Why Video Games Don’t Cause Violence

For anyone overseas who hasn’t heard the news (wouldn’t suprise me if you had, the UK likes to make a faff out of stuff like this), a few days ago a 15 year old in my hometown stabbed his teacher to death in his highschool. While I know The Daily Mail (who’ve covered the story in a variety of ways) is just an online rag meant for people who can’t form their own opinions, I felt that, as a listener of heavy metal and a player of “ultra-violent” video games, I should address the drivel The Daily Mail is spouting everywhere.

What they said:

  • “Schoolboy, 15, accused of stabbing teacher was ‘loner’ who played online video games Dark Souls and Grand Theft Auto”
  • “The teenager was also a member of Achievement Hunter- a gaming community – and would challenge and interact with other PS3 players online.”
  • “On his Facebook page, along with the Grim Reaper drawing and links to British heavy metal bands Enter Shikari and Bring Me The Horizon, he had posted a picture of himself dressed in black with long hair.”

First let me say: How dare they even suggest that Enter Shakari and BMTH are “heavy metal” bands. No. Not at all.

Second: there is no conclusive evidence whatsoever that playing video games leads to violence.  Also I will state, listening to heavy metal does not mean you worship the devil.

It’s been a little over 15 years since Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and killed 13 people in their highschool – a horrible incident known as the Coloumbine High School Massacre. The game “Doom” was blamed.

It’s not been that long since the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut. Blamed game? Grand Theft Auto V.

Now, media is blaming Dark Souls II and GTA V (again) for another violent attack from an adolescent. Of course, each of these incidents will have underlying factors, as mental health, social issues and home environements have been dicussed and ultimately come in to play. But the old “video games cause violence” argument just doesn’t work anymore.

For one, the average UK gamer is 35 years old (Wired). For another, though at least 1.6 billion people play video games (VentureBeat) in some form, the question really is simple – if video games caused people to murder, wouldn’t everyone who plays video games be doing it?

That’s at least 85% of the people I know. Nearly my entire network of friends are capable of murder, right? GTA V was named Game of the Year, so everyone who bought and played it has the potential to murder, right?

Let’s not even talk about murder for a minute. Suppose it’s basic – a child plays a “violent” game and therefore becomes “violent” – thus suggesting that games are persuasive and directly correlate to the user’s frame of mind or emotional state.

Okay then. So why isn’t half of the population flying through the air, trying to blow up green pigs? Why don’t most of the population sit around and think they’re being controlled by an unknown force?

And if “heavy metal” makes you violent, what does listening to other types of music make you do? Seriously, if any genre of music is going to make me violent, it’s more likely to be Nicki Minaj than Ill Nino.

So, what did The Daily Mail actually mean?

  • “We have no idea what happened. So we’ll blame the kid who doesn’t have any friends”
  • “He looks like a “goth,” so we’ll just assume he worships the devil as well”
  • “He plays competitively online, and plays “ultra-violent” (come on DM, that’s not even a thing) games at that”
  • “One of the protagonists in Dark Souls II has a massive sword and kills zombies. Therefore, he wished to simulate the same experience”
  • “We don’t know what else to put on this website, so we’ll just make up some shit to get more views”

Had the boy been extremely popular (a “jock” type for instance), the words from his classmates would not be “he was a loner. Really quiet. Weird,” it would be “he was so happy. Well-loved. Couldn’t ask for a nicer guy.” And the blame would have been on his parents instead. But people, and the media like The Daily Mail, blame video games because they don’t understand them, nor do they understand the people who play them.

These types of people who do not play video games also believe that people who do are:

  • Childish
  • Violent
  • Weird
  • “Nerds”

They also assume that because a game has an age restriction on it, children beneath that age can’t possibly play it without it having some kind of negative effect. That’s bullshit. The age restrictions on products is to protect brands, not children’s tiny minds. The violence of a game depends on the mental age of the child, not the physical age.

Video games are not to blame here. So stop trying to censor creativity, and the freedom the rest of us have to do something that we love.

The only violence video games cause is when that horrible message comes up:

And you take a swift kick at your PC/Xbox/PS3, cursing and secretly feeling ashamed because it made you that mad (but how did that biker get away?! He was right fricking there!)




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