Thursday, January 03, 2013

Can we stop blaming video games? [thoughts]

After the dreadful massacre at Newton in the US just a while ago the National Rifle Association (NRA) have started to point finger everywhere but on the gun laws. Last I heard they blamed video games. Is seriously anyone surprised by this?At least I'm not.

Note: As a Swede I am sure I will have a different point of view than for example someone living in the US but seeing something in different angles and discussing it is a good thing, it's from that this blog post started. These are my thoughts about the situation.

Video games is the easiest thing in the world to blame (and so is internet and everything else people can't truly grasp), specially the bloody, killing people ones. I don't think though that because you shoot people in a game you want to go out on a killing spree. Now, if you really got those urges then I'd guess the game was just a tipping point and something is mentally wrong with you to begin with. Breivik, the mass murderer and terrorist in Norway, practised with computer games every day but then he was already set on what he wanted to do.

Did you know for example that according to Entertainment Software Association (ESA) the average player in 2012 are around 30 and have been playing for roughly 12 years. Also, 47% of the players are women. But yet, how many women have gone on a killing spree? How many 30+ have gone on a killing spree? All of those who have, in the US, slaughtered other people have been young men. Shouldn't this raise an eyebrow?

I think it has to do more with the society at large than the fact someone is or isn't playing bloody video games. I think we need to see what is wrong, why are young men more prone to do this awful act? And don't give me the testosterone bullshit, if that was the case then there would be massacres and more killings after every big bloody movie to reach the cinemas or just in general considering all gore that surrounds us on a daily basis.

A regular person today see more gore and kills than what they did just 20 years back. We see it on the news, we see it on youtube (both real and fake), on tv, on the cinema, in games and so forth. You cannot single out one thing and say "This is the culprit", it's not that easy.

What I think would help in the US is limiting the access of guns and a better control of them. In my country, I can't say we play any less video or computer games, but we cannot access guns however we like. I can honestly say I don't know where to go in Sweden if I want a weapon while when visiting the US I at least saw one big gun shop. Sweden have thankfully yet not had any massacres either.

What baffles me the most is automatic guns. A normal citizen doesn't need automatic guns to protect themselves and that's what the whole American law is about. I say, let's take away the automatic guns from the market. Sure, those who really want them will get them but that will always be the case no matter what kind of gun laws you have. I'm sure you can get your hands on automatic weapons in Sweden too if you really wanted to.

I also say that the age need to be raised, being 18 or 21 (depending on weapon) is too young. Put maybe a limit to 25? One of the main issues though isn't age per say but that weapons can always be accessed by taking one from a parent or even be given one by a parent or relative. It's a tricky problem and it needs to be addressed. We do not live in age where pumas and bears can kill off our whole family, we do not need to teach our kids to handle weapons to survive.

More guns will do no good. For example, the NRA wants the guards at schools to have guns. I don't think that will add to a safe environment, on the contrary. I might add to this the fact that the guard on Columbine high school was armed when the massacre in 1999 happened. I believe no automatic guns, higher age limit, less guns overall and a culture that doesn't teach and give their kids access to guns to be vital. Of course there are other aspects too but that I think is a start.

I really do hope something will be done in the US because with two bigger massacres in one year it's time to do something. One step toward this is gun laws, another is to look at WHY this happens and why by young men. We need more studies on this, we need universities to start looking into this and definitely with eyes that doesn't stop at video games or any of that kind because it's an easy target.

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