Video games can't be blamed for humanity's problems

Don Reisinger thinks too many people blame video games for societal problems. But is he really seeing things clearly?

Sorry, but I refuse to believe that video games can be the scapegoat for all of our problems. Call me a video game apologist or just another gamer hack, but it's true. Why should the video game industry be blamed for the problems all of humanity faces?

According to reports, Thailand has halted the sale of Grand Theft Auto 4 after a teenage boy confessed to robbing and murdering a taxi driver in an attempt to recreate a scene from the game.

"We are sending out requests today to outlets and shops to pull the games off their shelves and we will replace them with other games," Sakchai Chotikachinda, sales and marketing director of New Era Interactive Media, told Reuters.

Always one to jump on the bandwagon, Reuters found an anti-video game hack to tell us all that it's only going to get worse, but we also should watch out for those GTAIV-wannabes.

"This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse," Ladda Thangsupachai, director of the ministry's Cultural Surveillance Centre, told Reuters. "Today it is a cab driver, but tomorrow it could be a video game shop owner."

Millions of copies of GTAIV have been sold around the world and when one crazed kid decides he wants to rob and kill a taxi driver, we need to stop selling the title for fear of more disturbed people resorting to violence? That doesn't make sense.

Sorry, but I fail to understand how a video game showing pixelated violence is somehow worse than a movie showing even worse violence. I know, I know, "it's the participatory element you're forgetting." Uh, no.

The fact of the matter is this: more than 99 percent of individuals playing video games don't kill people, don't want to reenact what they see in a video game, and don't perform these kinds of acts. Sure, it may be difficult for the average anti-gamer to fully comprehend when they don't hear the other side of the story, but it's true: video games are not the root of all evil and they shouldn't be the scapegoat when people try to make them evil.

This is just another case of an obviously disturbed person acting out in a way that doesn't fall in line with the norm. So he blamed it on GTAIV. Are we now supposed to believe that the video game is telling kids to go out and kill taxi drivers?

A dog told the Son of Sam to kill people. Should we start killing off every dog we see for fear that dogs are sending us subliminal messages telling us to kill other people?

It doesn't make any sense.

It's easy to blame video games when we don't want to blame ourselves, but it needs to stop. This person obviously suffers from some unique problems that the vast majority of gamers simply don't. I played violent video games all my life. You don't see me running out and finding the nearest taxi driver to kill, do you?

Each and every individual is different and there's no telling what might set them off. Sometimes it's a cheating wife, other times it's a dog, and still other times it's a video game. Until we start eliminating every cheating wife and dog in the world, I don't think we should eliminate violent video games.

Instead, let's try for some common sense.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter feed, and FriendFeed!

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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