Editorial: Video games an easy target

WARWICK RASMUSSEN
Last updated 12:00 14/01/2013

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OPINION: Trying to blame violent video games for violent crime is so fraught with inconsistencies it probably isn't worth the time.

That may seem dismissive of a serious topic, but there are so many variables, any research would be riddled with all kinds of exclusions and disclaimers.

If someone committed a violent crime and had played a violent game, is the game to blame, the amount of time the person played or some other factor?

In the United States, Vice-President Joe Biden has been charged with looking into violent gun crime, after the sickening massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.

It aims to be a comprehensive look at gun ownership, purchasing and the laws surrounding both. There would also be wider scope and commentary about violence.

Reality, though, may likely turn up much different results.

Any report or review, whether intended or not, acts as a stalling tactic. They serve as a way of shutting an argument down.

If critics dare to ask what is being done about an issue, all a government has to do is point towards the report/review.

The Biden review, by highlighting the role of video games, is already pencilling in an easy scapegoat.

The large, amorphous video game industry, which is worth billions of dollars to the US economy each year, is almost a sitting duck when it comes to targets.

For those outside gaming culture, it can often be viewed as something outside normal behaviour. The vision of sleep-deprived young men playing games alone is a popular one, but such people are only a small part of the gaming community.

All walks of life play games and suggesting that the games with violence in them make some people snap and commit horrible crimes may be true, but only for a minute group. The same could be said for any other activity, from hunting to contact sport.

The real issues for the US remain the same when it comes to gun crimes.

They are the sheer number of weapons in the country, the ease with which they can be bought and how powerful the weapons can be.

Until those matters are addressed, issues like video games should not be a priority.

One more thing: If the traffic along State Highway 1 yesterday was any indication, pretty much everyone is back from their holidays now. Most people would have done some travelling along our network of roads in the past few weeks, and if you and your family have made it home safely, take a moment to think of all the people who haven't been so lucky on our roads.

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- Manawatu Standard

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