During a White House meeting in February, US President Donald Trump said the nation needs to address what young people are seeing. His remarks came after the February 14 shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Trump’s words were soon dismissed by video game enthusiasts.
“I grew up playing video games, first-person shooter games and I would never, ever dream of taking the lives of any of my peers,” said one survivor from the Douglas High School shooting.
On the other side of the debate, voices advocating reform over how gun violence is depicted in video games and films have begun to surge throughout social media.
With different viewpoints vying for a position at the top when it comes to discussions on the issue, it still confuses both sides when asked what should be blamed for school shootings, guns or games?
Let’s answer this question with another and assume that gun law loopholes are the predominant influence in mass shootings, but does this make violent-themed video games harmless angels?
The answer is NO.
Set aside the contradicting viewpoints of psychologists and researchers for a moment and look at the characteristics that have come to define violent video games.
California law defines a violent video game as “a video game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.”
Based solely on my upbringing, I can’t fathom how any of the aforementioned actions could be pleasant to watch.
Those who remain unopposed to violence-ridden video games cite studies that have found zero connection with actual violence. So does this mean that virtual violence is something we should tolerate?
Any video game which features a man hunting something or awards points for killing humans is in fact conditioning gamers to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.
A neighbor of Nikolas Cruz’s, the Douglas High shooter, told reporters that he would play video games for as much as 15 hours a day.
“It was kill, kill, kill, blow up something, and kill some more, all day,” the neighbor said.
When the significance of human life has been depleted, it is doubtful that perception would change in real life. However, not all mass shooters were video game addicts.
Trump’s efforts to implement strict regulations against violent video games will not go as smooth as he would prefer. The American public is divided over the question of whether violent games inspire violent behavior.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, forty-nine percent of American adults play video games on a computer, television, console or portable device. While another 10 percent consider themselves to be “gamers.”
A large part of the video game population fosters a multi-billion dollar industry. When it comes down to profit and social opinion, money always wins.
Maybe a better question to ask is not WHAT can young people see, but HOW they see it.
Germany has implemented strict measure against video game violence, but as the majority of video games rely heavily on violence as a form of entertainment, the German government mandates that game developers use robot characters instead of humans within the games.
When a robot is shot, sparks fly out instead of blood and guts. When the robots are blown up, oil and machine parts fly everywhere rather than human limbs.
China has adopted a similar policy.
Unknown's “Battlegrounds” is a popular video game in China. In the game, when a character is shot, green fluid flows from its body.
It is believed Chinese authorities have ordered game developers to implement this change to minimize the visual effect of red flowing blood.
US media has reported that Trump will soon meet representatives from the Entertainment Software Association, the leading video game trade group to discuss the implementation of a video game rating system.
The move could be a healthy start for necessary change.