Credit: Owen Meldon

It has been circulating through the country that video games are a direct cause of violence. This topic has caught fire following the most recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

This has always been a relevant topic of discussion for people on both sides of the argument.  This is so influential to American society that some top tier businesses such as Wal-Mart have stopped advertising violent video games to try and combat the violence that they think derives from them.

Furthermore, politicians—including the current president, Donald Trump—have denounced violent video games and blamed them for the spike in shootings across the nation. So are video games the culprit for all this violence?

No, video games are not the culprit of this recent spike of violence in the nation. Video games are played by millions and millions of people, and these millions of people do not all have the urge to kill people just because they have played “Call of Duty” before.

The urge to kill somebody has to do with the person and their issues. People that choose to murder innocent people do not do it because they did it before on their television screen with a PlayStation controller in hand, they do it because of these said issues, whether it be mental or emotional trauma. One would have to do extensive research on the individual to truly see their motives for performing such an inhumane attack.

Personal Experiences:

Thomas Jagoda: I have been playing video games since I was 2 years old. I’ve played video games of all genres including ones where the player is operating a firearm and shooting other players.

I have never been an aggressive person. I have never even wanted to injure another person, or on a larger scale, use a firearm and kill that person. I am not an individual who has had trauma in their life or suffers from a mental illness, so no violent video games have influenced me to want to kill another human. People who do have these kinds of thoughts or issues are more likely to feel the urge to do these horrific things, but I have never run into these problems in the past.

Evan Sharrard: I enjoy playing a plethora of video games, none of which have influenced me to be violent toward others in real life. Some games that come to mind for me (that would likely be assumed to cause violent behaviors) are “Call of Duty” and “Halo.”

While “Call of Duty” is much more of a realistic game series than Halo, it’s obvious to me that I’m playing a video game in which I would never imitate in the real world. “Halo,” on the other hand, is a game where you either play as aliens or “spartans” (which are the closest living things in Halo to humans) battling against one another. While those who look at the fundamental idea of both these games might think that the objective in the game is to kill other people, however, the real goal is to beat the other team in multiplayer. (This can be done in various game modes such as Domination, which is where the team to control a certain area on the playing field the longest wins the match.)

“Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” is a game where the player assumes the role of Navy Seal David Mason, on his mission to take down a terrorist group run by Raul Menendez, who plots to launch missiles all around the world. The overall goal of “Black Ops 2” is to stop a terrorist from committing mass genocide, rather than killing people for sick pleasure.

The overall message that should be taken away from personal experiences of these violent games is that they bring friends together for multiplayer fun and bring players on a mission to save the world for the better.

Another factor for this “spike in violence” across the nation is the emergence of digital media from the increased connectivity the world is experiencing. In the 1970s, it was unlikely that the average American would hear about the most recent public shootings that took place nowhere near them.

For example, somebody who lived in San Francisco would likely not hear about a shooting in Miami unless it was massive and covered on a national scale. Today, with the introduction of social media, people can learn about an event that is ongoing or something that just happened, rather than waiting for a newspaper or news report either later in the day or the next day.

Social media also allows for the connectivity of different countries and communities around the world. This connectivity has led to the enlightenment of average Americans in both a positive and negative way.

Social media gives us a look at celebrations like Circus de Soleil in Brazil, but it also exposes us to tragedies around the world like terrorist attacks in Jakarta, Paris, and Manchester.

While many people (especially people of older generations who have never played a video game before) believe that violence in video games is the root of the increase in violence, there may not be a spike in violence nationally nor around the world. The new interconnectedness of the world has likely led to more stories of shootings and terrorist attacks than what would have been possible before the introduction of digital media and the internet.

Video games are not the root of the “increased” violence around the United States or the world. It turns out that there may not be an increase in violence, as it may just be that the interconnectedness of the world has resulted in people being more in tune with tragic events around the world. Of the few people who do decide to senselessly kill people, it’s because of their issues unique to them that derive from emotional problems or clinical mental illnesses.

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