Are Video Games to blame for US Gun culture?

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Billions of people buy video games all over the world, they are currently the most popular and most successful form of entertainment in modern society. You will probably read an endless drone of articles either condemning video games or questioning their ethical contribution to society, mostly from political and social journalists who a recent spate of shootings in US towns has led to much criticism of game violence and its impact on society. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander recently came out to say that “I think video games is [sic]a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people”. I know, hard hitting right. Well if this senators knowledge on video games is as well informed as his use of simple grammar, then his opinion on video game violence is extremely questionable.

Firstly, video games have affected me in an extremely positive way, I view them as a form of entertainment, sometimes even as a form of art. Games are an expression of freedom, they tell intriguing stories while also challenging the mind and skills of their audience. Games have given me the passion to pursue a career in journalism, and inspired me to write about things which actually mean something to me. Of course when you think of Alexander’s idea that “video games affect people” you kind of have to think well do guns not affect people? Is there a horrendous gang culture in the US because people played GTA San Andreas and thought it looked fun? Or is there some deeper social problem evident as well as the contentious issue that guns are readily available to purchase with minimal background checks? I don’t claim to be an expert on US society or politics, but if I know anything I know video games.

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If you are reading this article then no doubt you are a gamer, and of course you know that guns are a bigger problem than video games have ever been, there are millions of people who have bought games and not also bought a gun resulting in a heinous crime. 10,728 people were killed in the US from gun related crime in 2012 which I agree is a horrific and tragic figure. However, in the previous year 229.8 million units of video games were sold to US citizens. This kind of correlation doesn’t quite add up, any link made using these figures would be far too diluted to hold up as evidence that video games are to blame for gun crimes.

The other main argument related to video game violence is that these games are reaching a younger and younger audience. Australia’s gaming industry has been bold in banning some extremely violent games such as the latest Mortal Kombat, an extreme measure which I believe shows that a country’s government has a lack of trust in its citizens’ decision making abilities. Considering that you could find any kind of sick and twisted video on the internet, banning what is essentially a fantasy, fictional game from retail is pretty ridiculous. Also if you are a parent and you buy your under-age son or daughter a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or Mortal Kombat despite it’s age certificate then you’re parenting skills need to be questioned, any elicit pornographic DVD would bear the same age 18 rating as a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in the UK, if you were to give one of those to your children as a Christmas present then you’d likely be taken to court for your inability to care for your children, and quite rightfully burnt at the stake for your incompetence.

Of course it is much easier to point the finger at video games, rather than to notice issues in your own society. Video games are going to be used as a scapegoat every time a violent tragedy occurs in the US it’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean they are going to start banning them. Not only do Video games contribute substantially to an already failing economy, but the hypocrisy of banning a simple computer game before banning the firearm itself would show an unbelievable misunderstanding of the true problem in American gun culture as well as sacrificing one constitutional amendment for another.

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About Author

I have a keen interest in video games and technology. I write mostly about the best games and sometimes the worst. follow me on twitter @jakecov

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