Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Violent Games in the News

Last week, an elderly woman was killed by her grandson. According to the news outlet, the boy was playing GTA(which one was not determined) and his grandmother asked him to stop and go study. He then proceeded to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and slit the throat of the poor woman. According to his family, he never acted violently before and the act was likely triggered by the violent nature of the game he was playing in the previous moments.

News like that pops from time to time. Of course, without a good deal of research and investigation, you cannot say that what triggered the violent reaction was the game itself (a game who, at least the ones I played, have no scene where you kill an old lady from slitting her throat from behind with a kitchen knife). You cannot say that the boy was the perfect calm teenager their family is claiming to be, as we all know that many teenagers have completely different behaviors in front of their parents and behind them. Without a psychological examination, you cannot determine if the teenager had any previous problem that run unnoticed. You cannot even determine exactly what happened, because there was no witnesses. We only have the conjectures of the police and the news reporter.

A news reporter who belongs to a network owned by an evangelic church with an historic of being biased and outright hiding facts so they can push their own religious agenda in the people.

This is the Brazilian version of Fox News.

From time to time, news networks tries to demonize videogames. Because by doing this they can scare people who would stop watching TV to play games. They did this with internet and failed. Now games are the chosen victim. So, games are violent, sure, but do they cause violent acts?

Most serious researches made by people who are real scientists conclude that there is no way they can link violent games and violent acts. Most cases of violent acts associated with games turn out to be people who already had cases or violent or erratic behavior before the incident.

Translation: It is unlikely games make you evil.
If I remember correctly, in 1997 a medicine student entered a movie theater here in Brazil and shoot three people. The media blamed the fact that he, in fact, had several violent games in his house. They forgot to say that he was a drug addict and had used drugs before the shooting, that he had an historic of mental problems and he had used an illegal gun to do the shootings. Hardly a good boy gone bad because of games.

And this is what many news 'forget' to tell people. they go with the superficial speculation and when the case turns out to be way different, they just don't tell people the truth. All the previous violent incident, drug usage, mental problems and/or abuse suffered by the perpetrator of such violent act is not told to the public.

I am not saying that games cannot make someone with problems goes violent. A person with mental problems or addicted can become violent all of sudden because something triggered a reaction. It doesn't need to be a violent scene. But games have sold billions of copies, many of them violent games, and we aren't leaving in a Mad Max like environment.

If games could make people goes violent and try to mimic the scenes, we would have an alarming case of decapitation by bare hands by now...
The relationship between violent acts and games needs to be studied, by serious researchers who cares more about the health of people than appearing in TV shows and writing books. Parents needs to keep an eye for their children behavior and if they see any change to worst after they played a game, they need to make the kid stop and search help. Developers and publishers needs to warn parents about the content of games.

What we don't need is a bunch of scare mongers trying to gain money over people who have no better access to knowledge and news, trying to sell their own agenda while making biased news, trying to push their own agenda while making the true problems behind those sad events being ignored.

Every time something like that happens, their attempt to make videogames as the villains make the true causes of such tragedies being forgotten and addressed, what make this events likely to be repeated later. 

This disservice only helps them to promote themselves.

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