The debate on whether or not video games are to blame for children’s destructive behaviors has been circulating for years, yet President Donald Trump recently insisted on tackling the subject once again. Contrary to the hundreds of scientific studies that essentially mute this argument, I do feel that video games affect all players in some way. However, psychopathic tendencies and killer instincts aren’t bred from playing a few matches of “Call of Duty.”
Recently, Trump and a team of critics met with video game industry executives to discuss how video games are corrupting the youth of America. Not much is known as to what exactly was discussed during the meeting, and only second-hand accounts could be quoted. The meeting garnished the attention of several news sites and produced headlines that unanimously agreed that this debate serves as a distraction from making schools safer.
Trump also seems to forget that this argument has been struck down several times in the past ten years alone.
“Blaming video games for the ills of society has a long, extensive history in courts,” Ben Kuchera, a reporter at Polygon, said. “Trying to argue that the games are at fault when it comes to school shootings isn’t going to lead to any substantial changes, and we need to move forward in some area to make schools safer. Going back to failed arguments from 2011 doesn’t help anyone.”
“Sadly, the debate over violent video games’ influence rages on year after year,” Scott Steinberg said in an article in USA Today. “But more than the actual games themselves, we should be more worried about pigeonholing and demonizing one of the most engaging and uplifting art forms of the 21st century – one kids happen to adore.”
As the argument is specifically about violent games, I won’t go into the vast amount of video games that span across dozens of genres and focus on puzzle solving or adventure. Instead, I’ll say that violence in video games is almost essential to crafting a magnificent, meaningful experience for players because of the message that’s promoted through violence.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s hardly ever violence in games without reason. Award-winning title “The Last of Us” features the beheading of undead corpses and metaphoric killings of other human beings. Even the infamously violent “Grand Theft Auto” series depicts minor carnage and sometimes outrageous scenarios out of humor or to achieve a satirical effect.
The fact is that these violent acts do and will continue to occur whether or not children are to blame. There is a conclusive argument that violence in entertainment can desensitize children to extreme cases of violence, and while I do agree with this sentiment, I also feel that exposing children to violence allows them to differ between what is right and wrong.
Much like cartoonish violence in long-running titles such as the “Final Fantasy” series, the stories that surrounds ancient, magical wars heavily follow themes of “light vs. dark” and “justice vs. injustice.” In this way, video games allow impressionable individuals to experience the wonder of fighting for true justice rather than bathing in the carnage that politicians perceive video games to be.
“Happily, millions of happy and healthy children, many of whom have grown up with controllers in hand over the years and are now becoming parents themselves, promise an impending end to the ongoing debate,” Steinburg said. “Sick of hearing about video game violence? Don’t quit this raging multiplayer battle early: It’s only a matter of time before calmer heads (and thumbs) prevail.”
While there is some merit in detached adults and politicians having concern over the mental health of gamers, it comes down to guardians and friends assisting gamers in understanding the lessons that games teach through their display of violence. As a form of digital literacy, video games provide an evolving source of entertainment that continues to be analyzed and praised by scholars for their ability to affect people unlike any other form of media. Debates will continue to be waged, but only by informing others on the massive influence of video games will this war truly be won.