Video game violence has always been a hot topic, but the recent shootings have sparked some debate that could affect the future of gamers. Violent games are being blamed for issues like the recent shootings, school bullying, and even childhood obesity.
In correlation with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., new laws are being proposed to add a sales tax on video games that are rated “teen,” “mature,” and “adult-only.” In Jordan Shapiro’s article, “State lawmaker wants tax on violent video games” he states, “Republican Diane Franklin of Camdenton, Missouri said the proposed 1 percent sales tax would help pay for mental health programs and law enforcement aimed at preventing mass shootings.” According to the article, Missouri is not the first state to propose taxes on violent video games. Oklahoma and New Mexico have both tried and failed. If laws like this were to pass, consumers would also be paying taxes on video games like “Guitar Hero.” What would be next? Would we be taxed according to the movies we watch and the music we listen to?
Video games, violent or not, can actually help gamers tap into bottled emotions, understand the limits of reality, and deal with that reality. Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence by Gerard Jones discusses how violent entertainment is beneficial in helping children develop in a healthy way. Violence doesn’t just appear in video games, it can be seen in comic books, television shows, movies, music, and in the news. So people are exposed to it everywhere and sheltering them from such violence can do more harm than good. Few people that pick up a controller have the desire to go out and kill people. They are able to distinguish the difference between the fantasy world in video games and reality.
Our nation’s security doesn’t depend on what is happening in video games. Even the Army uses video games and simulated rifles, at the Army Experience Center, to get potential recruits in the door. The Army wouldn’t use this form of recruitment if they thought it was dangerous and could potentially harm society. Those who walk in aren’t pressured to join the military, it’s just a way to attract new visitors, interact with Army personnel, and answer any questions that the visitors might have. “The military understands that if it can’t embrace today’s digital youth, they are never going to recruit the kind of soldiers that they need to have for the next century,” says Noah Shachtman in “Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier.”
Video games are blamed for many problems in the world, when they actually help people develop and live normal, healthy lives. Instead maybe critics should focus on other problems that could cause people to act out, like abuse or neglect at home, mental illnesses, etc.