Recently Glenn Beck spoke out against violent video games. His assessment? The Santa Barbara shooter displayed violence because he played violent video games. Here’s the problem. Even as Beck was making this argument, his proof pointed fully and completely back to this individual’s issues.
Elliot Rodgers was insane, possibly even evil personified. He harbored hatred for everyone and sheltered himself in the virtual worlds of video games. His history of mental health issues is long standing. Reports are that his family begged police to go check on Elliot when they saw the scary YouTube videos he was posting just prior to his rampage. The police DID go to his apartment. They DID talk to him. However, the law is the law and they found no reason (at that time) to detain him.
Rodgers even said in his sick and twisted manifesto that he was scared the police would find his weapons and ruin everything. Not having a search warrant prevented the police from finding those weapons.
Back to the point here; Glenn Beck appears to think the crux of Rodgers’ insane rampage was the video games. Nothing could be further from the truth. Did playing those games exacerbate Rodgers’ mental issues? Probably. Did they CAUSE those issues? No. I have listed several articles about the correlation of violence in games and real life. Bottom line is, they can find no solid proof one way or the other to say there is, or is not, a link. More research will be done, but I suspect what they will find is people who are otherwise mentally stable and have happy home lives show no negative impact from these games. Those people who already have mental issues have those issues magnified through playing violent games, regardless of their home life. Those people who have a terrible home life may actually benefit from the escapism these games offer.
My son plays many different video games. Some are more violent than others. The only time I have ever seen an outburst of aggression/frustration is when my son has trouble with a particular level and keeps dying. At that point, I make him turn off the game and go cool down before resuming. It usually only takes a few minutes for him to regain his composure, start again and beat the difficult level.
Many studies show this to be the case. Aggression increases not because of the violence, but because of the frustration in playing poorly. Once the player gets past the difficulty, they calm down and enjoy the game again. In other words, even Tetris can raise aggressive tendencies if the right pieces don’t fall.
Basically, if violent video games make you violent, then flight simulators should make me an amazing pilot, Sims should make me an great city planner and Pac Man should make me the best ghost hunter out there! I play Plants vs Zombies a lot. I can neither keep plants alive in real life, nor feel I would be of use against zombies, especially ones that leap over me and attack from behind!
Glenn, I really do like you. We see eye to eye on many things. However, on this issue you’re wrong. Dead wrong. And to say my son should stop playing video games because one evil nut job played video games, then decided to kill people, makes you no better than the gun grabbers who want to stop law abiding gun owners from owning guns because this lunatic did what he did. That’s a harsh truth, but it IS the truth.