Cameron Koch: Video games not to blame for real violence

Cameron Koch

Our generation is sick. We are prone to irrational acts of violence and relish in the pain of others.

Or so many of the older generation would have us believe.

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and other recent shootings, politicians, parents and advocacy groups were quick to point out a new “culture of violence” corrupting our youth as a primary reason for mass shootings. They blamed violent movies and video games as desensitizing the masses into making us think that killing and murder are somehow O.K.

But here’s the thing – they are wrong.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, held a press conference Friday to address criticism and talks over stricter gun control laws. Rather than address an existing problem, LaPierre opted to direct criticism away from his group and instead blame something he understands nothing about.

“There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people,” LaPierre said.

He went on to name numerous violent video games such as “Mortal Kombat,” and even cited an Internet flash-based game by the name of “Kindergarten Killers” as a prized piece of evidence at how corrupt and sickly our youth culture is.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) has proposed a bill calling for a study on the effect of violent media on children.

“Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children,” Rockefeller said. “They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role.”

Both LaPierre and Rockefeller seem to think the entertainment industry is making it their goal to turn kids into killing machines. Does violent media have an effect on the developing minds of children? The answer is yes. But here is a brilliant observation – this violent media isn’t for kids.

In case you don’t know, movies have ratings. So do games. Certain films and games are not for children. This doesn’t mean that kids can’t get their hands on them. Just like underage drinking, where there’s a will, there’s a way. However, the responsibility ultimately falls to parents to know what type of media their kids are taking in, and whether or not they are mature enough to handle more mature content.

The NRA routinely speaks about how the vast majority of gun owners, millions upon millions of Americans, are law-abiding citizens who would never commit the heinous crimes like we’ve seen in the past year. It’s not the gun that kills people, but rather the people behind the gun, the group says.

Apparently, this argument doesn’t apply to violent media. Millions play “Call of Duty” every day on their Xbox or PlayStation to have a good time. Millions flocked to movie theaters to watch James Bond in his new film do what Bond does best – kill people. Do you see those same people rampaging throughout our country killing everything in sight? Of course not. We are law abiding-citizens, just like everybody else. We are just as disgusted and horrified by recent events as everybody else.

We know the difference between right and wrong. We know the difference between reality and virtual reality. I know I can’t dive through a window and land perfectly while shooting three bad guys in midair. I know I can’t magically heal bullet wounds by hiding behind a wooden crate. And I know killing is wrong, despite what I do for entertainment. The sooner the older generation catches up with the times and learns the difference between real and make believe, the sooner we can move on and address problems that actually exist. 

Editor’s note: Cameron Koch has previously written video game reviews for the Herald.