You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't believe that evil exists in this world, especially in the wake of the recent events in Connecticut. The question is, how do we prevent such evil from running rampant? Is it even possible? Whenever something terrible like this happens, people immediately want to find something or someone to blame, and this time it's video games.
As such, we've seen a Violent Video Games Return Program, harassment from anti-gaming activists, and even action from the federal government. Should something be done? Should certain violent video games be banned? Before I attempt to answer these questions and defend the industry, let's first take a look at the potential dangers of interactive media.
The difference between video games and, say, movies or television is the direct input required by the consumer. Watching a movie or reading a book is a passive activity (the only "choice" the reader or watcher has is refusing to turn the page or watch another minute) in which you're being led through an experience created by the artist. On the other hand, video games are defined by player interaction as well. Witnessing something horrific and being the cause of that action are two very different things, even if both are completely fake and intended for entertainment purposes.
The other incredibly important point to bring up is how impressionable young minds are. Children don't process things the way adults do, so when they're subjected to instances of graphic violence or sex, that can seriously mess them up on both an emotional and mental level. Mature video games should stay out of the hands of children. Period. For whatever reason (be it bad parenting or complete ignorance) kids are getting access to content that they have no business playing. As a society, we need to wake up and recognize that not all video games are for kids. Seriously, I'm sick of it.
All right, now let's take a look at why blaming games for the world's violence-induced tragedies is downright ridiculous. Can we all agree that some people require mental help? If you answered "yes," then I'm willing to bet that you'd also agree that without proper treatment, some of us could be dangerous regardless of whether or not we play video games. This, along with easy access to guns, was why the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary took place. If there's anything we should be pouring our resources into, it's a way to improve the mental health of America, and perhaps a stricter form of gun control.
If we do want to further explore the effects of violent video games, we might as well do the same for music and movies. While these other forms of entertainment don't require input from the viewer/listener, they can be just as influential (if not more so) for various other reasons. First off, video games are completely fake. The characters in the games are total fabrications, and while that also may be the case with film and music, there are actual human beings behind those performances, humans who people look up to and in some cases even idolize. What's to stop a deranged mind from watching Ryan Gosling shoot someone in a movie and feel compelled to do the same because they want to be like him?
Do you see what I'm getting at here? Virtually every piece of violent content can be dangerous if the wrong person is subjected to it. Does that mean we should rid the world of all forms of violent entertainment? No, because not only is that unjust to the remaining 99.9% of the population that can handle it just fine, it wouldn't stop the mentally ill with a propensity toward violence anyway. I said it once and I'll say it again: Parents need to step up and take an interest in what their kids are playing. Also, those who know someone with mental issues need to get them some help. And, for the love of all that is good, recognize that this is a far more complicated issue that can't be boiled down to a single root cause.