It’s happened again, more times than we all would ever want to believe, twice in one weekend. The USA is experiencing the most horrific of crisis’s, the loss of innocent lives in broad daylight on everyday streets. Nowhere is safe. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all families and communities affected by these atrocities.
The intention of this article is to support the preservation of lives, resorting to finding the solution not blame. Encouraging unification, not division. If games are going to be blamed, it doesn’t matter whom by – it doesn’t matter what for. Then we as gamers who enjoy games as a primary hobby, as an income or both are bold enough – yes bold enough, to sincerely consider why anyone would find it easy to believe the games some of us currently enjoy are shattering the minds of human beings so much it withdraws them from humanity so they believe murder is even an option. Not just murder but a very deliberate show of public outrage – a spectacle screaming for the attention of the world at the cost of lives they have (often) never met. Anonymity, suicide, finality at it’s evilest.
That’s what particular games are being blamed for.
Are you shocked?
SIZING UP THE SITUATION
It is time to declare America a war zone & for its leaders to call a national emergency. We’re hearing the debates with no immediate resolutions in sight that make communities actually feel safer. Often reactions from government officials in America, in the name of any mass shooting seem to have very little to do with making clear decisions regarding gun laws enforcing stricter accessibility. In a country with 52 states spanning almost 4 million square miles, I can understand why the decision is so difficult vs smaller countries like New Zealand who made no hesitation changing gun laws after the horrific slaughter of innocent lives earlier this year BUT is the size of a country a good enough reason not to try?
Violent games that immerse players into everyday scenarios brandishing a gun is a small part of a much larger window of psychology that I hope mental health professionals around the globe take sincere time to publicly weigh in on as quickly as they possibly can because even someone like me (who does not have this expertise) understands that to blame mainly games for influencing the mass shootings in the USA without also blaming media, movies, television or music; is like blaming obesity in the USA on no other fast or fattening food except McDonald’s.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.”
This was the second of three bipartisan solutions President Trump cited from the White House after massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed 31 people two weekends ago.
“Cultural change is hard but each of us can chose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life, that’s what we have to do” – President Trump 2019
Trump continued to say, sending the gaming community into a social media frenzy with the hashtag #GamesAreNotToBlame. I separated his speech because it is the second part I found confusing.
To make it crystal clear, I was born and raised in another country but now live in the United States. Having grown up being governed by a monarchy in a country equally as far away you learn neutrality thought processes over time without even realizing, almost a detachment from political leadership. Like with England, the distance to America still impacted my life especially since my family is predominately military. Now I live in the thick of it and can confidently say that I am not witnessing anything that I didn’t think was already here in the USA before Trump took on his presidential role HOWEVER his approach is leading this beautiful nation, the world into a head-on collision with everything that could possibly go wrong in the shortest amount of time almost daily. No one gets very little rest from his very (seemingly) unfiltered public approach keeping the masses in a state of hyper-vigilance that welcomes immediate reaction.
America’s culture is being turned upside down and it’s this style of rapid response filtering across the country and the world that has me more concerned than any legislation, law or blame.
IDENTIFYING THE ISSUES
Games are built on cultivating a sense of urgency no matter the theme or genre of a game. When it comes to movies, books, music or any form of entertainment you will also find an audience who enjoy their entertainment keeping them on the edge of their seat whether it be horror, historic war, futuristic combat, realistic tragedy or fantasied heroism just to name a few. To cater to these interests producers must out-do themselves every time in creating that new, shock or surprise-that hook that pulls a person’s senses and imagination into their entertainment.
Gaming culture has always encouraged players to explore, discover and immerse then carve your own world or dominate the world you’re in, as it is. You become the co-creator of your experience with developers, those you play with (or both) creating a close relationship to the world you game in – together. Hasn’t that been your experience with games?
Before we continue, take a moment to consider reactions and attachments you’ve had/seen in-game or over a game. While you take this moment then take an extra step and separate your own personal experiences and some of the “gruesome and grisly” video games that the President might believe are commonplace – then imagine them in the hands of someone who finds it difficult to separate fact from fiction, right from wrong, life from death.
Imagine for a moment how games would affect someone who has no value of their own life, with only media to guide them during this state of cultural upheaval America is currently in.
Entertainment is created to do exactly that (entertain) whether to provide joy, escape from everyday routines or relaxation – whatever the reason you want to be entertained in that moment games also feed this appetite at any time of the day – for however long you want to stay engaged in it – at the touch of a button. If you have immersed hours, upon months and years in gameplay of any kind it affects your moods, personality, and outlook. Any long-time gamer can testify to this.
Gaming culture has also evolved into an industry that embraces influential marketing especially since the introduction of livestreaming/vlogging game play. Amidst this evolution of broadcasting is the recent increase of popularity with the battle royale genre encouraging all ages to mix online in mass like never before – grabbing the attention of mainstream media and health care professionals. It’s this amount of exposure that finds gaming vs health and law professionals to be like a deer in each others headlight.
So what is the facts and issues of the matter for games and gamers? Are gamers overreacting to the President of America targeting some games as being a primary concern to mass shootings in the USA without changing any gun laws or commenting on other forms of entertainment?
Yes and No.
Gamers are being influenced to react about the wrong things to do with this presidential statement and instead of being bold and adventurous like we naturally are just because we are gamers. Instead of being forward-thinking by starting conversations; healthy knowledge supported conversations not only among ourselves, with our followers or peers but also with the general public. We are joining the easily influenced masses resorting to taking this statement (or any regarding the negative sides of gaming) personally as though it applies to our own game play.
We are becoming sheep to our own ego’s because no intelligent person could disagree with the statement that some games do have a lot of violence in them – so do some movies, songs, television programs, books. Instead of being defensive we should be asking better questions directly to politicians, lawmakers, health workers, and the media. Better questions like what do other forms of entertainment do differently than games that allows them to not be included in this debate?
Gaming Influencers like Joe “Angry Joe” Vargas appeared on local/national news channels to share their own opinion about this subject in defense of video games.
Vargas who has built a career and brand out of being one of the most brutally honest and loudest gaming critics over the last decade believes politicians who state gaming causes violence are just doing so to debunk and distract folks from the real issues around mass shooting crisis in America. In his interview with Spectrum News, Vargas also shared a study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations supporting the notion (many gamers have) that if games were the problem, all the countries who sell games as much or even more than America would also have the same crisis.
While news like this is circling it would be beneficial for all to see more discussion on (why the years are different on the study shown above and) all the reasons why there aren’t any mass shootings in other countries like America – is it really just a gun access difference?
If we take a quick look at games that are banned around the world we can do your own comparisons, begin our own research if we haven’t already:
…video games were considered a protected form of expression under the First Amendment, meaning that federal or state law cannot be used to regulate their distribution based on content.” – United States of America
Could America’s own traditions toward censorship be supporting the reason video games keep being targeted as the main entertainment to be responsible for mass shootings? Or is it because the gaming industry generates more money than any other form of entertainment?
This is a complex problem and no one reason, including gun access – is the complete solution. Equipping teachers with guns is going ahead in some schools in America adding fuel to a roaring fire and it’s decisions like this that has me hoping gaming professionals in the office, in front of the camera and at home sincerely consider that maybe some games are too violent and it’s time to act not just talk about providing better rating guidelines, controls for parents in their children’s games, educational programs for all families on the how to accomplish and maintain healthy boundaries in games (etc.) It may also be time for gaming industry companies to be more careful about the services they provide taking responsibility of the platforms their games are shared by them to actual heart including reddit, twitter, discord, steam, twitch, mixer, youtube, facebook (etc.)
All these platforms greatly influenced by adults ready to exercise their first amendment or right to say anything they choose before you even respond are putting the vulnerable (including children) in the same room with this conflict because of the games we play. All this noise is indeed affecting the mental health of gamers – just so games get more exposure. Let’s drop the pretense that games do not effect the mental health of it’s players and thoughtfully discuss these impacts I dare us too.
Most of all I dare and urge the gaming industry in America to take control of itself regardless of criticism – before someone else does.
“Nothing reveals humanity so well as the games it plays.” David Hartley – English Philosopher and Founder of the Associationist School of Psychology.