Are Video Games Really To Blame?

Recently, one of the latest news stories blaming a video game was released. This certain story is about an 18 year old murdering a Taxi driver in Thailand, resulting in GTA IV’s ban in Thailand. This was closely followed by two other claims against the Grand Theft Auto franchise; blaming it for a group of teens causing havoc with Molotov cocktails and the destruction of plants….yes…plants. So it appears that video games are becoming the proposed weapon of destruction in today’s society, with them receiving the blame for even the most unlikely crimes. But, are video games really to blame?

I’ll run you through a small list of the extremely varied issues that have been blamed on video games so far:

  • Murders
  • Suicides
  • Child neglect
  • England’s failure to reach the Euro 2008
  • Obesity
  • Hallucinations
  • Massacres
  • Death of plants
  • Movie ticket sales

Then the thing is that absolutely none of these issues have been proven to be caused by video games, it’s simply assumptions and blame. A perfect example is the Virginia Tech shootings, which were quick to be blamed on violence contained in video games by Jack Thompson and Dr.Phil. At the time of their statements and pre-mature conclusions not even the identity of the shooter had been released, giving them nothing to back up their statements.

Then we have a more recent suicide from February of this year, a British teen committed suicide after an argument over a confiscated Wii game. It was then proposed by the Daily Mail that the teenager’s death was clearly because of the game, an assumption based on no evidence whatsoever.

The richest of all of these coming from McDonald’s boss, Steve Easterbrook, as he blames obesity on video games. However he does say McDonalds contribute very slightly, how modest of you Steve. He said all of this to The Times and ranted on about youth diets especially, very rich considering he is boss of one of the most popular fast-food restaurants of this day. Yet he doesn’t seem to mind working with the gaming industry for a profit, making a deal with Sega in 2003 to supply McDonalds happy meals with exclusive toys.

Another interesting piece comes from film executives as they blame poor October 2007 box office sales on Halo 3. They’re convinced that movie punters were sitting at home on the futuristic FPS instead of going out to see the latest movie blockbuster, although the Master Chief hit broke all blockbuster records by bringing in $170 million on its first day of release.

So from just the examples above, it’s clear that video games are being targeted from all angles, from plummeting box office sales to massacres. But do people even bother to look deeply into other causes of the crime or issue? For example, the Virginia Tech massacre in America, we all know that in the United States people have the ‘right to bear arms’ so in other words, to keep and bear firearms. So maybe instead of blaming everything on video games such as Manhunt and GTA, people should be quicker to blame certain laws and rights. Many places don’t exactly lack in visible opportunities to purchase firearms or other weapons, sometimes being one of the most common shops about.

Another story concerns a 12 year old boy accidentally shooting his younger brother with a gun, the first conclusion was that the boy was ‘acting out an anti-terrorist game’. Therefore holding the PS2 responsible for the death and stating that video games cause violence. But how about we look into the most obvious part of the crime, where the heck did the kid get the gun? I play quite a few violent games but I’m mature enough to understand violence and that it isn’t a normal thing to do. Oh, and let’s not forget this fact, my parents are smart enough to make sure I don’t have access to loaded firearms.

Instead of everyone jumping to the conclusion of video games being the sole reason for humanity’s problems, how about we actually use our brains and look at the facts instead. People are now smart enough to know they can get away with blaming their own mistakes on video games, as many recently have done. Then it’s just soaked in by the authorities and then us gamers have another case on our hands, trying to prove we’re not all psychopaths. There’s as many other possibilities for all of the crimes or issues listed; society, health, parents or guardians and laws being a selected few.

I’ll let all these fancy experts, professors and politicians, who have probably never touched a game, come back to me with some good hard evidence to prove video games truly are the cause of all these problems. Otherwise I’m not listening, unlike some of the people that will believe anything they say because of their titles. So I’ll sit and wait for this proven evidence, which will most likely never come…







4 responses to “Are Video Games Really To Blame?”

  1. Zanveth avatar

    I turned on the news today and watched some pretty horrific scenes as a conflict between Georgia and Russia escalates into full blown war.

    I watched as images showed people that were covered in blood and clearly severely traumatised – and quite rightfully so, as the images then showed the devastation that Russian air raids had caused, some thousands of civilians dead they claim, many more injured – and they fear this can get worse?

    This was shown on the BBC news at 5pm UK time, during which I had my 1.5yr old son sat next to me (we had been previously watching football and just lacked the effort to get off the sofa.) It was all pretty graphic, and has not been the first time the news has shown images to this affect.

    It’s not that I disagree with the news, I enjoy watching it, but despite its pretty graphic content, surely it too could shoulder some of the blame?

    Front pages of newspapers can also be mentioned, I remember some pretty horrific front pages after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11th in New York, and July 7th in London.

    How many children pass the newspaper stand in the local shop while raiding the sweet isle?

    Games are an easy target because so many narrow minded people fail to understand games, and the culture we all live in.

    I personally do believe something should be done, but not by banning games for being too violent, I am after all an adult, I can by British law, drink, drive, reproduce, smoke, buy a house, etc – but because some stuck up person in a suit decides is a bit to graphical for them, I get punished?

    No, games shouldn’t be banned, or the gamers punished, what should be done is parents and the like being better educated in the gaming world, how? I don’t honestly know, but I suppose actually talking their children and taking an interest in what they are doing would be a start.

    Yes there are violent games out there, just like there are violent forms of any other media. But there are also educational titles out there, family orientated games and of course games that on the surface don’t look like anything other than a game can actually help with your reading and writing skills, and perhaps social interaction (talking about MMO’s here.)

    When people understand games and gamers more, perhaps we’ll see some head way, but until then expect ‘our world’ to be mentioned every time something horrible happens in the world.

  2. John avatar

    I think we’re all going to be on the same page here aren’t we.
    But we do have to be careful not to be seen to be simply protecting our own space, the problems we have in society are NOT today’s problems, they been around since caveman X belted Caveman Y over the head to get to a particularly ‘bling’ bit of mammoth thigh. Each age and generation has it’s own finger pointers and I fear that, for now, we and are medium are just today’s witches and are being burned and pilloried by the (once again) self appointed standard bearers of today morals and public well-being.

    Just in the last hundred years the target has gone from music to TV to music to movies to music to games.
    Bottom Line? If it’s popularist it will be held responsible, but the real responsibilities lie with the true moral gatekeepers of our and any other age; the parents. Unfortunately we have, at the moment, a moral vacuum in this area as todays parents are the children of the eighties who have grown up under the illusion that “its someone else’s problem”.

    Stand fast brothers and sisters. We fundamentally know what’s right and wrong and, for the most part, have a decent moral compass, these stormy waters will come and go and the loony liberals and finger pointers will find another target soon enough.
    Personally I blame the internet!! 🙂

  3. Skill avatar

    You make some great points.
    But gaming’s still responsilble for climate change and world poverty.
    I mean, that’s right, isn’t it?

  4. Michelle avatar

    I completely agree with you and the points you have made. Good work Paige

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