Monday, June 16, 2014

Empathy Reduction Due to First Person Shooters?

While the NY Times attempts to tackle another claim about violent video games, this one focusing on it desensitizing youth instead of promoting violent behavior, they skirted over a very important point made by Almir Listo, manager at Starbreeze Studios of PayDay fame. The fact that these same games are played around the world (Listo mentioned specifically his home in Sweden) and yet violence world wide is at an all time low. Here in the United States, we're hearing about shootings at public places on a weekly basis.

It's not a video game problem. It's a societal problem.

We can argue for years about video games' effects on children. It may or may not desensitize them to real world violence in the same way movies have been plagued by it for a century (the Hayes code was a horrible attempt at trying to remove sex and violence from movies). Comic books, music, television, theater, they all have been blamed at one point in their existence for causing corruption to our youth. Video games is the latest iteration until a future form of entertainment comes in and replaces it. I'm not saying that I haven't been influenced by games, movies, or television to react a certain way when it comes to a violent event, but I still hold sorrow, sadness, and concern when a death happens. Kids do as well. They know the difference between reality and fantasy. We can discern when it's fake and can laugh at our follies in a video games, and know when it's real and feel the pain of our peers.

Most first world countries have access to the same content as consumers in the U.S. And yet, we are still the one country that has the highest random shooting/death rate by comparison. Kids in Japan play the same video games. Kids in England watch the same movies. Kids in France listen to the same music. Hell the nudity clause that we're so stuck up about here is completely out the window in France, and it's one of the safest countries to live in with "good moral standing." But there is something fundamentally wrong within the United States that keeps prompting these outbreaks of violence, and pointless discussions that result in no change. For as up in arms people were about Sandy Hook, there has been no progress in improving the laws for gun ownership, nor has that study about violent games managed to get past stage 1.

At this point, we need more action, less talking. We haven't resolved a thing and the situation is getting worse. We should not expect mass shootings or random acts of violence as the norm. Not when our cultural neighbors have peaceful, stable societies. We need to look at what they are doing and copy them. It's as simple as that, and yet incredibly challenging. I know it will be. It'll require people to stop blaming and to start taking personal responsibility. That's always a challenge. Will we have to give up some freedoms? More then likely. But we'd still be able to achieve some of our basic rights the founding fathers wanted for us: the freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The life part is pretty important.

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