No link between violent video games and violence

Phil Weigel, Minot

In the August 1st newspaper, there was an editorial cartoon that depicted a gun with the bullet magazine being a video game controller, trying to tie video games to mass shootings and violence in youth.

Can we stop this lie? Right now?

While I’m certain that no one in the Minot Daily News drew that image, they did choose it for that cartoon, and that’s disheartening.

There has been study after study since 1992 and there has been ZERO links between violent video games and violent actions.

In fact, since 1992, violence in youth has decreased at a similar rate when compared to violent video game releases. In fact, gun violence has gone down in the U.S. since the 1980s. And before someone points it out, yes, mass shootings have increased since the 1980s, though no one is sure why when over-all violence and crime rates have gone down, which includes gun violence. By the way, hammers, knives, suicide, cars and bare fists cause more deaths each year individually than gun homicides do in the US.

Anyway, why do I bring up 1992? Because that was the year Mortal Kombat first came out. If don’t you know that series, it’s a fighting game series where the intent is to beat your opponent to a bloody pulp and then kill your opponent’s on-screen character in a very gruesome and bloody way that involves body parts and blood flying everywhere. It was so controversial that Congress had hearings about it and it led to the creation of the ESRB, which is the video game version of a movie rating.

There is no link between violent video games and violence that is enacted by young people. Pokemon has been around since 1999 and there hasn’t been an increase of people taking their family dogs, cats or chickens and having them fight other animals. Dungeons and Dragons has been around since the 1980s and even though there was the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, there was no massive increase of Devil Worshipers because of a table top fantasy game that’s played using dice, pens, paper and your imagination. Magic the Gathering has been around since 1993 and I don’t see a bunch of people going out and summoning Dragons or throwing lightning bolts around, do you?

And as for Mortal Kombat, I don’t see or hear about people trying to rip people’s hearts out of their chest or rip a person’s head off of their body very often, do you?

Fantasy is not reality. In fact, fantasy, especially ones that are dark and twisted, allows for people to deal with negative impulses without harming anyone else.

After all, if playing video games made you more violent, I would have murdered millions of people with guns and run over millions more with tanks thanks to Grand Theft Auto and Saint’s Row, but I haven’t done either of those, nor would I do that.

It’s time to stop demonizing new mediums, entertainment and ways of doing things. Elvis was demonized for his hip swaying when he sang his songs back in the day after all. Ed Sullivan had him on his program and only showed the top part of Elvis’s body when he sang because it was so controversial at the time. Trashy romance novels of the 1920s were demonized by older people back then. Go back far enough and you have people like Aristotle making similar complaints about young people that old people today are making about kids.