When tragedy happens, it is natural for us to try to find a scapegoat to lay the blame on. It is popular for the democrats as well as left-leaning celebrities to make the emotional appeals for gun control right after a school shooting. Usually, right-leaning people make fun and/or are annoyed by this type of behavior. However, it seems that when it comes to video games, you will find the same type of argumentation used by right-wingers.
On the left you might see arguments that video games are sexist[i], racist and spend too much time glorifying the female body.[ii] While on the right, you will get the “think of the children” argument. Thinking that video games are the reason people go and shoot up places is just as ridiculous as when they tried to blame Marilyn Manson or Eminem for violent behavior of kids.
If my fellow Christians can remember or recall reading about how some Christians treated dungeons and dragons in the 1980’s, you will see this is a cycle and has been for a while. The arguments against DnD were very bad. The same type of arguments you will get against Harry Potter today. Fast Forward to the 2000’s we have conservatives at it again. Specifically, Glenn Beck’s self-righteous rant, in which he lectures gamers about how Grand Theft Auto teaches us to not respect women and to be thugs. Not to mention the absurd comparison that video games train people to kill the same way the military is trained to kill.[iii]
Then we have Mr. Matt Walsh, a popular political commentator and someone I follow on social media, post a horrendous article on the Daily Wire. I hope Ben Shapiro didn’t personally approve of this, not because it disagrees with me, but because even for someone against video games the article was not well argued. I’ll point out a couple of flaws from my point of view. I still think we can learn from Matt, but he dropped the ball on this one.
He starts by accusing video gamers of attacking a strawman (where he provides no proof of anyone attacking the strawman but I’m sure they exist somewhere) and he cites a study “proving” that video games can lead to aggression. This is a bit disingenuous in my opinion. That’s certainly not my position and not one I’ve seen. It seems as if Matt is arguing that people say there is nothing wrong with video games, I don’t think any serious person would say that.
So, is it true that video games can cause someone to be more aggressive? Yes.[iv] [v] The key word is “can.” Researchers haven’t found a direct causal link between video games and aggressive behavior. In fact, we are seeing the opposite.
Total US sales of video game hardware and software increased 204% from 1994 to 2014, reaching $13.1 billion in 2014, while violent crimes decreased 37% and murders by juveniles acting alone fell 76% in that same period.[vi]
Now, even though Matt doesn’t put non-violent video games into the same category as violent video games, he still deems it a waste of time to spend even 2-3 hours a day wasting your mind away in a virtual reality. I’m sure you’re the life of the party, Matt.
Spending hours in a virtual reality? You mean like, reading books? Now, I realize books and video games aren’t the same, but surely, you’ve read a fiction book, haven’t you? Was that a waste of time? Video games aren’t all about killing or pointless things to do to waste the time away. Some video games do have moral lessons. I’ll give you a personal example.
In Knights of the Old Republic 2, Darth Traya reprimands you for indiscriminately giving money to a beggar. The reason for this is because you did it so openly, you made him a target and the other beggars take his money from him. You increased the suffering of someone just because you wanted to help. This tells us that our desire to good isn’t always going to give a good result. Life isn’t all happy endings. This wasn’t a waste of time, I still remember it to this day. [vii]
Matt then argues that playing violent video games makes you an inherently worse person than someone who doesn’t.
Everything we do either makes us better or worse. Hours a day pretending to kill people in virtual reality must logically fall into the “worse” category.
Matt must be catching up on his Bob Ross[viii] reruns with that broad stroke.
Matt, who shows no knowledge of video games is fine with telling you your hobby that you like to do is a waste of time and you’re a worse person for doing it. Video games seem to promote friendships[ix] and social interaction in people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in doing much of it or just don’t get it. So, to call it a waste of time is again, a generalization and an opinion, not a fact.
Video games also can promote critical thinking[x] and increase your motor skills.[xi] Video games have their pros and cons, but there are not enough cons to go get the tallest ladder from Home Depot to mount on your high horse.