As officials attempt to continue piecing together the motives behind last weekend’s horrific cold-blooded murder sprees in both El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, attention has turned once again to the role violent video games play in these types of attacks.
In remarks from the White House earlier this week, President Trump suggested they were likely one factor in a long list of many.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” he said. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”
Critics immediately challenged the assertion, suggesting that science on the subject was far from settled.
It’s true that studies over the years have drawn an array of conclusions concerning a direct correlation between video game playing and homicides. But trying to defend or deflect a connection reminds me of people who once refused to acknowledge the health dangers of tobacco simply because not everyone who smokes cigarettes contracts lung cancer.
It’s just common sense that regularly immersing oneself in bloody, violent video games ultimately, eventually and inevitably desensitizes a person to actual acts of savagery.
A friend of mine was recently talking with his older son about his video game usage. The young man mentioned that he enjoyed playing “Fortnite” – one of the most popular games in the United States. His son insisted that it was harmless, but my friend pressed him by asking a fog-cutting question.
“What the whole goal of the game?” he asked.
“It’s to kill everyone else,” he told him.
A long silence filled the room.
“When I put it like that, I guess that sounds pretty bad,” the boy admitted.
Granted, this debate is predictably perennial. For the past few decades, other ghastly games like Mortal Kombat, Doom and Grand Theft Auto have stood at the center of the controversy. Each time a murderous rampage shocks our consciences, somebody always points a finger at violent video games as a contributing cause. The issue is argued and then eventually fades away – until the next murderer manifests in the form of another demonic rage.
Virtual gaming is on the rise and seemingly growing more depraved by the day. In addition to all forms of violence and mayhem, sexually graphic imagery – up to and including rape – are also regular video game fare.
Focus on the Family’s Plugged In website has long provided parents with helpful reviews of some of the more popular video games. If you’re not familiar with the site or its content, I would encourage you to check it out. Let’s help our children make good choices in entertainment.