Gun violence is on a lot of people’s minds lately, and rather than considering that archaic gun laws could be the problem, gun toters and profiteers unapologetically turn their attention to every other possible scenario that could have caused these perpetrators to pick up a gun and murder dozens of people. One such target is video games.
There’s no doubt that our society has grown extremely desensitized to violence in general and gun violence in particular. We’ve been watching Elmer Fudd hunt wabbits for decades. And though stormtroopers almost always missed their mark, the good guys never failed to take them down with no consideration for the soul behind that mask.
Video games are no different in that desensitization. In fact, they are probably worse because they actively give the player the power to pull the trigger with a push of a button.
But does all that violence overtly lead to mass shootings? Research says nope.
Now, I’m no psychologist, but I have conducted some experimentation on my own and with my own children and feel confident that I can corroborate this research. In fact, I’m quite fond of video game violence, as is my younger daughter, but neither of us have yet to perpetrate any mortal atrocities in real life.
In our latest adventures in violent gaming—no wait, let me drop in a disclaimer first, lest you think me a bad parent: I have no issue letting my kids partake of media that is inappropriate for their age. That is to say, I gauge the content and context of the particular piece of media and determine whether or not they should partake of it at all based on various criteria that largely revolves around how cool it is, and how many of their questions I can answer when we discuss it thoroughly. As in, if we partake of such media, we do so together, with open dialogue, and lots of pause button moments to chat about what we’re seeing and how it affects us and those around us.
So, in our latest adventure, the girls are supporting Nathan Drake, Elena, and me as we hunt for Drake’s Fortune. This is my first time playing the Uncharted series, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect beyond Lara Croft/Indiana Jones-type treasure-hunting. I should have known there would be jumping and puzzles for me to deal with—gameplay elements I’m not particularly fond of. But thankfully, my girls have a keen eye and a sort of patient demeanor and are able to spot ledges that I need to leap to and coo patiently with only a few giggles when I miss said ledges for the 48th time. They are also proving to be quite adept at spotting for me when the waves upon waves of bad guys attack.
Waves. Upon waves. I hate this game.
“Two to your left,” says my eldest, whose suspension of disbelief stops at Elena running into the middle of the battlefield and walking away without a scratch.
“Shoot the barrel in the corner,” says my youngest, who loves to see things explode.
Sometimes, after a long session, I get a bit sloppy with my accuracy and they begin to relentlessly mock me, but then I land a few headshots and redeem myself with a PSN trophy. I’m currently at 50 headshots and counting, thank you very much. And that’s without a sniper rifle.
I wasn’t always a sniper. I didn’t pick up that skill until I played Warhawk and discovered I was sort of good at it as long as no one saw me first. Technically, in multiplayer games, I suck at sniping because people seem to move around too much, but I have the utmost respect for those who can pull it off effectively.
…Which my eldest has managed to do from time to time in Overwatch as Widowmaker, pulling her weight despite the complaints of some jerk on the team who questioned her character choices. Well, by effectively, I mean, like, two headshots, but hey, that’s two more than I usually manage and that’s more than enough for this proud mama to buy her a Widowmaker Funko in honour of her prowess while her younger sister guns down the competition as D.Va.
The moral of the story is that video games don’t kill people. But they are great for family bonding.
Mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.