Let’s talk about a serious topic for a second. Now I know that most of you reading this are smart enough to realize that it is not okay to be a bully online. Any form of bullying, quite frankly, should not have a place in our society and all of us should do our part in stopping the unnecessary hate. I think we can all agree on this point.
However, I’ve been noticing a trend for several years now that keeps growing as new generations of people are introduced to online gaming. This trend is cyber bullying. For some reason, people can’t get it in their heads that bullying someone in an online game is wrong. Okay, sure we all like to provide some friendly banter when dominating our opponents, but that doesn’t mean we need to make racist, homophobic, or any type of discriminatory remarks to those we meet online.
So why am I bringing up this topic?
Just a couple of days ago, I read an article from a local paper in Somerset, MA, in which a public safety director was speaking to groups of middle school students about social media and the rules one should follow when posting anything online. Given the sometimes violent or sexist nature of certain individuals who use Twitter, Facebook, Oovoo, or Kik, this is a good subject to talk about with our children these days. What really struck me though is the reasoning behind her warnings to the middle school kids. The article reads:
“[Name withheld] told the students that there is violence in the media, movies, music and video games. She said video games, like Grand Theft Auto and Auto Combat, change how people think and trigger violence, criminal activity and sexual acts.”
My initial reaction to this statement was ‘how in the world can this person think video games are the “trigger” for violence and crimes? Have they not seen the numerous scientific studies that say otherwise?’ However, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I became understanding of their stance. All this person would have to do is join one game of Battlefield, Counterstrike, or any other online game and their reasoning would be validated.
Simply put, we are digging our own graves as a community of gamers by being these annoying, aggressive and hateful people who can hide behind the screen of anonymity. You, the person who is reading this; If you act in this abusive and hateful way, you are proving that video games cause violence when you mouth off in every match of Call of Duty. Verbal violence is still violence. So let’s tone it down and act responsibly so that those who are not gamers can see that we can be friendly and play games together. Maybe then, the public will see our passion in a different, and more positive light.