My original plan for today was to head out to Connecticut to talk to residents of Southington about their initiative to destroy violent videogames. That event was canceled. So one ridiculous sidestepping of the real issues in our society taken off the docket, right? Wrong.
Just like the Hydra, cutting off one head results in two growing in its place. Now the town of Melrose, Massachusetts, is planning on doing its own "dump a violent videogame for coupons" drive, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has banned some gun-related videogames from highway rest stops, including Time Crisis and Beachhead 2000.
I'd be happy if violent videogames became less popular in an organic, natural way. That could be seen as an indication that American society was slowly becoming less obsessed with glorifying war and gun violence in general. To try to force that to happen by blaming and shaming violent videogames (and the people who play them) by censoring them out of existence is, at best, like putting a band-aid on a broken leg, or at worst, like amputating the wrong leg.
We live in a society where news programs compete for ratings on a daily basis by broadcasting the most violent, fear-inducing, negative news they can dig up. This competition often occurs on a 24-hour cycle.
We live in a society that continues to perpetuate the false idea that having a mental illness is something to be ashamed of, damning you to one of the lowest rungs on the cultural ladder if you happen to have an particular type of brain chemistry, and that mental health treatment often involves getting locked in a prison-like "Asylum" after getting punched in the face by a guy who dresses like a giant bat.
We live in a society where recreational abuse of addictive drugs is frequently glorified in pop music, movies, and television, while the fact that many of America's mass shooters were self-medicating with these very same mind altering drugs gets brushed under the rug.
It seems to me that our brains, and the way our brains fit into the greater culture, are the factors that most determine our behaviors. Taking a look at the brain chemistry of the those who commit murder and/or suicide, and how those brains were affected by the world around them, might be more effective in preventing future murder-suicides than banning Time Crisis.
If someone plays videogames in a way that isn't healthy for them, that's a sign that the real world might not be working for them. If we try to take their coping methods away, they'll just find something else to replace them with, something potentially much more dangerous than videogames (like those addictive drugs that our society so frequently glorifies). Better to help people get to the root of their problems before cutting off their methods for dealing with life.
Some people who have a tough time with life also enjoy videogames. Some people with migraine headaches routinely take aspirin. Lets not blame the aspirin for the headache.
State removes violent games from rest stops [Boston Globe, via GameSpot]
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