Violence in Video Games: Can we get real?

It’s a topic that gamers want to dismiss. “Not us!” We scream. After all, we just play games for fun. It’s just a hobby, one that has never influenced our behavior. But whether you or I are personally driven to violence by entertainment media consumption isn’t at issue here. I get it, 99.9% of all gamers are generally decent human beings. A small percent of the population, unfortunately, have a predisposition to violence, gamers included. And some of those people could be triggered by media influences. Yes, that includes video games.

The chicken or the egg

As America continues to face gun violence unparalleled to the rest of the world, the obvious culprit here is the extreme access to guns. Politicians are quick to point to ANY other reason besides the sheer number of guns, as well as the heavy artillery guns that are available for Americans to purchase without much resistance.

It’s a video game problem, a mental health problem, a parenting problem. Umm? What about the fact that guns outnumber people in the United States?

The truth is so simple, and I really have to question the common sense of elected officials. Remove the guns, remove the catastrophic injury.

Sadly, guns are deeply engrained in American culture, and they are pervasive. They helped us gain independence from England, gave us courage to pursue uncertain land wars, and even hold a prestigious place in our Constitution. Number 2 of the Amendments, not bad.

What our forefathers perhaps could not foresee, is that owning a gun isn’t a right, it is a privilege. And, I’d go so far as to say that just because someone is born in a certain country does not give that person right to carry a firearm! Seriously, this whole birthright bullshit needs to go. This is a fundamental flaw of our Constitution, an Amendment that needs amended. Here, I’ll do it.

“All (wo)men have the privilege to bear light arms, assuming they are mentally and physically capable of doing so. With annual checks on said health.”

Would any American in their right mind(funny, that’s what this boils down to,) give any pause to this phrase taking the place of our current 2nd Amendment? I don’t like the idea that anyone can buy a gun, and so easily. Neither should you. Show me a politician who opposes, and I’ll show you a politician no longer fit to serve office.

Yes, this is a gun problem, a clerical problem, even. Not an entertainment media problem, exclusively. But…

Entertainment Media should not be let off the hook.

The violence in video games IS REAL! It’s extravagant and over the top, feels real, and puts players in control of people firing weapons that also feel real. Many games are violent to a degree, but the level of realism and the mature nature of those shooting games cannot be dismissed, and they deserve scrunity. Not for the results of mass shooting, but because… And this might piss you off… They are completely unnecessary and have the potential to do more harm than good.

Seriously ask yourself, could you live without your Call of Duty or Battlefield? Odds are, yes. I enjoy a good realistic shooter from time to time, but I could easily go without.

Before you get up in arms completely, understand that I do not lump all violent games into the the same category. Not every game that’s a shooter is also realistically violent(Overwatch, Halo, Splatoon.) On the same hand, there are tons of over-the-top games that aren’t shooters that are excessively violent. (Devil May Cry, MadWorld, Ninja Gaiden.)

What’s the point? Leave the shooters that are clearly placed in fiction alone. And, since we are talking about gun violence, I think the realistic shooters should probably be getting some attention. After all, they are giving players control of wild, fantastical scenarios, but scenarios that feel very real. The truth is that these game companies are pandering to a deep belief by many Americans that guns are a right, and guns are awesome. I mean, what could be better than shooting a Nazi in the face point blank? The more gunfire there is, the more explosions, the more deaths, the better. Fantasy as it may be, if we don’t move away from glorifying gun violence in America, it will always be an uphill battle. Video games can help make that change by not pandering to those deep seeded beliefs.

Let’s Change the narrative

It isn’t just video games. Movies are perhaps the bigger culprit in the entertainment media realm, pumping out gun-toting hero movies for decades. Yeah, the movies are entertainment, I get it, but they only further embed in the minds of consumers that guns are cool or awesome. There’s a reason why movies, like Die Hard and Scarface are considered classics. A lot of it is because of the action and violence. A realistic war movie, which can definitely be done tastefully, and has been, still glorifies the hero with the gun. Even if that’s a faithful recreation of American history, it’s still furthering the idea that guns win.

I think it would be naive to suggest there isn’t a connection between gun violence in movies and video games and gun violence in real life. It’s hard to pinpoint where the violence comes from, or how much blame each deserves, but does it matter? No matter which is causing which, does it really matter? I quote a line from the new Avett Brothers song, Bang Bang: “If I never hear gunfire again, I’ll be fine.”

When I heard this line, I deeply agreed. My heart aches for a time where I don’t worry about something happening to me, or to ones I love. So I suggest, why can’t game developers and movie studios be some of the first to say no to guns in their medium? Would I miss it? I don’t think so. Like it or not, the entertainment industry, including video games, can easily help change the culture of guns in America. The only question becomes, who has the courage to balk at the money, to create new types of games and movies? Who will be the first to stand up and do it?

In Conclusion

Guns have a place in American history, and I’m not suggesting to take away your guns. What I’m suggesting is that entertainment media use its long, extended reach to consumers and be responsible. Be the change that this country seeks. We can’t rely on the slow moving political world, be we can invoke real change from the outside. I will do my part. I will not be purchasing a movie ticket for realistic violence films, or buying realistically violent video games. Can I live without them? If I never hear gunfire again, I’ll be fine. If the heads of these companies can’t see the influence they have, maybe we can speak with our wallets. Bless you all, and be well.