Alex Birlo on August 9, 2019
Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America had recently spoken about the Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas shootings and in his speech said – as he likes to phrase things – that “grisly videogames” are glorifying violence across the nation…
Essentially it is the conversation to which politicians were returning time and time again, whenever a particularly awful shooting involving a teenager or a young person came up. It is always the same old argument, that “bloody first-person shooters negatively influence the young minds of this proud nation’s kids and make them go postal killing classmates”.
But in this case, it is an obvious attempt to divert people’s attention from real problems and pointing a finger elsewhere, even though there is barely any substance to the claim in this particular case.
The situation with the shootings is as such: Both in Dayton and El Paso the gunmen were young people, in their early 20s. The one in El Paso specifically, was a clearly racist 21 years old man, that even posted a manifesto on 8chan talking about a “Hispanic invasion” and that they will take over his “beloved Texas”. In addition to that, when he was apprehended he told the investigators that he wanted to kill as many Mexicans as possible.
Now tell me, how does any of this connect to video games? Because allegedly he somehow mentioned “Call of Duty” in his manifesto, among the heaps and heaps of racist comments about Hispanic immigrants?
Several statements were made later by officials from the video game industry. Such as Strauss Zelnick, chief executive of Take-Two – that have under their umbrella developers such as 2K and Rockstar Games – and from the Entertainment Software Association. In these statements, a point was brought up that it is irresponsible to blame mass shootings on video game developers. The phrase “entertainment is consumed worldwide, but gun violence is uniquely American” answers it all.
Yes, we do get frustrated when we lose a match of Rainbow Six Siege and the craziest of us might even kick the innocent cat that was just passing by. Games are being played for hundreds of hours at all levels of hard-core to casual, in countries all around the world, but none of them faces such “tragic levels of gun violence” as the US.
The thing is that the United States is a democratic country in which owning weapons is permitted to citizens regardless of military or police service. It is allowed to own a gun with the idea that it is allowed to be used in self-defense and in order to protect one’s property. But the reality is that the numbers have shown more of those guns being used to “kill the annoying neighbor” rather than self-defense.
Having the possibility to legally purchase and own firearms, regardless of a person’s occupation, professional or social responsibilities is bound to enable the most unstable of individuals in a society to cause harm.
The problem in this situation is that through simply blaming video games for “enabling” young minds to commit acts of violence the government and media are diverting attention from the roots of the problem. Schools, parenting, education in general – all these are contributing in an indisputably more substantial way to a child’s development than the hours he or she spends playing.
For as long as the United States exists, turns out that whatever they were doing was not an effective way to educate the young generation about the implication, responsibility, and consequences of the right to own a firearm. Instead in 1999 after the Columbine shooting they arguably first began blaming video games for the violent behavior of teens and young people.
The two gunmen were a pair of noticeably asocial teenagers that also took part in a group of your typical “High school weirdos” that called themselves ‘The Trench Coats Mafia’ wearing trench coats to school and having Nazi vibes to them, alongside sharing pipe-bomb recipes online.
Back then we herd one of the first-ever claims that video games had something to do with the shooting. Because apparently, the two teenagers liked playing Doom. Yes, and I am like talking about the 1996 “Final Doom” or it probably was the 1997 “Doom 64”.
This old-school shooter was awesome – let’s just remember for a sec – but to be honest even for back then, whenever you would kill an enemy, they would fall and turn into a pixilated mess that looked more like a pile of, something… rather than a corpse.
There was little to no realism to the game and it is doubtful that playing Doom taught them how to make propane bombs and then plan out how to mine the whole school and their bodies before committing suicide!
On any official arms regulation related website, any of you can see the statistics to understand the severity of the problem and the absurdity of blaming this simply on violent video games:
2015 Israel: Gun homicides – 55; Rate of gun homicides per 100,000 – 0.64.
2015 United States: Gun homicides – 12,974; Rate of gun homicides per 100,000 – 4.04.
Even with a smaller population, the ratio of gun homicides in Israel is so much smaller than in the United States. And do not forget that Israel is a country which is at an almost constant state of military activity and has racial, national and religious tensions no less than the US.
What I see, is a country with the second-highest level of gun violence in the world (first being Brazil), that instead of focusing on balancing restrictions on gun ownership and doubling down on education regarding the responsibilities of owning a gun, they decide to blame it mostly on violent media and video games.