I typically keep politics out of Game Infinite news, articles, and community. There usually is little overlap between the two topics other than the occasional bill or or law that affects gaming anyways. I find this approach beneficial because gaming is a diverse community. Followers of Game Infinite and GiFriends members are all diverse with various political beliefs. We have liberals, conservatives, and members of entire other countries counted among our followers and community members, because ALL are welcome. We are united by our love of gaming.
However, when politics decides to declare war on gaming, we can’t be silent. The hashtag #VideoGamesAreNotToBlame has been trending on twitter for days, politicians are making negative comments on gaming, and even major companies are making massive changes to their stance on gaming in an irrational sensational reaction to tragedy.
Not naming names, but regardless of which side of the fence several prominent political members are, this discussion is NOT a political issue. This is about defending a way of life and entire industry from blame on something that it is innocent of. This is a gaming page so odds are if you are reading this you play video games. This isn’t a political matter, it is a gamer matter. Red. Blue. Doesn’t matter. We are gamers.
I am not unique in this, major gaming industry names like IGN, GameSpot, and the Angry Joe Show have already made reactions defending gaming.
If you are unaware, last weekend, two deadly shootings occurred in the US, one in El Paso Texas, another in Dayton Ohio. I want to start off with a simple acknowledgement that these tragedies are sad, awful, and unacceptable. My heart goes out to the families of the victims and my prayers go to these communities. I can't imagine what they are going through or what that would be like. I don't want to trivialize what they are going through, but we still need to keep our heads and make sure we don't blame the wrong thing. The wrong cause never helps find the right solution. These tragedies do need to be prevented.
I am not here to explain why these tragedies happen nor to try to offer a simple solution as how to prevent them. Gun violence is one of those hot topic issues that can destroy friendships, make workplace break rooms toxic, and be too emotional to discuss peacefully. I am not here to try to explain why mass shootings occur so frequently in US more than other countries, or say systematically how we can stop them. I’m not here to talk about mental health, school bullying problems, medical care in the US, or even gun control. I’m just a video game blogger, here to defend gaming.
Here are four simple reasons #VideoGamesAreNotToBlame
1. Mass Shootings are largely a problem in the US, video games are prominent everywhere.
Mass Shootings are a problem certainly, and yes they do happen in other countries. However there is just a vastly and statistically disproportionate amount of them happen here. A simple scientific and objective look at the world would easily conclude that there is something unique about America that is causing gun violence to be more so than other countries. Whatever that factor or factors are it just can't be video games. Whatever your opinion on that factor may be, and certainly many people have opinions, we all should be able to agree it isn't video games.
When you compare America to other countries with directly comparable cultures and languages like the UK and Australia and find similar spending on gaming per capita and no gun violence this correlation just does not hold up. There are huge major countries where the average time and money spent on video games is even higher than the US, like Japan which feature almost no mass shootings.
If you can find examples of large countries with millions of gamers spending more time and money on gaming and virtually no examples of mass shootings you can definitively prove that theory has no basis in fact.
2. Videogames are already one of the most censored and heavily regulated
forms of media compared to movies, music, and especially TV.
Even if you take the long long leap of saying that somehow Americans are uniquely affected by violent media compared to every other major country in the world, it would still be extremely unfair to blame video games. The fact of the matter is that video games are already the most censored and regulated media out there. Literally three months ago, every single co-worker and bystander across America could not be bumped into without overhearing someone talking about Game of Thrones. Now don’t get me wrong, I love that show. It is incredible and detailed but it is also the most violent show I have ever watched. We live in the internet age where the most popular tv shows are primarily watched via the unfettered internet instead of aired on TV. Game of Thrones is a cultural phenomenon that everyone and their cousin watched. It also features beheadings, rape, full frontal nudity, incest, stabbings, torture, mutilations, plain ole sex and everything else you can think of. Please find me a video game (even better if seemingly everyone has played it) that has rape, full pornographic nudity, and the ability to dismember people. I'll wait. I can even dirtily mention months ago that a game that included something as awful as rape was forbidden on Steam. I have never played a single video game in my entire gamer life that is 10% as violent as Game of Thrones.
Just recently, an amazing new show on Amazon that all my friends and I are watching called “The Boys” is essentially Game of Thrones with Superheroes. The first episode watches a Flash-like speedster run through a woman essentially vaporizing her and her blood all over her boyfriend. Do I need to continue? I am sure I could write an entire article listing examples of how tv is 10x more violent than video games. Even if Americans are somehow "more susceptible" to violent media something that can't be shown to be true, video games are far from the worst offenders.
Movies and TV shows are getting more and more violent and filled with things that I have never once seen in a video game, which brings me directly to my next point.
3. Actually, Videogames aren’t really that violent.
Minecraft. Fortnite. Candy Crush. Clash of Clans. Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Apex Legends. Overwatch.
Do violent video games exist? Of course, but compared to the size and scope of the industry they seem to be small. Gory bloody games just aren't THAT common. Some of the biggest largest names in gaming have virtually no violence in them at all. Gaming is not a hobby it is a huge multi-billion dollar industry. Widespread appeal, appeal to children and parents, are all things that are in the interest of game developers. Do you think most game developers sit around and think of how gruesome and disgusting they can possibly make the game? Maybe some do but largely most want to attract as big an audience as possible. The biggest game of 2019 so far Apex Legends and a personal favorite, is a shooter yes but with a cartoonish art style and features no blood, no decapitations, and when players die there no bodies lying on the ground, just a loot box in their place. The biggest game 2018? FORTINITE That’s right that cartoonish wall building game your 7 year old nephew and every other person played. 2017? Oh that's right, Breath of the Wild, a beautiful artistic cartoonish game on a family friendly console. 2016? Overwatch, also cartoon with no blood and no decaptiations. These big games are simply not that violent, even many that use "shooting" as a mechanic. For every gory, bloody, horror shooter out there I guarantee you can find 10 other games more popular and non violent. That is just good business. Even the ones labeled as "violent" again, they just pale in comparison to violence you can watch on HBO.
4. Less than 0.0000001 of gamers have committed a mass shooting this year in the US.
Where did I get that ridiculous number? Well all the statistics I could find estimate that there are approximately 2,200,000,000 people in the world that could be labeled as “gamers”, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that number was conservative. Also there have been an estimated 248 mass shootings in the US alone. Now I am going to give those 248 incidents a 100% correlation to gamers, something that we know to be untruee. Even if every single mass shooter this year also happened to play video games (they didn’t) they would account for less than 0.0000001 of gamers. That is such a shockingly low statistic it becomes unscientific to use. It is so low that the degree of error from such a low pool of data is virtually useless data to make a conclusion of causation. There is no medical prodecure or medicine that is held to a .0000001 possibility of a symptom. That would be like testing a 100,000 people on a drug and one person happened to get sick. Put that in perspective, according to the Fedral Drug Administration's website, "phase three trials" of a drug are tested on only 1-3 thousand people before release to the public. 1 in 100,000 means they could do phase 3 trails 100 times before finding a symptom. These are just numbers so small they fall within the degree of untestable error. Put culture, other countries, and everything else aside, the math is simple. Far too many people play video games without committing violent crimes that you just cant scientifically draw a correlation between the two.
If those four facts don’t do it for you, it may surprise you to know that many modern scientific studies show that video games have the opposite impact on society. They act as a stress relief. Much like sports, hunting, or other ‘hobbies” they can relax and ease tension. They can ease violent tendencies and help people vent their frustrations and anger in a controlled and harmless way. People get angry and have violent emotions, venting is a therapeutic and positive effect. I can’t tell you how much video games help me after a long day at work.
We know video games do not cause mass shootings, but why is this discussion so important. Won’t this just blow over and go away? Isn’t this just a knee jerk reaction that will settle down? Why should we as gamers care?
I just want to unite us on one simple fact. Besides the fact that I love video games, I think this one small unifier has important implications for two major reasons.
- If you blame the wrong underlying cause, you will never fix a problem.
- Video Games are more than a hobby, they are a massive industry that employs countless Americans. If sensationalism and finger pointing hurts the gaming industry this could negatively affect millions of Americans and our economy.
This is bigger than just gaming, aside from my early point that false blame does absolutely nothing towards fixing an acknowledged existing problem, this backlash could negatively affect the gaming industry.
EA, Activision, GameStop and some other massive names in gaming could all suffer financially from this, costing the jobs of thousands of American workers.
We have already seen early examples of major companies responding negatively to the press and political blame of video games. Earlier a report from IGN stated that Walmart has been removing signage and marketing for games they deemed “violent”, and there is unsubstantiated reports that Walmart is also halting sales of “violent” video games all together. We could just laugh it off but Walmart is the biggest retailer in the US; they wield a measurable impact on game sales.
Also ABC and ESPN have postponed airing a major Apex Legends Esports event citing specifically recent blame of video games on gun violence . Apex Legends is one of the largest video games of 2019 and its success and popularity can directly affect one of the largest video game publishers in the US. EA has had multiple failed games and Apex Legends is the only things labeled as a success for EA in recent memory outside some sports games. If Apex Legends fails, EA could see massive layoffs.
We are two months away from the launch of one of the largest names in gaming Call of Duty. What if all this hysteria and sensationalism actually manages to hurt the sales of Call of Duty Modern Warfare? Activision employs almost 10,000 people and Call of Duty, a gritty military sim, is their biggest asset. Last year Activision’s struggles cost the jobs of 800 Americans. If this political and media climate affects sales of Modern Warfare is could cost more jobs at Activision.
Another major gaming company that is struggling significantly is GameStop. I recently wrote an article talking about GameStop’s woes, and any political actions against video game sales or hurting Modern Warfare sales could all be factors in the final nail in the coffin for GameStop. I predicted in that article that without drastic major changes GameStop could be out of business before 2021. The last thing those 50,000+ American workers need is to be kicked when they are down.
You see this is more than just a topic of gun violence. The gaming industry employs millions of American workers and you can’t just blame an entire industry for a tragedy and expect it to have zero consequences. This industry is a scapegoat that just can't be afforded. Sales are directly affected by marketing and public opinion.
I implore you to stand up against this ridiculous rhetoric and defend an industry that is important to this country. Gaming is more than that even. Gaming is home to some of the biggest communities in our country. It is something that I love for more than just its entertainment and stories, but also for the amazing incredible people I have met because of it. Game Infinite frequently streams on Twitch a platform that has raised over $30 Million for charity and has over 15 Million Daily users. We use Discord one of the biggest apps for gaming community for our GiFriends member program. Discord has over 250 Million active users. Gaming is more than just an entertainment, it is more than just a stress relief. It is a community with friendly supportive people who bond and make friends over this medium. I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for gaming I would probably have never met many of my current friends. Sharing stories, working together online, chatting in apps or in game, all bring us together. When I see a total stranger on the street wearing an N7 Hoodie or an Overwatch t-shirt we instantly have something in common and can start talking.
I am not hear to say gun violence is a simple issue with a simple solution, but all I can say for certain is that #VideoGamesAreNotToBlame