Violence in Life and Violence in Video Games Are Unrelated

It video games that broke people, but people will be able to break games. Let's hope that never happens.
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When violent acts occur – school shootings, acts of terror, domestic violence, or any other sort of social violent act for that matter – the media tends to point a finger in the direction of entertainment. Although movies and television are sometimes criticixed, it’s generally not that type of entertainment that people blame. Instead, they like to point the finger directly at video games. As a gamer, I get disgusted by the thought of media warping minds to believe that people who play games with violence in them are violent people.

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Video games have a long history of entertainment that ranges from the fondly-remembered Pong to the ever-so-controversial Grand Theft Auto series. Games like Pong are family-friendly and get a pass on video game controversy. However, violent video games (Grand Theft Auto, State of Emergency, Hatred, Mortal Kombat, etc.) get a horrible reputation in these controversies, and we as gamers are lumped with them when something bad happens.

The first major video game controversy happened in 1976, over a game called Death Race.

Death Race, by today’s standards, would seem tame. The public outcry about this game was that it was your object to run over gremlins. Yes, gremlins. Not people. As you ran these gremlins over, they let out a little cry. The public was shocked, and media outlets began running specials on the psychological impacts of “violent” video games. They speculated that Death Race and games in general must to blame for a rise in violence and murders. Of course! Because there was never a killing spree or serial killer or violent act prior to this… Oh wait.

Broken People =/= Corrupt Games

There were plenty of people commiting immoral and violent acts before video game controversies arose.  The world at large has resulted in broken people, not video games.

The Harpe brothers, who murdered forty victims over a six-year span, did so with no video game influence. Forty people. That includes one of the men’s own daughter, who was killed because she was crying. These murders were not influenced in the least bit by a video game. But this is an example of a series of killings spanning over time. So maybe video games only cause killing sprees or rampage shootings, right?


The most basic public records prove that there have been recorded rampage or spree killings well before video games were popularized. Let’s look at Russell Lee Smith as a prime example. Smith killed two people and injured nine more. Before killing the two women he had taken captive. he raped them. Smith is only one of the people that have committed a killing spree prior to 1976 there were plenty more to choose from.

Although it may be true that some culprits of violent acts play video games, those games are not the underlying reason for their actions.

The media fails to look at other similarities in their cases – one of which seems to be bullying. I am not excusing actions of these individuals by any means, but being outcast from the general population is no fun. If you look at the two most well-publicized school shootings in American history, Virgina Tech and Columbine, all three shooters were recognized as outcasts. The media subtly acknowledged that these kids and young adults were ridiculed, made fun of, and bullied at school. Then they still tried to blame video games for the violent actions. 

Video games are a way for people to get away from reality. That is why they’re set in fantasy worlds – they allow players to escape to another place, planet, or even universe. They allow players to be someone or something that they can’t seem to be in real life. Video games can be relaxing, and a form of stress relief in spite of the violence.

And perhaps the media should consider that video games are a healthy way to relieve frustration. They’re a way for us to act out “violence” without hurting anyone. It’s true that for some people, games desensitize them to violence and perhaps could lead them to commit violence acts. But those people are few and far between. And in most cases, those people are mentally ill – which means that video games didn’t cause the violence. The person was already violent. 

Animatied violence is all around us the only differnece with a video game is that it is interactive. Look at old cartoons like Tom & Jerry or Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner – it would be ignorant to say that there is no violence assoicated with these animations. That is all they are about, an animal trying to kill another. Kids were raised watching these “violent” cartoons every Saturday morning. If we ask older generations they recall getting up early to watch these animals try to kill each other in different ways every week. 

Some will argue that playing as an animated character killing other can numb our feelings to violence in reality. I am a prime example of this not being true and I am sure I am not the only one; I almost faint or puke at the sight of real blood, but am fine with a video game. Fact is, video games are animated, not real people although they are made to resemble people; they are not real. Movies could be more of a target because it is real people being shot, but because everyone in the general population watches movies how can the media put a negative twist on that. 

Every time I hear about a violent outbreak I wait for the media to erupt and blame video games as they can be an easy scapegoat. Video games are not the reason for violence, more just a piece in a giant mental puzzle. Truth is most gamers are going to be more mild-mannered than most. Anyone that has gone to a nerd gathering PAX, Comic Con, or any other mega-nerd convention can tell you we are all compassionate people and most are very kind.

So, next time media tries to feed you games caused that kid to kill, just know that there were other circumstances that no one knows. It probably wasn’t what he or she did at home for entertainment that caused the outbreak, it was probably what they had to put up with before getting there. Please stop letting the media attempt to brainwash you as video games are a great form of art, entertainment, and social communication. If we ever get to the point of having to censor these it is just putting a ceiling on how creative people can be or how people will spend their free time.

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Eric Nicolai
I acknowledge my writing is not perfect. However, video games are my passion. Looking to break into the industry any way I can. I have a YouTube channel along with Twitch under MisterUnboxers. Twitch streams 8pm Monday thru Friday Eastern Time. Follow on twitter too, FlubbedPython.