Playing violent Video Games makes you a Killer!?

Nonsense!   Title gets your attention though huh?  Not even sure exactly where to start on this topic.  I am not a professional writer nor an expert on this topic.  I am a regular guy, a father with 2 children including a 16 year old son who plays plenty of video games including shooters, Halo, Call of Duty and others.

The reason I am writing this blog and putting up with an ancient laptop and not even a solid internet connection to write it, is because I really am very tired of the media, politicians or in this case the NRA using Video Games and Movies as easy scapegoats to lay blame for the actions of disturbed, deranged or otherwise evil people.

Most people that consume these types of media can tell fiction from reality and right from wrong.

I am not sure I will properly articulate all of my beliefs in this one blog and will probably end up writing more in the future, but hope this will be a good start for the dialog.  Most importantly before I lay out some of my thoughts and why I am so passionate about this subject and felt the need to write about it, I want to give my sincere and heartfelt prayers and thoughts not only and of course especially to the families of the Newtown victims but to all those touched by violence who I want to make sure are not forgotten.

This subject is touchy and emotional and I don’t plan to discuss at least not in this post about guns, and gun control in any great detail.  That is for another day.  I also am going to share some things with you now that only my closest family members and friends know.  I do not share any of this to sensationalize or for any other reason other than to give some context and lay the foundation for why I feel that I am uniquely qualified to discuss the topic of whether or not Video Games lead to and or cause violence.

I have personally been touched by Suicide, Manslaughter and Kidnapping all involving family members.  More on that in a moment.  It’s all on public record and these days with the internet can all be researched, found and verified anyway.

As far as Video Games go, I have actually been playing them actively since 1972!  Yes you read that right 40 years! That was the Magnavox Odyssey 1 system.  This will make many of you feel old, televisions back then generated static electricity, so the system only generated a couple of white blocks like Pong, and then the fancy, shmancy, graphics were actually acetate overlays that stuck to your TV via static electricity.  Yes kiddies that’s old school for you.  And guess what?  The games were fun, so it’s not all about graphics.

Man, just thinking about that makes me feel so damn old! But we digress, I have made my living for most of my life, over 25 years in the Video Game industry, so I have a tremendous amount of experience in the field and have and still play many video games across a multitude of genres.

The irony of the ridiculous speech that Wayne LaPierre gave is that when he attempted to play a shell game with the American public and misdirect them as to the cause and possible solutions to gun violence he tried blame games.  Well his list was games that either are not current today, have little to no guns in them or were never commercially available.

This is the best one.  He mentions and uses as one of his examples a game called Kindergarten Killer.  He actually even had the wrong name and had it as plural Killers.  Now as I have said I have been involved in this industry either as a hobby or professionally for almost ALL my life.  As such I pride myself on being very knowledgeable about the industry, but realistically nobody can or does know everything.

Well, until Mr. LaPierre chose to pick on my industry and use that example I had NEVER heard of Kindergarten Killer.  Why?  Because I have lost my edge?  Because maybe I just am not, that knowledgeable about this industry as I thought?

No, I would admit so if that were the case. No what Mr. LaPierre doesn’t bother to tell you is that this “game” was never sold in stores or even available in any kind of packaged goods format.  This game is what is called a “flash” game that you can play on any pc.  It was written by a young man, and while the content is abhorrent it never had an audience.

Of course in his attempt to confuse and place blame elsewhere he doesn’t tell you any of that.  So it’s ironic that a game with sick content that nobody ever heard of, now will probably be played more than it ever had when it was created many years ago, thanks to the NRA and the misguided statements by Mr. LaPierre.

What frustrates and amazes me, is that every time there is a tragedy, video games and movies get called out.  Rarely if ever does anyone mention books.  Now I firmly believe that none of these mediums inspire, promote, initiate or in any other way cause violent behaviors.

It’s a slippery slope if we start to further regulate or ban these mediums.  How about books?  They can and are extremely graphic, yet we don’t look to blame them.  In fact books as a general rule are much more graphic than a movie is.  Look at the Bible, there are many instances of torture, rape, murder in there too.  Brother killing brother as one of many examples.  Yet many of the people that would lay the blame for violence at the feet of video games, are the same folks that go to church, worship read the Bible and want their kids doing the same.

Plenty of studies have been done about the effects of video game violence and there is no proof that they lead to acts of violence.  I would argue that often what we see depicted in violent movies or games, came from heinous acts of evil that had already happened not the other way around.

Now back to my family and personal tragedies to drive the point home that if video games caused violence I or my son should be out committing these heinous crimes, but we are not.  Why? Simple, despite what we see on Television the Movies, or the games we play, we know better.  Despite the pain we have gone and or are going through as people, both my son and I know and understand that violence is never the answer, so we find other ways to cope and deal with life’s frustrations.

Within a span of 1 short year my mother died at the hands of my father, and it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, it was an accident.  A preventable one, but an accident nonetheless and not intentional.  My younger sister was kidnapped right in front of my eyes.  My dad was not a wife or kid beater, but he would lose his temper and slap us.  Without going in to any greater detail here today, it was an accident borne out of frustration with my mother who sadly was an alcoholic.  He struck her with an open palm, she fell struck her head and died.  As such he was convicted of Manslaughter.  I have never hit either one of my children or my wife and we were together more than 20 years, so again it is not always cause and effect.  You are not pre-destined to cause violence if you experience it.  The entire story is really for another day and I feel I have a few books in me, so maybe if there is enough interest I will write more about this in blog or book form sometime.

My brother committed suicide by gun and left 4 wonderful boys.  My brother played video games too, and they didn’t kill him.  Some pain that we all missed did.  I am so very proud of my nephews, their mother has done an admirable job of raising them.  They are all well adjusted, successful and bright boys.  Again, no cause and effect, they did not commit violence because their father did.

My 16 year old son despite having played violent videogames has never been violent and in fact has never even been in a fight.  My son and I have not seen each other for 2 years, this takes a tremendous toll on us both, yet we are not out causing violence and mayhem in an attempt to deal with the pain of this loss.  Again no cause and effect.

The reason we can and do cope without resorting to any sort of violence, is because we have a decent core set of values instilled in us by our parents.  In my humble okay, maybe not so humble opinion it all starts with good parenting and listening to others.  We as a nation have become numb and unaware of the people around us and the pain they may be feeling.

I do not claim to have all the answers, nobody does!  I do believe strongly that Video Games are NOT the cause of these heinous crimes.  We need to stop casting blame elsewhere and taking the easy way out.  We need to look in the mirror and realize that if we see or hear something out of the ordinary we need to reach out and speak out.

I cannot begin to understand what pain Adam Lanza was going through, but clearly there was something there.  I also believe that there had to be signs, because I do not and in fact cannot believe that somebody is perfectly well adjusted with no outward signs of problems today and then tomorrow goes on an evil, heinous murdering rampage.

We cannot prevent all violence and tragedies, but if we look around be aware and most importantly care more about our fellow human beings even if they are weird or strange we might prevent one.  If we can prevent one it’s worth it.

Well, I ended up writing more than I really had planned to or expected to.  I realize that most of this may be a bit of a rambling mess, but when you type from the heart that’s what happens.

I will leave you with a funny little situation that happened to me years ago at a trade show, that reminds me of what Wayne LaPierre is trying to do with misdirection and confusion.  First though I want to tell you who he reminds me off besides this guy I encountered at the tradeshow.  You have these street hustlers on the sidewalk that want you to play either the shell game, or 3 card Monte, where you need to follow what shell the pea is under or where the Queen is with 3 card Monte.  They use misdirection like hey look over there, in an attempt to fool you and confuse you. 

Okay, so me and some colleagues in the game industry were in New Orleans for a tradeshow.  I was warned by the way by a customer to have 1 Hurricane, but do not under any circumstances have 2.  Well I love a challenge so guess what?  Yeah I had more than 1.  How many? Hmmm, well I honestly can’t remember and there is more about this trip but that will have to wait for another day.  Believe when I tell you that, that entire trip was an adventure worthy of at least it’s own blog post.

So we were wandering down Bourbon street after having imbibed quite a bit and a man stops us on the sidewalk and wants to make a wager with my colleague.

This Wayne LaPierre, err I mean street hustler says “I bet you I can tell you where you got your shoes” Now think about that question for a moment.  How would you take it?  Even if we had not been drunk we probably would have still fallen for it.  So my buddy is thinking there is no way in hell that this guy can tell me where I bought my shoes, so easy money right?

Wrong! He makes the bet and the guy gets a big Cheshire Cat grin on his face and says…. Drum Roll please….

“You got your right shoe on your right foot and you got your left shoe on your left foot”  Sigh

That my friends is the kind of sleight of hand and misdirection that the NRA and Wayne LaPierre are attempting, but he underestimates the intelligence of the American public.  We are not fooled that easily.

Thanks for reading.

Carpe Diem and Peace



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