Violent actions occur everyday, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself why? Diane Franklin of Camdenton, Missouri thinks she has the answer, video games. According to NBC News, she has proposed to add a one percent sales tax on video games that are rated “teen,” “mature,” and “adult-only” to fund mental health programs and law enforcement aimed at preventing mass shootings like the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Missouri is not the first state to propose taxes on violent video games. Oklahoma and New Mexico have both tried and failed.
Those opposed to the violence portrayed in certain video games, argue that it influences a person’s actions outside of the game. What those people fail to think about is that children are growing up in a virtual era. They are able to distinguish the difference between virtual and reality; they do it all the time. Animation, digital effects, technology, and the Internet have opened peoples’ minds and imaginations, bringing them to a world outside of their own. Some of those depictions sometimes display violent acts, which can engage or thrill the audience. Video games however, do not make people violent. Few people that pick up a controller have the desire to go out and actually kill people. Just because they see or play a violent game does not mean they will act out in real life. Players know the difference between their actions as a player in a game and how they should act in real life.
The problems in society are not caused by video games or the violence portrayed in them. 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.
If critics would take a look around they would see that violence can be seen just about everywhere, from books, movies, music and video games to the news, schools, in public and even at home. There is no way to shelter people from such violence, but there is room to teach them about it. Parents, schools, communities, and the government need to take an active role in the lives of children, teens, and young adults. Critics should focus on the underlying sources that could cause people to act out, like abuse or neglect at home, mental illnesses, etc. and find resources to help those who are suffering. Video games have become a target of opportunity for legislators and adults, but it’s time they look beyond to find the real problems and solutions to serious national issues.