It always angers me whenever I see the video game industry suffer because of a crime that had nothing to do with them. Fox News, CNN, and many other mainstream news stations (especially in America) love to somehow blame video games for shooting and other acts of violence.
Video games were blamed for the Columbine Shootings, simply because the shooters had played a few. The same could be said for every other school shooting since then. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and even DOOM have been at the forefront of the blame. It always seem to be the pro-gun activists who shift the blame from lenient gun laws to an industry no different than television and film.
As an avid video game player; I’m obviously rather biased towards them, willing to defend them in accusations such as these ones. Video games have changed my life significantly, and for the better too. Those who deem video games “evil” and “works of the Devil” always seem to have zero knowledge about them, other than a small summary about a single level in a Call of Duty game. These kind of people have no idea what they are talking about. The video game community isn’t just made up of loud-mouthed serial killers who analyse every kill in a typical shooter and attempt to use it in a real-life scenario to find out that they don’t have a health bar. A vast majority of gamers play games the same reason people watch movies: for entertainment.
I see video games as being just as – if not more – diverse, in terms of genre, compared to films. There are plenty of military shooters, yes, but there’s also the puzzle games, the narrative driven games, the sports and racing games, the laid-back city building games, the amazingly imaginative fantasy and sci-fi games that show the amount of depth writers are capable of creating and so many more. Call of Duty is not the only video game, neither is Grand Theft Auto – they may be the most popular but that doesn’t fully represent the gaming industry as a whole.
Video games are an art form that demands player interaction. Like films they can create beautiful stories that pull the heart-strings, however video games can explore this deeper. Because it is the player who takes control, the player can become the character, making it so that every emotion the character feels, so too does the player. In a podcast, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said that PlayStation 3 exclusive, and indie title, Journey was a game that got him “thinking about my grandmother who passed away a couple years ago. So that had [an] enormous impact on me emotionally“. I find it amazing how a game can bring take someone through an emotional journey like that. In that same podcast Shuhei talked about a letter from a girl who lost her father; “But during the process of her father dying, she was playing Journey. And she felt like she was going through that journey with her father and she was able to kind of overcome the difficulty“. To my knowledge no movie has achieved this effect on someone. This deep, personal emotion that comes to life through the medium of video games.
But I digress; shifting the blame from laws is a typical Republican scapegoat because they do not want to admit that their laws are flawed. Instead they would rather watch the alien video game industry to be severely regulated – which would cause it to shrivel up and die due to art being restricted – than see amendments to a system which clearly doesn’t work.