When I was growing up, I used to love to play Castle Wolfenstein and Doom. While playing those games, I fired every weapon that I could get my hands on and I killed a countless number of Nazis and demons.
In real life, I have never shot anyone nor have I ever been tempted to.
Later on, I discovered the Grand Theft Auto games. While playing those games, I’ve stolen a countless number of cars and I’ve run down a lot of people. Most of them I didn’t mean to run down. Everyone knows how difficult it is to go in reverse when you’re playing Grand Theft Auto.
In real life, I have never stolen car and I’ve never never run anyone over. Nor have I ever been tempted to.
That’s because I’ve always known that video games are not real life. Even when I was a kid, I understood that if someone died in real life, they wouldn’t just respawn and continue playing the game. I would say that’s true of 99.9% of all gamers. As for the .1% that doesn’t understand the difference, they have problems that started long before the played their first game.
Whenever there’s a mass shooting or any other traumatic act of public violence, people demand to know how it could have happened. Video games are always a convenient scapegoat. Many video games are violent and gamers are easy targets for the media to pick on. But this idea that little Johnny was perfectly normal until he played Call of Duty or Fortnite is ludicrous and everyone knows it. When I hear about a school shooter who spent hours playing a violent video game, I don’t care about which game he was playing. Instead, what I want to know is where were his parents while he was doing this? Too often video games are blamed because no one wants to admit that they either ignored all of the obvious red flags or they didn’t have the courage to confront what they knew was happening.
Video games are not to blame and neither are gamers. Using them as a scapegoat is not going to solve a thing. People with a propensity for violence are always going to seek out ways to be violent. Banning video games isn’t going to make that type of person any less violent. It’s just going to inspire him to find a new way to express whatever it is that’s going on inside his head.
Until we get serious and stop looking for easy targets to blame, the shootings like we saw this weekend are going to continue and they’re going to keep getting worse. Solely blaming video games — as if a mass-produced game is somehow more responsible for an individual’s actions than the individual himself — is not a serious response and anyone doing it is not a serious person.