Violence in video games is a hot topic right now, and for understandable reasons. While video games have maintained (some would argue increased) their violent story lines and game-play, violence in the world has also increased. Some may argue both feed off each other while desensitizing people into blood-lust. Others would argue that theory as sensational and reactionary. Personally, I feel the argument is ignoring other contributing factors connected with the increase of violence in society. It’s too easy to blame video games, television or other media and entertainment sources. It’s much more difficult to point the finger at ourselves.
It all starts with how children are introduced to video games. Is it with the support and supervision of strong parents? In today’s society, it’s hard to imagine support and supervision are existent in all of the homes of these children. The majority may have these conditions… but what then about the minority? Those children left to their own devices and upbringing through “wireless” parenting. Those without a support structure to explain the experience. Those children lacking proper adult supervision in picking an age or maturity level appropriate video game. Even if this is a small sample of the overall picture, who’s to say they are not the recent mass murderers we've unfortunately seen increase?
In a strict analysis of the influences of the recent violence in society, another variable must be considered. Another aspect of society that has increased alongside violence is the drastic increase of psychiatric prescriptions. Medicines such as Ritalin, Zoloft, and Prozac are being prescribed at an alarmingly increasing rate over the past twenty years. The exponential increase of prescriptions for these as well as other similar medications is not shocking. With large Pharmaceutical companies greasing the pockets of doctors and research institutes, of course the general population would eventually succumb to these medications. Yet there is significantly less scrutiny connected with medications as there is pointed towards the video game industry.
What about those that need psychiatric attention, yet are not receiving it? Does our current Mental Health system have the capability of recognizing violent tendencies in the population? Some would argue there is no way to possibly diagnose mental health risk, whether early on or later in adult life. School systems have the potential to assist with this, but due to lack of funding I doubt this is even discussed. It’s entirely possible that more mentally ill people are slipping through the cracks due to lack of funding or capability in recognizing mental health issues in people. This is equally as critical of a variable in the recent violence as video games. Yet, when was the last nationwide fund-raising or politically-charged campaign ran for mental health?
There may not exist a single, conclusive, cause of the mass violence in society. This article is not designed to suggest anything other than the fact that there are many different variables to discuss in the debate. The intention of this article is to simply suggest that perhaps the scrutiny pointed towards violent video games would be best served elsewhere. If I may suggest a place to start, I’d recommend starting with questioning ourselves and our own households. Do the children in the house play age and maturity appropriate games? Do they have the right support structure that instills a difference between the video games they play and real life? Are the medications we and our children take properly designed and thoroughly researched? Are they absolutely necessary? Are we properly diagnosing, treating, and stabilizing mental health and illnesses? Are we doing what we personally can to stop the violence? After we have truthfully answered these questions, we can then start discussing violence in video games. But only then.