I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. When I was 15 years old, my first big purchase upon getting a part-time job was a PS2. One of the games I purchased along with the console was Grand Theft Auto III, and from that moment, my love of video games turned into a near obsession.
For those who may be unaware, GTA III was, at the time, one of the more violent video games available, and was one of the games that helped to ignite what should be a resolved issue by now: the correlation between video games and violence in those who play them.
I have played the GTA series almost religiously since I was 15, and somehow, I’ve never been tempted to grab a grenade launcher and scale a rooftop. The thought of going on a killing spree is not something that I have ever contemplated. And the reason I’ve never gone on a murderous rampage is because I am a well adjusted person who knows the difference between what’s real and what isn’t.
In light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a certain American president, who shall remain nameless (hint: it rhymes with Ronald Chump), decided that the video game industry was to blame for what has become an epidemic south of the border. He even met with video game industry leaders recently to discuss the connection between violent games and mass shootings. Simply put, rather than addressing the real cause of the problem, he’s chosen to appoint the video game industry as a scapegoat.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened. It’s a tale as old as time, older than GTA III. It’s a notion that has been put to bed numerous times, yet it gets resurrected any time gun violence returns to the forefront.
The truth is that there has never been any conclusive scientific evidence suggesting that the link between violence in video game and violence in real life is anything but fabricated. Numerous studies have been done on the subject and the verdict always comes back the same.
According to an article published by www.sciencedaily.com on Jan. 18, a recent study of more than 3,000 participants conducted by the University of York in the U.K. showed that “video game concepts do not ‘prime’ players to behave in certain ways and that increasing the realism of violent video games does not necessarily increase aggression in game players.”
Another truth is the fact that violent video games get played all over the world, yet only in the United States is there such a problem with gun violence. Violent music has often been attributed to causing violent rampages. Following the Columbine massacre in ’99, shock-rocker Marilyn Manson was thrust into the spotlight when it was discovered that the gunmen listened to his music. But Germany is home to some of the darkest gothic music in the world and doesn’t have this problem.
Any psychologist who didn’t get their degree from a cereal box will tell you that anybody who plays a violent video game, watches a violent movie or listens to violent music, then goes on a murderous rampage suffers from a pre-existing mental illness. The difference between myself and a mentally ill, assault rifle-toting lunatic who played the same video games is my ability to tell the difference between reality and fiction. I was taught the value of life, therefore I could never take one away from another person. I have almost two decades of playing violent video games under my belt, and I have never had, nor will I ever have, the urge to do what countless others have done in the United States.
It’s time to stop looking to place the blame for gun violence on video games and other forms of entertainment, an industry that actually provides an escape from the horrors of the real world. The real problem plaguing Americans right now, and everybody knows it, is a lack of gun control and access to mental health services. To suggest otherwise shows a complete lack of understanding of the bigger picture.