Saturday, October 26, 2013

GENERAL: How Correlation =/= Causation (Among Other Things)

This article isn't going to be cheerful, upbeat, and humorous like my others. I'm writing it because rather recently, the insurmountably broad topic of "video game violence" came up in an everyday discussion. I get very passionate to the point of inflammation whenever I discuss this topic. I'm going to keep it very, very short, and I'm trying to be as concise as possible. If you don't agree with my viewpoints, I respect your opinion however I do not endorse it. I'm not citing any sources because I'm using solely knowledge I have up in my head for this. This is an extremely generalized overview.

Whenever there's any tragedy, people tend to point fingers at 3 things: guns, mental illness, and video games/media. While all 3 play roles, their individual impact is very debatable. While video games may be a motivating factor, they can not be a motivating factor without other, more important, issues.

Let's say, for instance, GTA V, the most recent in the controversial line of Grand Theft Auto games. There have already be/en (real life) crimes placing this game as the motivation, or so I've heard. What I do know, is that that game made around 1 billion dollars within the first 3 days of release. That means roughly 16 million copies were sold in 3 days. That means at least 16 million people have played the game, and I have played a friend's copy, so we know at least 16 million and 1 people have played the game. For this sake, let's assume 25 million have played it.

Now, let's assume 5 real life incidents of crime have been blamed on this game. Heck, let's bump that number up to 25. Let's make that 25 real life murders, all committed by people who have played GTA V. While that's a very high estimate, it's for the purpose of demonstrating my point.

Basically, if actual people believe that 25 people (in this case) represent the 25 million who have played the game, I'm considering planetary relocation.

1 out of 1 million does not make the other 999,999 insane murderers.

Guess what? I've played GTA V. If you gave me a gun and told me to murder someone while pointing, yet another, gun at my head, I'm 95% confident I'd shoot myself, instead.

I'd also shoot myself if the majority of the population does indeed believe that 1 out of 1 million makes the other 999,999 insane murderers. The truly saddening factor is when people point fingers.

The world as a whole needs to look at all of the factors in cases like these. Sure, it's easy to point a finger at GTA or CoD or whatever game that particular individual person enjoyed the most, but there are other things involved.

Was that person scarred? Are they the type of person that would go out and kill someone for no reason? Were they mentally unstable? Did they have easy access to a firearm? Should they be allowed around firearms? Did they live in a broken home? Were they bullied at school?

All of these factors need to be taken into consideration. Stories like these should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The same is true when it comes to parenting. Should a 13-year-old be able to play GTA V? That depends. Are they mature enough? Do they have a history of violence? Do they know it's just a game? Do they have loaded firearms sitting around their house?

I'd let a mature, collected, well-natured, 13-year old boy play GTA V. I wouldn't let the same boy play if he had neglectful parents, liked to kill squirrels with a pellet gun for fun, and had actual firearms in his home.

However, I'm not pointing fingers at mental illness, or firearms.

People that are mentally ill should be put in an environment where they cannot harm themselves or others. For some, it's the nurturing arms of a parent, older sister, or community that cares.

For the unlucky few, it's the padded walls of a correctional facility. The problem therein lies in the nation's mental health system, I believe. I'm not discussing that here.

Same thing with firearms. They're tools; the majority of gun owners have never killed anyone, and merely use those guns for sport/hunting. There's nothing wrong with a gun.

When you put it in the hands of a person who can't handle the insane amounts of responsibility associated with owning a firearm, it's a problem.

Akin to placing a copy of GTA V in the hands of a copy of a mentally unstable, immature person that has access to firearms.

Parents, the label on the box lies. I know plenty of smart, well-to-do 13/14-year olds I'd let play GTA V.

I also know plenty of, not-so-well-to-do people older than 18, whom I wouldn't let play that game.

There's no golden rule to situations like these.

However, people who point the finger at video games during times of injustice, are far worse off mentally then the perpetrators of said crimes.

TO PARENTS: Make sure your child is ready, and can distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality.

TO EDUCATORS: No, video games are not wrong. They're a form of recreation. Make sure to inform parents about the dangers of letting kids play violent video games at too young an age, and remind them, it's their responsibility. Not Gamestop's.

TO THE MEDIA: Handle things on a case-by-case basis. Don't point fingers. And remember that last sentence. Take it to heart.

TO GAMERS: I know you feel victimized. I know how it feels to be part of "the problem. "I know how it feels to have people look at you and say "you're wrong as a person for playing Grand Theft Auto." And I know that deep down, the people who point fingers are nobodies that have nothing better to do than point their fingers and grasp at nothingness. That's what saddens me, that people so pathetic, so pathetic they can't comprehend basic logic or statistics, even exist. And if you do think, for whatever reason, that you are insane, please stop immediately. For the rest of you, mentally sane, successful, responsible individuals:

Game on, brothers.

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