Please note this is just the opinion of Kevin Jung and any responses can be made in the comments section below. Thank you.
On December 14th, 2012, an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut was morbidly and disgustingly attacked when it faced a shooting. A lone gunman went to the school and attacked faculty and the students, leaving 28 dead, including 20 children. I was saddened to hear the news of this, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this heinous crime.
With a nation grieving, people sought to find the identity of the perpetrator online, and they did. At least, the person whom they believed had committed the crime. When searching through the Facebook profile of Ryan Lanza, people noted him liking the Mass Effect page on Facebook. And then the shit hit the fan.
Many people flocked to the Mass Effect page citing the game itself, and video games in general caused the school shooting. These people proclaimed the creators behind it are sick and games like Mass Effect need to stop being produced because it will lead to real-world violence.
Before we start the real discussion here, let me note a few things. Mass Effect is not the victim. I am in no way implying video games are more tragic than the real life tragedy witnessed today. More people need to know the serious reality about today’s attack and think about it. I just want to focus on a topic that has constantly plagued these subjects before. Are we all set? Great, let us get into it.
X Caused Y, And Video Games Are The X
For as long as I could remember, the notion of video games causing real world violence was silly to me. I believe it was around the seventh or eighth grade when that idea started to solidify in my mind. I heard it all before, the first being Columbine was the direct result of their constant video game playing. Most of the evidence against the argument proved it wrong, including maps created by a gunman resembling the high school, which later were later found untrue. The media latched on the idea that the gunmen played Doom and Wolfenstein 3D for hours on end to practice their shooting abilities. There was no way to prove it, but they reported it. Each subsequent shooting has brought upon the same headlines, “Video Games Shot Up a School.”
The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech was quickly followed by Jack Thompson stating on Fox News video games were the problem. Jack Thompson made those statements with absolutely no proof at all. In the end, we found out Cho did not even play the games he was cited as playing which turned him into the killer that struck.
Maybe It Is The Person, Not The Product
My own personal belief about all of this video game violence talk is, it’s bullshit. I said it, it’s bullshit for believing it, you’re ridiculous for thinking it, and the more you blame it without proof, the stupider you will look. The evidence I always point to is the sheer number of people who are playing games, and violent ones at that. If video games truly caused violence, wouldn’t the 7.5 million people who purchased the newly released Call of Duty: Black Ops II be out committing violent acts? The fact so many violent games release in a certain period of time, and major violent acts don’t rise with it, should be substantial evidence against games being a major influence on a person.
This time around, Mass Effect is getting the blame from ill-informed people searching for a cause to the attack. I play Mass Effect, my co-writer Michael plays Mass Effect, our partner Eric loves the Mass Effect series. Yet, we are all mentally stable people. I have never played Mass Effect and thought about taking another human being’s life, or to be just like my hero Shepard and go out and fight to save the world. Because, I know that is not reality. It is just a fantasy that is played on a disc and displayed on my TV. If I have been fine while playing Mass Effect to not be affected by it, how can the game cause an act as December 14th’s shooting?
We have to realize maybe it’s the person, and not the product which causes these things to happen. Murder is not crafted by the games we play and the shows we watch, it is of one’s own mind.
The End of The Line
I could go into detail more, but for now this is what I wanted to say. I want to bring the focus of blame into the eyes of the public and not in the media. People like you and me, who are left uninfluenced by the media telling us what they want us to know, will build a better place for those who are affected by media bias. Because it starts with me blogging, and then you blogging, and soon, we’ll reach a network of like-minded individuals who can have a strong voice in this topic. So I hope you share this, and use this as a place to start thinking about the media and its coverage of video game violence and its effects. I encourage you to read books, and educate yourself in the subject.
I hope you all comment and respond with your own opinions down below so we can continue this discussion, I would love your input. If you would like me to expand on my thoughts, please tell me, and I’ll work on a more detailed look into all of this.