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.