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Banning Video Games Will Not Save Children’s Souls

As in the case of guns, video games don't kill people. More: Video Games Are Good For Your Brain

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

April 25, 2013 - 7:00 am

Video games don’t come with loaded firearms.

Let us table, for at least a few paragraphs, the fundamental problem with Hoffmeister’s desire for government action. The notion that violent video games have some enchanting effect which leads to shooting rampages neglects to acknowledge the host of other real problems the perpetrators of mass murders repeatedly possess.

In Hoffmeister’s account of his hateful youth, he divulges several intolerable circumstances which should have alarmed the adults around him. He carried weapons both in and out of school, apparently without parental knowledge or meaningful challenge from school officials. He endured no discipline or follow-up after it was discovered he had brought a loaded, stolen handgun onto school grounds. He suffered from psychological problems, was diagnosed as a “failed joiner,” and had suicidal tendencies. He indulged in homicidal fantasies and began to carry a larger array of concealed weapons to school, including a sawed-off shotgun, a knife, and a hammer. Hoffmeister imagines that his life teetering on the abyss of criminal violence might have been given the final push had he been influenced, like the many rampaging shooters he cites, by violent video games.

Are we truly to believe that a child so misguided to begin with needs, more than anything else, to be kept from gaming? Hoffmeister’s own account admits that the eventual corrective influences in his life were healthy adult relationships and other “maturing experiences.” Does this not affirm that the best prescription for troubled youth is caring mentorship and reasoned guidance?

Hoffmeister hardly proves the best judge of the effect of gaming upon young minds. He admits to having no experience with it, and imagines an experience which fails authentication. He refers to gaming as “practice,” as if the average gamer regards their digital entertainment as practical training for a real-life experience.

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Top Rated Comments   
Thank you. I see too many people going "it's not the guns, it's the violent video games!" No, it's neither. It's bad people, bad parents, and the creep of moral relativism into our culture.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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As usual, Walter shreds the straw man and guides focus to the heart of the matter. Guns or games only become issues when that of abdication of parental responsibility is ignored.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lest we forget, it was the White Album that "caused" Charles Manson to incite murder to cause a race war. Why haven't we banned the White Album for the love of God!!!!!!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have many problems in our society and more laws is not the answer. Video games are not the problem.
We need real schools with real rules and real punishments and this takes real teachers and real parents all involved with the students.
In our throw away society we have thrown away our responsibility to our children, our schools and to our civilization.
Wake up and smell the coffee, Children need limits and adult supervision to grow up into real people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hollywood violence is worse than video game violence as the game provides feedback for failing to follow the rules (such as they are) There is concrete proof of Hollywood's accidental firearms training. Line soldiers pulled back for Rest & Recreation in Vietnam were sometimes given marksmanship testing and then refresher training. Against paper targets 50 meters away, they averaged pumping out 300 rounds a minute. Target scoring revealed they averaged one hit per minute. This is a worse hit record than the Continental soldiers with smoothbore flintlocks from the American Revolution. In the stress of live fire, the Army rifle training flakes off and they revert to the accidental Hollywood Marksmanship Training. They look fierce and spray like Rambo or George Peppard or John Wayne or whoever. By Vietnam days, the guys must have seen over 10,000 examples of Hollywood gun usage. Imitate Hollywood and you will not hit anything. If an officer would take any of those feckless shooters and scream into their face that they must shoot the Army way, then their target statistics go up by at least thirty times.

No studies are needed. The proof exists.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Related: my brother was a cop on the NYPD and worked a foot post in the 80s and 90s. He said more than once that he hoped whatever movies were teaching the hoodlums to hold their pistols sideways he really hoped they'd keep watching them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've been thinking about the debate over what causes young males to become violent and commit murders for some time, now. I'll be the first to admit I have no conclusive answers, but I wonder if it isn't that modern social norms are just contrary to the natural tendency of young males to be aggressive and engage in violent activities?

Boys are not permitted to play traditional violent games (cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians); they are severely disciplined for simply pointing their fingers at each other and saying "bang". This is suppressing their real nature; in nature young males of most species are the most aggressive and violent examples of that species. And there is no reliable safety valve for boys to let off this pressure. Athletics could be one way of safely channeling these tendencies. I wonder how many of the school shooters were active in athletics?

If we want to identify the culprit in these incidents, I think we need to look at the way our society tries to suppress natural aggressiveness in boys. I'm not claiming my theory is correct, but I do think it deserves serious consideration. Especially when it's clear passing laws banning guns or violent videos won't solve any of the problems.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Recall that just yesterday we had the story come out that, public perceptions to the contrary notwithstanding, violence is down in the last 20 years. We pointed out, correctly, that since gun ownership has gone up while gun violence has gone down it's now impossible to even argue correlation between the two, much less causation.

Well, you know what else has happened in the last 20 years? Video games have become FAR more sophisticated, and in some high-profile examples have become far more bloody and violent. If "Doom" caused the attack at Columbine then "Skyrim" should be inspiring a new axe murderer every few minutes. But it's just...not...happening.

Some people are just evil and/or crazy, and they'll hurt others because that's what evil, crazy people do. Blaming video games is silly.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Personally, I'm not sure which argument is correct. On the one hand, its likely there wasn't a chance people actually grow violent from playing violent video games. On the other hand, there's also a strong possibility/likelihood that it was. I remember Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty briefly mentioning in one key scene that Liberian children were exposed to Hollywood action films as "image training" to become ruthless killers (note, the main character, Raiden, was a former child soldier from Liberia), and since Kojima usually tries to incorporate social issues into his games, I suspect this sort of thing must have happened (he wouldn't have incorporated it otherwise). So far, I'm neutral on the issue. I'm a gamer, myself, though largely of Nintendo.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I recently watched, on A&E, an interview with Long Island serial killer Joel Rifkin. Same scenario - distant dad, bullied at school, etc. He said his turning point was seeing Hitchcock's Frenzy, about a serial strangler of women. It inspired him to become one himself. My point is the same as almost everyone else is making, should we burn all prints of Frenzy? And I, too, think the over-prescribing of psychotropic drugs should at least be looked at as a possible contributing factor to violence among boys.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ban chess. The game ends when the king is killed. A lot of "innocent" pieces are killed in the process.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excellent article.

The only thing I would add is that it's another example of something that is far too common in both politics and (sadly) science today - the conflation of cause and effect.

In this case, he's failed to even entertain the question: Do violent games make children violent, or are violent children drawn to violent games?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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