I’m not writing to defend violent video games like Call to Duty and Grand Theft Auto. I’ve never played them, so I can’t speak for or against them. But I do agree that games that engage players in egregious violence against innocent human and animal characters and in role playing felons should be kept out of the hands of children. Moreover, I fully support funding, with federal dollars, research on the relationship between gun violence and violent video games.
What troubles me (and I‘m far from alone on this) is the effort by some people to move the conversation away from stronger gun-safety and background-check laws and toward blaming violent video games. Just today, for example, Senator Grassley “argued that legislation must address violence in video games and said that ample research underscored that the expired ban on assault weapon[s] had been ineffective” (New York Times). Odd, isn’t it, that the children in Newtown, the Sikhs in Oak Creek, and the movie-goers in Aurora were killed by semiautomatic weapons with high-capacity magazines, not by video games.
Adam Sessler, in today’s Examiner.com, is quoted as saying, “When tragedies like this happen … I think that people tend to go to what feels most alien, what feels most different and is changing in the society. In this case, it’s video games.” Not so long ago violence on TV and in movies was seen as the culprit – and before that, Sessler notes, in comic books. I think Sessler’s onto something: video games are probably quite alien, and perhaps threatening in some way, to people like Senator Grassley and NRA CEO LaPierre. I wonder if they’ve ever played a video game. If not, perhaps they should give it a fair try.
For fun, check out this satire, “NRA Defends Right to Own Politicians.”
*The three screenshot slices were taken in the video game World of Warcraft.