A Question About Games

It’s all the games’ fault, a lot of people are saying. Which is a fascinating conclusion, really. Despite numerous studies over the years that show that gaming doesn’t seem to increase violent tendencies (and in some cases, may actually reduce them, serving a cathartic purpose), it’s still somehow the games’ fault. But I want to know how that’s the case.

I mean, if one were taking their lessons from games, wouldn’t they be attempting to invade heavily armed foreign nations, or third-world countries possessing rare artifacts, or potentially hostile military or science facilities? With the exception of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2‘s “No Russian” level (which is now 10 years old, mind you) or the shock-value game Hatred, there don’t seem to be games about arming yourself to the teeth and randomly assaulting civilians, attacking nightclubs and movie theatres, burning down churches (with people inside) or live streaming kidnapping and torture while shouting about your politics.

The closest thing to any of that might be Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row but even then the connection seems tenuous, at best, since the violence is supposedly serving a crime kingpin narrative, not “random explosion because reasons.”

This is really bothering me, since in the last week I’ve seen just as many posts crying for the banning or censorship of video games as I have claiming that Trump is to blame or that we need to kill all white, cishet males. (Never mind that there are deeper issues to unpack in both of those statements. That’s for bigger brains – or people more willing to be banned on the internet than I – to sort out.)

Logically, if I wanted something to blame for socially repressed homicidal maniacs deciding randomly to kill unarmed folks for shock value and because it makes them feel better, I can find better fits. One that comes to mind immediately is “Cain Rose Up.”

For those not familiar with it, it’s s short story by Stephen King, where a homicidal college student muses over his life while barricading himself in a dorm room and prepping a gun. The story ends as he rises to the window and lifts the gun.

He wasn’t playing video games. He wasn’t spurred on by presidential rhetoric, Twitter, 8chan, being an incel, or any of the other things folks blame when this sort of thing happens.

That story was first published in 1968, in a college literary journal, and later reprinted in 1985’s Skeleton Crew. In the 51 years since its first appearance, I have yet to hear anyone blame it for a mass shooting or accuse Mr. King of being an alt-right propagandist. Why not? I suspect because by the time this came along, we were already well into the “blame the music” phase of our development, so we were more concerned with the magic backward lyrics in those terrible rock songs turning people into killers than the books or movies of the day. By the time it was republished in Skeleton Crew, we were assuming it was evil Satanic pedophile cults and Dungeons and Dragons making people kill each other.

Can we all just admit that one, some people are friggin’ nuts? That the assault of the world as it currently stands either breaks them or channels their socio- or psychopathy? There’s a start. Can we also admit that while I’m all for having access to weaponry (and think banning them is, at best, a fool’s dream now, due to the pushback from legitimate gun owners and the sheer number of illegal firearms floating around), that perhaps they need to take a look at restrictions and application processes and make it a little harder to lay hands on the things? I don’t know why people equate that to banning, but if you legitimately just want that AR-15 or elephant gun for hunting, sport, or collection purposes, you’ll be able to get one, assuming you follow the rules. (It reminds me of the VPN craze, and the folks paranoid about people looking at their computers. If you’re really not intending anything bad and are a law-abiding citizen, you have nothing to fear from inquiry. Right?)

Perhaps we need to have a discussion about mental health, identity politics, and the effect of being bombarded constantly and from all corners with statements of how you’re representative of the evil in the world. I’m sure everyone’s heard the stories of innocent preacher’s daughters who are told so often that they’re the Whore of Babylon that eventually they just give up and act like it; no one seems to consider that perhaps demonizing and attacking white, straight, conservative men might have a similar effect.

Or perhaps we need to invent a new form of entertainment, so the nitwits who want to blame everything except the individual can have something else to fixate on, like how they moved away from blaming books to movies to music to games.

But really, the question remains. Why do we blame video games instead of anything else?

I don’t get it.

KA Spiral no signature

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