Video Games: A Contemporary Scapegoat Essay

3184 words - 13 pages

From character to character, the brutal kills range from ripping out spines to slicing the opponents straight in half to chopping off foe's arms. They were all just obeying the thunderous voice rumbling, "Finish him!" This is Mortal Kombat – one of, if not the, most popular fighting game franchises ever created. At its conception in 1992, it was hit with a hard wall of controversy for its heavy use of gore and the general fear it would influence children to reenact these so-called “fatalities” in real life. Ever since the 1970s, man was finally able to interact with the screen, creating a universe written in ones and zeros. However, does the screen speak back to us, and cause effects outside of the console? Though video games have widely been blamed by the media for motivating violence, they do not in fact cause violence, but instead serve as just another media platform under scrutiny as many mediums before them.
Games have miniscule, possibly even absent, scientific evidence for causing violence. Even though games do cause some aggression in laboratory studies, it is the same aggression that comes with any other competition, such as sports (Jayson). Whether the game in question is a frustrating Mario level or a difficult Grand Theft Auto mission, the aggression is not caused by the content. This is also a case of causation vs. correlation – do violent games cause violent people, or do violent people just choose violent games? Certainly, it’s the latter. If an individual is already obsessed with, say, rape, he or she will pursue media on that subject. In reality, the rate of school shootings has actually dropped since 1994, while the popularity of video games has exploded (Gerdes). Also, the results inside a laboratory do not always easily translate to the real world. A new parent may be frustrated with a crying baby, but of course that does not mean they actually wish to commit harm (Gerdes). Even with the common shooter profile of “young male, suicidal, and depressed,” there are too many false positives. There is, nor will there ever be, a way to certainly predict a shooting. As a society, we just try to endlessly blame other causes, while, in fact, we just need to stand up and take responsibility. The game industry will not outright censor itself over what those with damaged personas would do.
Now, violence in games does not just exist for the sake of bloodshed. Violence in games is not any worse than that founds in other forms of media such as movies, music, and television. Ever since the hunter-gatherer days, humanity has been partially hardwired to crave violence. From gladiator fights to public executions, people have always flocked to the scene of the carnage. Admittedly, a normal citizen nowadays would be much more able to access violence at his or her fingertips – turn on the radio, and Jay-Z blasts on the Top 40, rapping about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Power on the television and the entire wedding congregation is massacred on Game of...

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