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Why Are We Still Talking About Video Games And Violence?

For some reason people find it hard to accept that maybe, as a species, we are inherently violent. Our societies are built on this violence. Wars created the nations we live in today long before video games. But perhaps video games pose another problem.

by Gary Knipe

Every decade seems to have its own scapegoat when people are in search of something to blame for an act of seemingly senseless violence. For some reason people find it hard to accept that maybe, as a species, we are inherently violent. Our societies are built on this violence. Wars created the nations we live in today. Our history is almost entirely made up of violence. So why do we keep searching for something in our modern societies, when violence is as old as history?

Source: Heather Mount on Unsplash

Music has always been at the forefront when notorious acts of violence have occurred. Heavy metal music seems to be a favourite and easy target. Marilyn Manson had to cancel his shows after the columbine incident. Slipknot was blamed for a Samurai sword attack in Krugersdorp, South Africa. Rap music has also found itself as a target and been blamed for many incidents of violence both public and domestic. Even The Beatles weren’t safe, as Charles Manson claimed to have heard subliminal messaging when listening to their music.

Fast forward a decade and suddenly the new popular form of entertainment gets the blame. Violent movies were the big villain not so long ago. Popular phrases like ‘cultivate a culture of violence’ get thrown around quite a lot, but like I’ve mentioned before, history shows that violence has always been a part of human culture. Does watching violence on screen tempt people into committing violence themselves?

The new mean kid on the block is violent video games. Although not a new phenomena, since violent video games have been blamed before, people were still relatively ignorant to the hobby. Now that video games have reached the height of popularity they’re more frequently mentioned when acts of violence occur. The difference between music, movies and games is apparent. Music you only hear, movies you hear and see, but video games combine the two with something a lot more intense: making an actual decision and acting out the violence. As a player you can decide to kill an image on the screen and act it out by clicking a button. It’s a very big step from just listening or watching, but can we say without a doubt that video games ‘cultivate a culture of violence’?

Source: Alex Haney on Unsplash

The research says no. No research has ever conclusively been able to link acts of violence to video games, or any other form of entertainment for that matter. In fact, lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski showed in his study that there is no link between video games and teenage aggression.

I have been playing video games, violent and otherwise, for thirty years. I have never
murdered, maimed or intentionally hospitalised anyone. I get mad at people, and often times wished harm on certain people, but are the video games I’ve been playing my entire life to blame for this? Absolutely not. These are normal feelings we all have as human beings. It’s not right to feel that way, but it is also not wrong. We simply cannot help ourselves. People who act out these feelings have much deeper psychological problems we are yet to thoroughly understand. Or maybe it’s the thousands of years of human violence still locked within our DNA.

Playing violent video games does not make you or your children more violent. This is not to say playing video games is entirely harmless, however. As a species we have become bigger than ever. Obesity is an epidemic we are unable to solve and yes, video games play a direct role in the levels of obesity in children. Children are no longer physically active. They would much rather sit inside and play Fortnite or Apex Legends than play outside or go ride their bike.

Source: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This is not healthy and we know this, so why are we not doing something about it? Let me be frank. Video games play a role in our declining health and the declining health of our children, but video games are not the root cause and can’t be directly blamed. Ultimately we make the choice to sit and play video games instead of getting exercise. We allow our children to sit in front of the TV playing games all day instead of acting like real parents and limiting their time playing games.

In short: It is easy to blame modern entertainment for all of our problems and much harder to accept the actual truth. We, ourselves, are to blame, and nothing else.

This story was written by a guest contributor, Gary Knipe. If you’d like to become a contributor for Essential Millennial, please contact us and we’ll make sure your stories are shared far and wide.

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