The gaming community has been keeping a close eye on the highly publicized shooting incident right here in our own little backyard. Unfortunately, lots of wild speculation tumbled out of people’s mouths. The moment someone mentioned that he “played video games”, several media outlets just waiting for that tidbit went and immediately blew it completely out of proportion labeling all these “violent video games” we gamers play as an evil to be purged from our lands.
I’m sure someone will come up with a controversial Flash-based game and publish it based on these events. It’ll probably have horrible controls, audio, and graphics and get rated a 1-star game by the Flash gaming community where it would naturally disappear into oblivion. People who won’t even play it through, nor any other video game for that matter, will call it tasteless and publicly demand it be taken down despite only 100 people having played it. Those stories will then get the sensationalist media treatment which, in turn, will cause more people to play it out of curiosity than if it had been left well enough alone.
There have been seemingly countless studies done regarding violent media, including video games, and violent tendencies. No study ever conducted has conclusively determined that video games are the cause of violence in individuals. Other studies regarding violence in television and movies have also always come up with similarly inconclusive results.
Blaming video games is the easy, popular way out of pointing the real blame where it belongs. At ourselves. That’s a harder pill to swallow. “But I didn’t know Jared! I can’t blame myself for that!” is what we say. But that’s why it is so hard to point blame at ourselves. Because we don’t know someone, it must be someone else’s fault.
Everything I’ve read says that no one actually reached out to this kid to be his friend. People say he was socially awkward, but that is a lousy excuse to avoid a friendship. Friendship invokes change. I know several people myself who are very socially awkward but I try to build friendships with everyone I see regularly and I encourage my more socially awkward friends to be less so – and they are changing and making more friends in the process. I’ve seen it time and time again – it only takes one real friend to prevent a tragedy.
Video games are an outlet for stress. They are much better than blowing up and doing something we later regret. Interestingly, as the number of gamers grow nationally, the amount of violence decreases annually over time. Many have predicted the opposite from their psychological armchairs but have since been proven wrong. I attribute it to video games and general entertainment being such a valuable outlet for so many people. But, it is still important to balance video games, movies, and other entertainment with the rest of one’s life. Hanging out with friends and helping other people are far more important things to do than staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Therefore, the smart thing to do is split your schedule so you get some quality video game time but also get some quality real-life time too. Today is an absolutely beautiful day outside in sunny, warm Arizona. And it is only the middle of January. Go enjoy the great outdoors with your friends.
Hug a friend today.
Feeling adventuresome? Maybe hug a cactus as well.