Whilst in the process of writing an article about computer game violence I came across an excellent and intelligently written article online, which I feel discusses the issue of computer game violence in a thought-provoking and cohesive way.
Society is always looking for someone or something to blame, and computer games have entered the focus. It has been this way for a long time, in the past there have been such heinous influences as comics (during the 50’s), rock and roll (Elvis was leading to the degradation of society), books (Harry Potter encourages belief in the supernatural) and Dungeons and Dragons (encouraging Satanic worship and belief in the supernatural).
Marilyn Manson spoke eloquently in ‘Bowling for Columbine’ when he said,
“the two bi-products of that tragedy (the Columbine shootings in 1999) were violence in entertainment and gun control… the President was dropping bombs overseas yet I’m the bad guy because I sing some rock and roll songs. Now who has the bigger influence, the President or Marilyn Manson? This is telling of the media as no one has said that the President or the society in which the individual was a part of created the situation because that is not how the media want to spin it… they are looking for scapegoats and easy answers where there are none!”
Computer games can be used by people with personal problems, and may even be a catalyst for them, but they are not the inherent problem, and laying all blame at their feet is socially irresponsible. After the Norway shootings and Ander Breivik saying that it was his immersion in violent computer games that encouraged him to murder many people, newspapers around the world were publishing distressing articles about how computer games encourage violence. Are we saying Anders Breivik was a perfectly sound individual before he started playing computer games or is it more likely that he had violent tendencies, psychological issues and many other causal factors that led him to commit such heinous acts? Which is the most likely?
As a society we are doing society a disservice by ignoring the real issues behind the violence that occurs in the world. We’re ignoring the mental problems, the social and family problems and everything that is more likely behind these acts of violence than computer games. Blaming computer games is not going to teach children anything except that blaming the arts and entertainment industry is the go-to excuse for the psychological problems of the few.
As for computer games corrupting the mind of children? Well, some computer games aren’t meant for the young developing minds of children. If the game is titled Hitman, Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto then you can probably guess that children should not be playing it. In the past games like Mortal Kombat were accused of promoting violence but the graphics and technical limitations meant that it was pure hyperbole. But now, with the advance in technology, games can now be more visceral and realistic and the classification of gaming should be taken more seriously.
This onus rests on the shoulders of the parents, who should be monitoring the media their children consume. I can understand that this can be quite difficult due to the ease of access to online gaming, but there does need to be a dialogue between parents and their children. I played many games that were innappropriate for my age when I was younger but my parents, who didn't know much about computer games, always spoke to me and my brother about real world and fantasy world- it helped keep us grounded and meant we knew that what was happening in the game was pretend and not reflective of the real world.
There are plenty of games available that are age appropriate and these are the ones that the children should be playing. In the UK films are classified before release and so are games, yet the amount of parents I see who buy their children these violent games, even when the shop employee has stated that it is a mature, game is amazing. Parents have to take responsibility for their children’s actions and can’t just blame teachers, politicians or media. The computer should be a treat as a useful tool, not the babysitter it can easily become. What are you opinions on the matter?