Society’s Most Recent Scapegoat: Video Gaming

2211 words - 9 pages

Rebellious, violent behavior in youth is often treated simplistically – whether Elvis Presley’s latest hits, the programs airing on Saturday night television, or the newest film playing in theaters were popular amongst children and young adults, the blame for unfavorable behavior has always had its scapegoat. One of the most recent additions to society’s scapegoats is video gaming.
Whether the objective of a given game is to fight crime or cause it, the morality of video games is often questioned and scrutinized by analysts and citizens alike. People like Amanda Schaffer, a staff writer for the Internet magazine Slate, will explain that “children who are immersed in the world of violent video games may be more likely to get into physical fights, argue with teachers, or display anger and hostility.” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former U.S. Army Ranger and tactical trainer, would go as far as to say that video games not only encourage violent behavior, but teach their players how to partake in it themselves (Hoerrner).
While the possibility of violent video games having a negative influence on their players may be up for debate, David Walsh, the president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, insists that games within any genre can contribute to negative behavior. He argues that the general act of playing video games can cause aggressive behavior and unfavorable habits in young players. He also notes that, in a survey, parents of children who play video games tend to dishonestly state how much they regulate the hours in which their children play video games; pointing out that there is not enough control exercised in their children’s gaming. The glaringly obvious point the seems to miss in stating this, however, is that misbehaviors and addictions amongst young players can only come to fruition if they are not properly controlled. Therefore, it is the fault of the parents rather than the fault of the games themselves.
Many factors can contribute to violent behavior within any age group, and this fact seems to be frequently overlooked by critics. Video games have become a scapegoat for violent behavior while factors such as one’s home life, environment, and human nature as a whole are ignored. For example, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, the Washington Post stated that the killer, Seung-Hui Cho, played a shooting game called Counter-Strike (Kushner). Despite the fact that no evidence said that he was an avid gamer, the blame for the murders was placed upon the video game he was playing, and afterwards jumped to television shows he was watching. The fact that Cho was a mental patient who often underwent psychiatric evaluation and treatment was gradually swept under the rug as critics blamed various forms of media for his actions (Breggin).
According to David Kushner, people who conduct studies on video games in order to prove their apparent link to violent behavior will often use outdated games and restrict...

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