Will We Ever Convince People That Games Are Not The Problem?
Media scholar Henry Jenkins takes it a step further, suggesting the inverse may actually be true — that violent offenders play fewer violent games than the average person. He said:
“According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. It’s true that young offenders who have committed school shootings in America have also been game players. But young people in general are more likely to be gamers — 90 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls play. The overwhelming majority of kids who play do not commit antisocial acts.”
Maybe — just maybe — it’s not that violent games are creating killers. Maybe it’s that individuals predisposed to homicidal behavior are attracted to violent games. And who knows? Maybe violent games even serve as an outlet to vent their frustration in a nondestructive manner.
Video games have just become the scapegoat for greater societal issues. Pointing out problems is easier than coming up with a solution, especially if that solution is something as difficult as a reevaluation of how we diagnose and handle at-risk individuals. According to Christopher J. Ferguson, the media has been the scapegoat for thousands of years. He said:
“It’s classic moral panic. Whenever we have a traumatic event like this historically, going all of the way back to the Greeks, people tend to blame the media. It makes us feel like we know what happened and that we can fix it. It’s very easy to get society to focus on the media as a bogeyman.”
In a 2009 paper, Ferguson further explained that “debates about the corrupting influence of media are nothing new.” As new media has continued to emerge over the years, we’ve seen the blame passed on to novels, jazz, rock and roll, rap, movies, comic books, Dungeons and Dragons role-playing games, Harry Potter, television, and now video games. He suggests that disparaging youth culture may simply be a part of human nature, a means of maintaining dominance in the guise of “protecting children.”
Will we ever convince people that games are not causing school shootings? Only once we get them to recognize that their knee-jerk reaction is born out of ignorance and question why they aren’t doing more to protect our children from evils in the world that are far greater than pixels on a monitor. Video games are simply the low-hanging fruit on the tree of potential blame, and it’s more comforting for society to ascribe incorrect blame than to admit that there are deeper issues to explore.