The Fucking Video Game Violence Debate. Again.

picarddoublefacepalmHere we fucking go again.

In the wake of the shooting deaths of 26 people in Newtown, CT – 20 of them kids – the gobshites are out again, never ones to let a perfectly good tragedy go to waste. While my state, and a community of people I know well, recover from something no one can ever truly recover from, the talking heads have been out with newfound fuel to talk about their favourite pet projects, thinking that there’s support for them now for the sake of the children. Therefore, once again, video games have had the spotlight shone on them, largely by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about but damnit, the children!

It started literally hours after the shooting with Keith Ablow, best known for being loudly and roundly criticized for diagnosing psychological issues of celebrities he’s never met, was on Fox News stating that video games had something to do with the murder. We weren’t even sure who the killer was – this was just before this same channel linked the Facebook page of Ryan Lanza, Adam’s brother, and called him the killer – nor did we even know how many bodies there were outside of the Principal and Psychologist, but damnit, it was those evil video games. That was followed by disbarred and disgraced former attorney Jack Thompson sending out an email to anyone who would listen, stating that blood was on the games industry’s hands. The parade continued, culminating in Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) putting in a bill that would direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the direct link between violence and video games, despite the numerous private studies done to that effect, many of which have the link as spurious at best. Even Joe Lieberman, who led the charge against violent games back when Mortal Kombat – yes, the first one – was new, is at it again, despite the indisputable fact that everyone hates him.

First off, it’s important to note that the motivations of people like Joe Lieberman and the windbags on talking head shows are not anything about the kids. It’s about a chance to put forth something they’ve been whining about for decades and score political points, while getting their names out into the press. These are people who, deep down, get excited when they see something like a mass shooting of six year olds, because then it means they get to be on TV again. I’m surprised that they were able to pull it off without their eyes spitting out dollar signs like Scrooge McDuck having an orgasm.

However, thanks to these people, once again, people in my industry have been having a discussion about video game violence. Of course they are – it’s a hot topic, and Google News is our friend – but we’ve been there and done that many times over. Naturally, being the video game industry, we’re talking in a wind tunnel – we all grew up with violent video games – but it feels good to rail against the Liebermans and Thompsons of the world. Forget the fact that the Supreme Court has already ruled on this subject, and that studies on gaming’s addictive traits have been well documented; we’re going to talk about it again.

This does literally nothing to further the cause of preventing school shootings in America. Instead of talking about the things we must – the conditions of our mental institutions, the prohibitive costs of mental health care, the stigma of mental health that prevents many from seeking it, and the discussion about our gun culture and how the collective fetish for guns in America leads to staggering fatalities across the country, these would all be good starts – we talk about fucking video games. I don’t know why. We had this conversation for a long time, and we won. We won in a conservative Supreme Court, to boot! Why? Are we going to let scumbags like Keith Ablow determine what we do?

Instead of trying to do my own thinking and writing about the shootings that have shaken my community to the core, I have to waste a night writing about this insane, tired and utterly fucking boring video game violence “debate”. It’s not even a debate anymore, it’s mostly just people yelling at each other, which we all saw coming once it was politically acceptable to profit off the corpses of 20 dead children. It makes me wonder if, in writing this, I’m entering the trap myself, but I’m a writer; sometimes, we just need to vent in the way we do it best.

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Christopher Bowen

About Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus. Before opening Gaming Bus in May of 2011, he was the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN, a lead reporter for DailyGamesNews, and a reviewer at Not A True Ending, also contributing to VIMM, SNESZone and Scotsmanality. Outside of the industry, he is a network engineer in Norwalk, CT and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.