After the tragic events that transpired at the Virginia Tech campus shooting the effect of violent video games has once again been called into question. The same reaction to video games containing violent images and game play after the events of the Columbine shooting and many parents railed against what these games were doing to the youth of America. Entertainment shouldn’t be sold short, as it does tend to influence people. However, when it truly comes down to it, it would be ludicrous to place the blame of violent, unforgivable actions upon a popular form of entertainment. If it were any bit true then the United States alone would have somewhere in the vicinity of a quarter of its population teetering on the edge of violent explosion from a few hours with Grand Theft Auto III.
Video games have long since been defined as a form of entertainment and it would be foolish not to acknowledge the fact that entertainment does influence people, especially children. In the 90’s and even still to a degree today, elementary school children can be seen practicing their karate kicks even though they’ve had no martial arts training. This could be contributed to the amount of live-action costume super heroes that had taken over Saturday morning children’s lineups, namely the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
Years later, those influenced by television would turn to random acts of stupidity as the MTV show Jackass influenced legions of fans to perform their own random students. Many sent home videos to MTV and others were hurt, prompting MTV to show a warning before each episode of Jackass and spinoffs of the show. People have always attempted wrestling as it has been shown by the WWE(F) and the former competition.
Even though these other forms of entertainment have been emulated by youngsters across the country none of them have come under the fire that video games have. Violence is commonplace in video games and complaining about the violence has lead to the founding of the ESRB.
While people choose to emulate certain video games such as fans of Street Fighter performing a motion that in-game would yield a fireball or Final Fantasy fans performing a motion that would yield a magical result, there is a level of common sense that intercedes before they pick up and proceed to beat a prostitute to death to get their money back while refilling their health meter as seen in Grand Theft Auto. The level of absurdity that is seen in these games is something that gamers know they can’t do in real life-that is one of the core reasons that many people play the game.
The popular God of War series is known for its brutal combat, where the gamer is rewarded for being as ruthless as possible. On the special features disc that is included with the second installment of the series, developers go on to mention that the allure of some of the violence is to release frustrations that go on in the real world. The entire idea of an escape from reality can be used to explain entertainment in general, of which video games are parts of.
What are routinely not mentioned by those who would seek to ban controversial violent games are their counterparts in the violent spectrum. Several action titles, usually military video games (such as Ghost Recon) seldom come under fire from those who attack Grand Theft Auto. The violence is not senseless but in many cases it is much more brutal. Air Strikes, artillery barrages, rockets and explosions all create a much more heinous aftermath than what can be found in one block of a GTA city.
The most important notion however, is that as human beings (not as gamers) there is a distinct realization between video game violence and real life violence. People in general do not want to bring harm to one another for no reason and playing a video game simply isn’t a large enough reason to force someone out of the comfort of their living room and onto a sidewalk with a shotgun and an aimless vendetta.