes, violent video games exist. Should developers not make them? I think that anyone has a right, and should have the right, to make anything that they want to make. Supply and demand will determine if the market wants it. It’s that market determination where I think the onus of responsibility falls on the marketers to properly market these games. Growing up I never thought that Joe Camel was aimed at me as a child but then again, I wasn’t interested in smoking, despite family members being smokers. Smoking wasn’t for kids, it was for adults. Was that society teaching me that or was it my family? Joe Camel got a big slap on the wrist, they learned and now are different. Do I blame them for people dying of lung cancer? No, I don’t. But corporate responsibility does exist, though I’m pretty sure the lines have clouded their judgement through the green lens of prosperity.

But there is simply something else going on.

Personal responsibility and common decency seem to be a thing of the past. Sure, we all misspell thing occasionally thanks to auto-correct. For some, though, I’m pretty sure they actually don’t know the proper way to do things. Yes, we all laugh at how ignorant cousin Joe is because of his improper use of they’re/their/there but when it’s consistently wrong, maybe you just simply send him a link to a website with an explanation of it’s proper use. Yeah, he might get mad that you called him out. But what Joe really needs to do is own up and say, “Got it. Thanks!” even if, under his breath, he thinks you’re a tool. It does take a village to raise a child. It takes a society to sustain and lead a country. In grade school I had to sing “The Greatest Love of All,” though at the time I was sad we didn’t sing “Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now“. At the time it was all lost on me and while I appreciate the message now I bet my parents appreciated the message and reminder about responsibility at the time. An uplifting reminder that we’re in it together, raising our children responsibly. Remember, we’re the ones choosing their nursing homes.

I grew up just on the other side of the Washington, D.C. border. As an adult I would watch the news to catch up on things so I wouldn’t appear to be ignorant at work when someone would ask, “Did you see…”. The news focused on everything negative they possibly could. Didn’t matter the channel. When we moved away from the hustle and bustle I chose what I wanted to learn about and chose how I wanted to access the news, something I started just after the birth of child #2. I’m not ignoring things or not watching and learning. But I’m certainly choosing the filter through which my information travels. By choosing my own filter I’m making a conscious decision to not allow someone else to determine the information that’s relayed to me. It’s still, of course, biased from whomever I get my information. But that’s my conscious decision taking the different (and dare I say higher) road. Do I think that mainstream media has lost their sense of responsible journalism? You bet. But they lost it along the same road that everyone else has traveled. Do I think I think they should take it upon themselves to be respectful and bring back responsibility to journalism? You bet.

You don’t like something? Ok. But don’t bash someone else because their opinion is different than yours. Don’t like what’s on TV? Ok, turn it off until the corporations get the message, either by declining statistics or because you sent them a message on Facebook telling them you didn’t like something. No one knows something is wrong unless you say something. If they don’t address you or your concerns that’s bad customer service and you don’t have to support it. Go get a Roku Box or Apple TV or even stream Netflix. There are so many alternative options out there, especially in today’s instant gratification, social media obsessed society. I’m leaning towards a major generalization (probably because of said instant gratification and social media obsession) but I’m really starting to feel that we’re the most selfish and ignorant society to have existed. There is so much good in our world but we don’t hear about it because something negative and hateful will get 10 times the exposure than the positive experience. I love grumpy cat and all the sarcasm that the internet has to offer as much as any person with a dry sense of humor. But the internet has become something that no one could have predicted and there is the lack of personal responsibility. Maybe you drunk posted a picture of a friend in a wet t-shirt contest and tagged their cousin in it. Poor judgement, that. But you can fix it and here’s an idea – apologize. Lesson learned. It just seems that no one is learning that lesson.

I know this is going to fall on deaf ears; I get that. But in my corner of the world it’s how I roll. Maybe it’ll cause someone to think & change and make a difference. If nothing else, I got it off my chest and know that I’m doing everything in my power to raise three boys to be decent human beings with a sense of moral responsibility.

All in all, I just wish that people would stop being douchebags.

Here’s your pedestal back. I’m done with it.


I grew up the lone girl a then-considered nerdy household, which involved Atari, Super NES and PC Gaming. I love all things pop culture, including the geekier realm of Star Wars, Science Fiction and yes, all things vampires. I found my love match with @TroyBenedict and I'm now a Haus Frau and mother of three boys, all of whom find MineCraft to be a gift from the Gods. I'm the Community Manager of the team - for a good times follow us on Twitter at @GamesFiends.com, on our Facebook & Google+ Pages as well as Pinterest and YouTube,