Do violent video games cause real violence?
Lately some desperate politicians/reporters have been blaming video games (such as Call of Duty and GTA) for causing real life murderosity (is that a real word? Spellcheck says it isn’t, so it can’t be, but it does look right).
Let’s look at this logically; the first modern video game is usually regarded as being Pong (1972), which looked like this:
|FUCK ASSASSIN'S CREED|
There were earlier electronic games dating back to 1947, although these were even more basic.
Now, I’m not an expert criminologist (although I bet I could buy some sort of dodgy degree off the internet), but I’m pretty sure that murder was invented a long time before that. Like, the 1400’s or something? In fact the Bible tells us that the first murder was committed by Cain before history was properly recorded, and Columbo hadn’t even been born yet to solve the crime. That’s if you believe the bible of course (hint: you shouldn’t).
History is full of people killing each other with a wide variety of implements for a wide variety of reasons, well before video games were invented. Attila the Hun (no, he wasn’t a Star Wars character), Hitler, Caligula and so on. Nutters the lot of them, and not one of them even had a glimpse of Pacman. So, unless some very irresponsible time travellers have been going back and giving people like Jack the Ripper access to God of War 2 or something, it seems obvious that the potential for murderosity (that really should be a word) has been with us all along. For those of you with a morbid disposition here is a list of serial killers who murdered before 1900: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_before_1900
A common argument when the subject of violent games or films arises is that “it set him off”, when referring to the latest case of some lunatic going bullet-crazy at a school or a military base or whatever. But what they have to realise is that these killers are unhinged. Harold Shipman killed well over two hundred people, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a Tarantino fan.
|"ACTUALLY I LOVED INGLORIOUS BASTERDS."|
There’s no telling what could provoke a mental person to violent acts. Yes, it could be a game that tips them over the edge, but for someone who thinks the voices in his head are coming from the angels that live in his kettle it could be anything that sets the ball rolling. A cartoon, a book, next door’s faulty car alarm, the shop running out of Jaffa Cakes (which is fair enough), a song, an advert. Anything. You can’t ban or put restrictions on everything that’s provoked a murder; it’s impossible. Here’s a list of things that have caused murder, should we ban all these?
Sport (arguments between fans has caused a number of stupid murders. No sport = no arguments)
Religion (caused untold hundreds of thousands of murders over thousands of years)
Sex/marriage (so called crimes of passion – jealous husbands and wives and so on)
Politics (by which I mean the desire for power)
Money/material possessions (a big motivator ever since they were invented)
And of course Avril Lavigne (http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/photogallery/killed-over-what.html?curPhoto=3).
In fairness, some people do think that last one should be banned.
|"THAT HURTS MY FEELINGS." "WE KNOW, AVRIL, AND WE DON'T CARE."|
So, what is the solution? I don’t think there is one, really. There always has been, always are and always will be people who are motivated to kill for any number of reasons. I suppose you could – in theory – psychologically profile everyone and isolate those who could possibly be motivated to murder and put them into induced comas and keep them in Matrix-style nutrient tanks. But that’s not only unworkable due to the amount of people but also morally wrong. And obviously those in power would abuse such a system to get rid of people who didn’t agree with their policies (or so called “right to rule”, which most of them believe they have - seriously, there isn’t a government on Earth that could be trusted).
|AN AVERAGE POLITICIAN|
Instead of trying to find something/someone to blame after something horrible has happened, why not look at stopping them happening in the first place? If someone says he’s hearing voices, the authorities should treat him as is necessary, not ignore him or show him the door because it costs too much or is a hassle to help him. If murders are being committed because of poverty, instead of waiting till the corpses are sprawled out, why not – oh I don’t know – eradicate poverty? Or work at altering society to lessen the obsession over wealth and material possessions? Murders inspired by religion? Ok, that’s a tricky one. Banning religion is unfair and would cause unbelievable strife. The only solution I can think of to that one is education; teach people to question things rather than blindly believe. Oh, and – at the risk of sounding like a filthy tree-hugging hippy – teach people (not just religious or young people, I mean everybody) empathy and how to be less greedy and selfish.
In conclusion, when it comes to murder, violent entertainment media should be a very low priority. There are much bigger issues to look at. Sadly, the politicians won’t look at these; they’ll just go for the easy scapegoat as usual.
Well, I don’t have all the answers of course.
But at least I ask the right questions.
Such as “why isn’t murderosity a real word?”