Playing violent video games can push certain individuals over the edge, causing them to engage in their own violent activities.
That’s a blanket statement. It has no factual basis, yet.
But that’s basically what Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said to GameSpot in a recent Google Hangout.
When asked about why he chose to focus part of a January speech on gaming, Murphy referred to the Newtown school shootings, where a deranged killer shot and killed 26 people before turning the gun on himself.
He was also a gamer, according to many news reports
“Now, nobody can sit here for certain and say that without any one of those things, without the powerful weapons, without the mental illness, without the exposure to video games, this wouldn’t have happened. We can’t put ourselves in his mind,” Murphy said. “But we do see a trend where some of these shooters do have exposure to these video games.”
Murphy admitted that there are no legitimate studies which have proven a link between video game use and violence, but he said that’s why he’s supported a plan by President Barack Obama to do more research on the root of gun violence, according to the GameSpot interview
Should we, as gamers, be upset by this?
I think we often have a gut reaction to defend gaming, when conversations like this happen. We start off by saying, “I’m completely normal and I play video games,” and end with, “So there obviously isn’t a problem.” We get mad and, understandably, feel judged
After all, if violent games turn people violent, what are WE becoming?
However, we should stop ourselves from being so quick to reject these questions. Because they are fair questions.
Here’s a comparison, and it might be a stretch, but bear with me. The National Football League has denied for many, many years that concussions have severe after effects and are a result of playing football. Only now, 20-30 years after many started crying out against the lack of protection and concern over concussions, is the league finally being forced into action.
Meanwhile, plenty of former NFL players have died young, committed suicide or developed mental problems, as a probable result of these concussions.
Now let’s look at gaming.
No, there is no evidence now that it has an adverse affect on anything except for our social lives.
But what if we just haven’t looked hard enough? Even worse, what if we’ve been scared to look hard, afraid of what we might find?
Because if violent games, including classic shoot-em-ups like Call of Duty and Halo, contribute to violence and deadly acts, we must be willing to pull ourselves away from them.
And if we stand in the way of proper research and prove to be wrong, we are partly responsible for the resulting tragedy.