Violence and entertainment go hand in hand, regardless of the form of media. Rather it is video games, film, or even novels, the theory that what we play, watch, and read ultimately shapes our capability to comprehend situations in reality has existed for years. Book banning spans back to as early as 428 B.C. with the philosophers finding their works burned and themselves exiled or executed for questioning religious beliefs. As society progressed, acts of violence and sexual themes replaced spiritual viewpoints. The banning of films for extreme gore, violence, and sexual content is far from anything new. Video games have been treated no differently.
Desire to prevent children from purchasing mature rated games seemed like a noble, agreeable cause, but the unjustified allegations of how violence in games were linked to vicious acts in reality became offensive towards the general public. Statements from political representatives and supporters essential stated that all people who enjoyed video games lusted for bloodshed. However, that is not always the case.
Evidence entertains ideas on both sides. Research both supports and disproves the connection between how media can alter our judgment over time or effect our mannerisms. Armies rush to the digital battlefield to siege our freedom of expression and clash with the cyber soldiers prepared to defend our rights. Though both parties only find a rotten horse carcass. Everyone - professionally and publically - is not afraid to express their opinions on video game violence, but we hear so much about the physical violence video games supposedly make us do; or talk about the mental distortion they cause. What about violence outside of the game and the consoling solitude that they provide?
When we hear the word "violence", we generally think of an aggressive physical act against another being. Hostility can come in more forms than just physical attacks. Arguably, emotional scars run deeper than physical ones. The events that we live through shape ultimately shape our personalities and perspectives on the world. A world we cannot always escape from without a bit of help from a television and a gaming system.
I had a fairly normal urban lifestyle while growing up. Our duplex was located in a slightly rough part of town. Not enough to deem it unlivable for safety reasons, but it was surely a place where I could not wander outside by myself. There were not many other children my age that lived around me. Occasionally, I would get invited to play in the backyard of the girl who lived next yard but I cannot recall the reasons why she was not always there. My parents lived on alternating schedules. My mom worked days while my dad worked nights. I would see them throughout the day but for the most part, I was left to amuse myself since during the day my dad was asleep and in the evenings, my mom did her own thing.
Though as a young kid with limited social interaction, this did not seem to bother me. My room felt like a personalized paradise filled with stacks of comic books and toys, and got even better when I was allowed to have a colored television in my room for the PlaySation. I was generally left to myself for most of the day, but the bright fantasy worlds I explored with my virtual friends like my Pokemon or Spyro kept me company. I never felt alone but little did I know that my "prefect" life was a recipe to set me up to become the stereotypical nerd.
During the earliest years of school, it seemed like what I like did not matter. It did not matter if I liked playing with Legos over playing with dolls or that I preferred sitting alone with a GameBoy instead of playing sports with the other kids. Tolls started to take though as I got older. Going into second grade, that magical moment of mental awakening happened. Our childish minds that were once centered around just having fun became more aware of society standards. Gender roles began to emerge and suddenly my once acceptable behavior turned me into a social outcast. Boys did not wanted to play with me because I was an icky girl; girls did not want me around them because I was weird for liking boy things.
I was automatically labeled different.
Throughout grade school and middle school, the classroom was pretty much ran by two groups of girls: the best friends that had grown up with each other and the token popular girls. Both groups I did not fit into since I was not the prettiest girl or the most athletic, but I was among - if not - was the smartest. Just another thing that set me side from the rest of them. I had friends, but when peer pressure is constantly on you, you do not always rise to stand at a friend's side. So most of my battles were fought alone and I was greatly outnumbered.
I suffered silently from daily harassment and bulling, like most geeks did during the mid-90s.
Since I did not wear name brand clothes or have my hair in fancy hairstyles, I was often told how unattractive I was. I was made fun for the way I looked and the clothes I wore. I was constantly put down to the point to where I began withdrawing myself from them because I became self-conscious of how I looked. I started wearing baggy clothing to hide my body in hopes that it would deteriorate their desire to want to point out my flaws. However, the awkwardness of my scrawny frame in the oversized shirts and jeans only gave them more of a reason verbally attack me.
The late-90s into the early 2000s can be argued to be the greatest years in gaming. Some of the greatest games of our time started came out and it began to highlight my hobbies. While these other girls were going out to the mall to shop, I stayed home to play video games. I isolated myself over socializing which singled me out. I freely chose to play games over going out because I found them to be fun and wanted to enjoy them; though it seemed to have given all the others the wrong impression. To them, it showed that I was alone. It made me come off as being weak which gave them a reason gang up on me. I would get surrounded by two or three at a time and be overpowered by hateful comments. I would be put down or shunned for even the smallest of reasons like walking too close to them in the hall or sitting in the seat one of them wanted on the ride home. Whatever reason they saw fit, they would explode it no matter what.
Daily, I was humiliated in front of our peers which was embarrassing and my presence then turned into a disease. Soon everyone saw me as an anti-social leaper. Since I was labeled unacceptable by the two popular groups, it would tarnish their view of you if you were caught around me thus causing most people to migrate away from me. I have no doubts that there was not some sense of satisfaction that came from knowing they had the power to manipulate people's opinions about me before someone would even get to know me.
Eventually, the bullying settled over time but only through the naturally progression through school. It finally ended the day those two groups and I went our separate ways in high school. For almost a decade, I was trapped in a classroom where I was constantly tormented. The worst part about it is verbal abuse and consistent put downs do not leave scars. No one saw the aftermath of the psychological beatings I endured since there was no evidence to prove it even happened other than my pleas to certain teachers and adults to make it stop, but for all of us who have been in a bullying situation, we know how that goes. We are simply told that kids are just being kids; that their violent outbursts are caused from simple social and mental ignorance because they do not know any better. We are told that the pain will come to an end when they (the offenders) grows out of it leaving the rest of us (the victims) to silently accept it.
Resident Evil 2 - A Game from my Childhood
Current news and some political movements want us to believe physical violent acts like murders or shootings are caused by ideas inspired from video games since they glorify death and gore. Yet, school councils, parents, teachers, and even law enforcement willing accept non-physical violence as a natural growing stage for children. In other words, every human being is allowed to be mentally disturbed to a degree as long as their hateful verbal and emotionally ruining acts do not turn into physical attacks. When these acts do turn physical, then everything else is blamed for causing the person to be violent other than the person's own will.
What people do not realize is that those years of verbal abuse have shaped my personality far more than the video games I played during those same years. Both violent ones and non-violent ones.
I will be turning twenty-four this October; I still have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror without picking out every flaw in my appearance that was pointed out to me nearly 14-16 years ago. I have managed to escape my shy shell a bit, but I still favor quiet nights in over parties with a small group of close friends because I still feel so withdrawn from the world. When it comes to meeting new people, I do not have issues with listening to them or communicating about common interests but I have little to nothing to say about myself since I find myself to be dull and uninteresting. Why? Because of years of being told that the things I liked were "stupid" or I was wrong for liking them in the first place. I think my blog on here is only a handful of sentences because I truly do not know what to say without having sense of fear of being judged.
For those who read my Blossoming into Womanhood, you know that part of the reason I personally am not offended by must sex appeal of female characters is because I liked feeling like an attractive woman. After all, I was told that I was not for over half my life so the ability to be one in a game allowed me to cope a bit. Being a desirable damsel made up for the fact that I was generally overlooked by my male peers in school. The loneliness I felt in school was batted away by the dozens of friends waiting for me at home and came to me the moment I turned on my gaming system. Whimsical stories and vibrant worlds to explore occupied my mind, thus giving me brief moments of solace from the horrible thoughts that plagued my mind.
We are so quick to jump to conclusions and connect media influences to behavior that we ignore the fact there are far deeper, psychological factors that come into play regarding violence. At times, society seems to not even recognize non-physical violence or fails acknowledge it as being as severe as physical violence. Those girls that picked on me growing up never really played games and their behavior was normal in the eyes of society. I was told that they just did not know any better even though they would tear me down to the point of tears. Even the most ignorant of minds should have noticed that something about that was not right.
Yet, my enjoyment of games makes me the bad guy due to a few horrid acts caused by some very mentally disturbed, psychotic individuals. Me choosing to play and liking something like Bioshock, Resident Evil, Call of Duty, or any game with violence in the privacy of my own home is corrupting society. The thousands of bullies that roam the playgrounds and pick on other kids for fun are not. Something about that concept does not sit right with me, especially when those very games I am scolded for liking are what allowed me to escape the emotional torment I endured so no one else was there to save me but myself and my games.