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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

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Joe Biden's Meeting With Video Game Representatives On Gun Control Is A Waste Of Time

Posted on Friday, January 11 @ 09:19:57 PST by

In the continued government response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Connecticut, Vice President Joe Biden will be meeting with video game representatives today to explore broad cultural contributions to violent behavior.

Biden will also consult with other media representatives, with the Motion Picture Association of America saying that they "look forward to doing [their] party to seek meaningful solutions." The Obama administration wishes to place various bans on assault weapons, additional background checks, and restrictions of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

On one hand, it's great that the government is willing to hear the video game industry. On the other hand, the meeting itself is a subtle admittance that video games have an important impact on gun violence. It's a finger-pointing mess with every political group blaming each other for the so-called reasons for these mass shootings.

It happens every time something like this occurs in America, though it's obviously a deflection of several core issues, of the true contributors to violence and crime. There have been plenty of studies already done on violence and crime, and several key factors are poverty, a lack of education, single-parent families, stark socioeconomic inequality, broken families, and discrimination. The impact of movies, video games, and rap music pales in effect to those factors, particularly when you consider that other parts of the world like Canada and Europe are influenced by these forms of media as well but have generally lower crime rates.

I would argue that creating an atmosphere of fear, paranoia, and anger leads to a place where people feel too ready and justified to react violently. Combine the knee-jerk flight-or-flight response with the easy trigger of a gun and it leads to emotional reactions to perceived dangerous threats. In particularly, the Stand Your Ground laws in Florida can be abused and create an environment of "shoot first, ask questions later" without much repercussion. According to world crime stats, America is #1 in murders with firearms and #3 in murders committed by youths.

This will hardly be the only time video games are used as a easy scapegoat for violent crime, because it falls into the "monkey see, monkey do" fallacy. Just because the player is frequently rewarded for getting headshots and shooting lots of people in a video game doesn't mean that it's something that the player will do in real life. But it's exactly this kind of misunderstanding that is easy prey in politics. Unfortunately, what's easy in politics rarely leads to solutions to complex issues like violent crime.
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