While the radical left is clearly the biggest threat to gaming, they’re not the only ones who could have a potentially negative impact on it.
Last week, Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh released a video where he stated that video games are at least partially responsible for desensitizing children to violence.
“It’s not good for kids to spend an exorbitant amount of time-consuming graphically violent
content,” Walsh said. Sure, I feel like spending an exorbitant amount of time doing
any one thing is always going to be an issue. But then he continued on, and this is where I think he made a mistake.
Walsh said, “Even if the content is fictional and virtual and imaginary. It doesn’t mean it has no influence just because it’s fictional. Among other things, it can have the effect of desensitizing the mind and soul to violence.”
While I have a deep respect for Walsh, and I can completely understand where he’s coming from, he’s just wrong on this one. Now, granted, young children shouldn’t be playing uber-violent video games. Duh, a kindergartner shouldn’t be kicking demon ass in “Doom,” wait till they’re a bit older. But what Walsh is doing is taking an argument that has been made a thousand times before and repackaging it for the modern age: the idea that violent content, whether it’s books or TV shows or movies or now video games, causes people to become violent if they themselves contain violence.
Walsh certainly isn’t the first to make this argument. Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, the media revealed the shooter was a loner who spent most of his time alone in his basement playing video games, including some first-person shooters. But reportedly, his favorite game was “Dance Dance Revolution,” not exactly an orgy of violence. Still, the narrative started to spread that it was his obsession with violent video games that
drove him to kill. The same was true of the Parkland high school shooter in 2018, and the Aurora movie theater shooter in 2012, and even back to Columbine in 1999.
On the Columbine note, while the shooters were reportedly fans of violent video games like
“Doom” and “Quake” they were also interested in firearms, which the media immediately picked up on.
I don’t think we’re going to try and argue that an interest in real-life guns makes someone a
killer, but somehow an interest in fake violence does? On top of that, violent incidents like the mass shootings supposedly connected to video games are outliers in a society that is overall becoming less violent. FBI statistics show that since 1992, violent crime has been on the decline!
Side note, the Super Nintendo came out in 1991 and was widely considered to be the console that really launched home gaming in the West. One of the best-selling games on the Super Nintendo? “Mortal Kombat.” The game so violent, so terrible, and so disgusting that a litany of congressional hearings were held to discuss it, came out as crime was trending down.
On top of data that shows a general downturn in violence, studies that deliberately address this topic show there’s no connection between violent video games and violent behavior either.
A 2019 study by Christopher Ferguson from Stetson University and C.K. John Wang from Nanyang Technological University found “no long-term predictive relationship between aggressive video games and future aggression in youth.”
Fun fact, a similar study was done in 2015 that showed no connection between games with
allegedly sexist content and real-life sexism. That’s an argument that’s existed since the dawn of time from the left, that sexist content in art creates sexist people. And that’s the crux here.
I have zero doubt that Walsh means well, and he wants to see a reduction in violence. I empathize with him — I really do. But playing into fear-mongering surrounding video games is not the answer. I’ve made this point before, but it’s not helpful to alienate a group of people like gamers who are sick and tired of the woke left in their spaces. Video games are a hugely popular hobby, and it makes zero sense to try and punish players for indulging in something that makes them happy and is proven not to increase violence.
Instead, we should counter these narratives, often coming from the left, by the way, that video games should be sanitized in order to stave off disaster. That’s what wokies do, claim that bad things in video games perpetuate real-world harm. PETA, for instance, keeps trying to argue that kids playing “Pokemon” are going to engage in animal abuse or dog fighting. I think we can all agree that’s nonsense. Kids can recognize that it’s not real and separate the fact from the fantasy.
So let’s extend that logic out to violence in video games. Give kids age-appropriate games for sure like I said, I wouldn’t play “Call of Duty” with my first grader. But let’s put to bed this idea that games like “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto” are causing horrific acts of violence because they’re not. It’s actively alienating a potential ally in the fight against the radical left, and it’s based on emotion and not truth. So, no, Matt Walsh, video games don’t cause violence.
Now with that said, who’s up for some “Mortal Kombat?”