Banning Video Games Will Not Save Children's Souls
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the most recent military first-person shooter in that franchise, sold 11.22 million copies in its first week of release. The previous entry, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, sold 13.45 million. Those numbers add up to the over 100 million units moved throughout the franchise’s history through 2011. It may not be clear just how many minors are playing these games. However, we can safely assume the number would impress. Of hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of school-aged gamers playing games like Call of Duty, should we not expect more than a handful to engage in murderous rampages if indeed the games are making them do it?
In truth, games do not serve as homicidal practice among mentally healthy gamers anymore than violent films, television, or books serve as homicidal triggers among mentally healthy patrons. The problems marbling the lives of disasters like Adam Lanza or Jeff Weise can be summed up in disengaged, absent, and incompetent parents, to say nothing of mental disorders.
Hoffmeister cites anecdotal testimony from his own students, who say that they routinely play video games for 30 or more hours per week. Accounting for sleeping, eating, and attending school, gaming consumes nearly every waking hour of their lives. Who is letting this happen?! Who provides the environment where this occupational gaming occurs? Can game developers really be held responsible?
In an effort which evokes Queen Gertrude’s line regarding too much protest, Hoffmeister insists he is not an anti-video game crusader. Be that as it may, he certainly advocates government action. The aim of Rockefeller’s bill, ordering government research into the effects of gaming on children, can only be to inform restrictive regulation. Like an environmental impact survey, it’s just a precursor to rationalize force.