Sky: Video games aren’t direct contributors to gun violence

Nathan Sky

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of the various shootings that happen in the U.S. — a troubled youth committing a horrifying action. While attention does fall onto the mental health and lifestyle of these individuals, it’s easy for society to be manipulated into assuming there’s a direct link between violence and video games, which isn’t fair.

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That isn’t to say that video games aren’t violent. Ever since the Entertainment Software Rating Board was created in 1994, the sole purpose of the organization has been to review and analyze video games to guarantee they are suitable and appropriate for various audiences. 

Ratings for video games include: E for everyone, E 10+, T for teen (13+), M for mature (17+) and A for adults only (18+). 

Where discrepancies appear is when uninformed parents assume that, by definition, an E 10+ through T is OK for their child. Parents deal with similar situations when it comes to movies. A PG-13 movie is generally rated to be appropriate for every 13-year-old, yet not every PG-13 movie is appropriate for every 13-year-old. 

According to Library Technology Reports, games like Grand Theft Auto are some of the top played games for middle school youth.

It’s easy for younger audiences to get access to video games that aren’t appropriate for their age — and this comes in many different forms. Through social pressure, younger people can be encouraged to ask for a game that everyone else is playing.

Parents may buy the game with little thought, and this is commonly how children are exposed to graphic themes present in mature games. It’s not the fault of the child that they are exposed to mature themes. Rather, it falls onto the parent for a lack of understanding of what their child is exposed to.

Getting oUT of work and loading up a game is no different from grabbing a beer to take the edge off.

There’s more to blame on our situation than just video games. Society is also at fault for contributing to the oversaturation of graphic media.

David Hayes, a member of Colorado State University’s Super Smash Bros. Club, believes that the link between gun violence and video games is confusing. 

“The topic itself, using gamers as a scapegoat, is not the real way to address the problem,” Hayes said. “A real way to address the problem is to have real political, intelligent discourse that can create something that will help people feel safe and create a safer environment for us to live in.”

Violence has always been a part of this world. Acts of hate and terrorism existed before the first video game, Pong, was released in 1958.

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“It personally makes me feel confused with how that philosophy came to be because violence has existed for ages,” Hayes said. “No one was going in playing Pong and coming out feeling like ‘I need to go be violent.'”

However, it’s easy to argue that video games provide a streamlined source of violence. With gaming being as popular as it is, it reaches a large demographic. Yet that argument holds no bearing when one considers that other sources contain just as graphic content — if not more. 

Further research from Library Technology Reports showed that “boys who didn’t regularly play video games were more likely than even boys who played M-rated games to get into fights.”

Most people who enjoy gaming are those that use video games to cope with the daily stresses of life. Getting out of work and loading up a game is no different from grabbing a beer to take the edge off. Unfairly subjecting gamers into the violent minority only hurts those around us when we should encourage acceptance and community at CSU.

Tom Ferrer, the organizer of the CSU Super Smash Bros.’ weekly tournaments, argues that those who play video games are well-adapted in handling conflict.

“Even with the people I interact with, I haven’t had any problems in the community,” Ferrer said. “Everyone is very kind to each other. If there are problems, people address them and get to the bottom of it before it turns into passive or active aggression.”

The misunderstanding and hate subjected toward the gaming community not only hurts the uninformed, but the people behind the controller. While I cannot deny that popular shooters may desensitize gamers from the real world acts, it’s not enough to generalize that someone picking up a controller to relax is the same as someone picking up a gun to harm people.

Being exposed to violent themes is simply not enough to turn a person into a violent criminal. Exposure to these themes can desensitize these acts of crime and violence and make the act of them easier, but this is not a fair generalization to put on video games as a whole.

Nathan Sky can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NathanSky97