Recently, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione argued that “Knife crime is soaring among youngsters because brutal video games that reward players for murder, rape and theft have made violence seem acceptable.”
This opinion of Mr. Scipione’s, coupled with calls to ban such games, is problematic for several reasons.
Firstly, there is no evidence that Mr. Scipione (who has no experience in such matters) is correct. None. If anything, the massive declines in violent crime around the world since the emergence of realistic violent games suggests that, at minimum, games haven’t caused more crime. And if anything, the opposite may be true – a study by the Progress and Freedom Foundation showed that video game consumption possibly contributed to less crime, and other studies have found that by taking kids off the streets and putting them in front of a computer, it reduces their opportunities to commit crimes.
More importantly though, calls to ban video games represent another attack on law-abiding Australians who enjoy playing video games (the average age of whom, it must be noted, is well over 30), and the call to restrict games is simply a cop-out knee-jerk reaction by people unwilling to address the fundamental problems that that lead to violence.
Brad Emery had a great piece on this last week in The Punch which is well worth a read in full. Some extracts:
Here we go again; video games blamed for creating a generation of murderers and rapists. It seems that whenever authorities and academics have no idea how to handle increasing violence in society they pull out the dog-eared script from their top draw, call up the media, and run the same old lines that video games are to blame for murder, robbery, assault, bad manners, climate change, Lara Bingle and the failure of our Olympic swimming team to win gold…
The simple fact is that violent people perpetrate violence. These young criminals generally commit these random violent crimes because they are predisposed to it; inflicting pain on other people provides them with whatever it is they need – pleasure; self-worth; social acceptance from their peers.
Blaming video games as a significant factor in somebody thrusting a blade into another person’s flesh is at best a weak attempt to analyse the catalysts for teen violence and at worst a cynical media strategy designed to deflect attention from some of the recent mishandling of youth crime….
No form of media should void an individual’s responsibility for their actions. We look to the leadership of our State police to enforce the law effectively for the protection of ordinary citizens; not regurgitate tired old accusations in order to snag a couple of headlines.