I always find it baffling when something tragic happens that involves mass violence, video games and other forms of media are the first thing that get blamed. After Columbine, people went to Marilyn Manson. After the recent shootings, a following started attacking Mass Effect 3. Of all the games to attack, they attacked a highly fantastical, highly fictional game. Maybe... just maybe I could understand them saying this about Modern Warfare 2, where you go into an airport and massacre tons of civilians, but Mass Effect?
It seems that blaming games isn't enough; some places are starting to take action against them. Melrose, Massachusetts has created a "New Year - New Direction" initiative that allows the exchange of violent videogames, movies, and toys for a sheet of coupons that can be used at select locations in the town. I do believe that kids should play games that are deemed appropriate for their age level, but that involves parents being educated, not video games and movies taking the fall for pieces of entertainment that were never deemed suitable for children in the first place.
Even if kids are impressionable at a young age, which they are to an extent, good parenting usually helps as the main guidance tool in a child's life. When I was young my mom told me the difference between right and wrong. My private school taught me this as well. I grew up knowing that acting aggressively towards another was bad. I played some violent games in my young teens (GTA comes to mind). I even saw some violent movies (including scary ones).
By the logic that these people are using, I should be a violent person as well... but I am not. Even now, I like PvP in my games. I like killing things in games. Yet, I will admit that I am someone that couldn't even hurt a fly. I cry every time I see Old Yeller or Gladiator. I find that words are often exchanged for violence, but words are usually more effective than violence will ever be. I was taught to use my words wisely, not use my fists to bully others. I was taught to think of other's emotions and to think of how it will impact my future, not to just think of the here and now.
Also, if we're going by the logic that these folks in Melrose are using, then video games and media are the reasons girls become strippers and/or prostitutes. They're the reason guys become womanizers who objectify women, or why people become addicted to drugs. They're also the reason people have extreme tendencies to use the "F" word in every sentence. Oh wait, but I am an adult, I know the difference between all these things and while I may not agree with their extreme use in multi-media, I know that I will not change as a person simply because they exist.
I agree that graphic sex, violence, and adult themes should only be for adults, but that involves adults being adults and not putting things within reach of a child. If you don't want your kid to see or have these things, then don't put them where they can easily access it (you know, like guns). That also involves parents knowing what they are buying for their kids.
I don't know how many times, when I worked at Wal-Mart while in college, there would be seven year-olds asking for God of War, GTA, or a graphic movie. I knew what was in all the games and I would inform the parents of the rating. The normal response I would receive is, "What does the rating mean?" While explaining the rating to them, the kid would be saying, "Mom/Dad it's not that big of a deal..." Naturally, the parents would get upset that they would put such things in the game and I'd have a new nemesis: the child upset that I blocked him from getting a game that wasn't suitable for his age group anyway.
I wasn't a parent but I was doing their job.
We all should know, especially from our experiences growing up, that you cannot keep everything bad from your child. That doesn't mean you should give in and willingly let them have access to these things. But it does mean you should teach them about drugs, sex, violence, language, the world, politics, etc. when they start to come into the child's life. We shouldn't just say "Oh, they are bad!" but moreso we should educate them about what they are, why they exist, and if/when they are good or bad.
Oh, but that involves being a parent.
This is just my rant about how people blame inanimate objects as rationalization for why catastrophe happens instead of blaming bad parenting, poor schooling and education, lack of mental healthcare, and so forth. I wish it were that easy to blame a rock in the middle of the Sahara Desert for all the violence and hate that happens in our world today, but it's not.
Hillary "Pokket" Nicole
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