It’s quite a strong title, isn’t it? The subject of whether a computer game can drive someone to murder is a contentious issue, one that can cause powerful statements to be released like the one above. Those on both sides of the argument will put forward their case with great commitment, especially those that have lost people as a result of shootings or stabbings that are said to mirror those in a computer game or a film. But I, for one, don’t believe a word of it.
For those that might disagree, I can completely understand. Grief can drive you to place blame where none may lie. It can cause you to look at the world with a scornful gaze and a fistful of contempt. But what you have to realize is that, in reality, guns, knives and computer games don’t kill. It’s the people using them that kill. They are the ones to blame. Everyone has a responsibility in society, but some people don’t take this on board.
In 2005, a 12-year-old Russian boy died as a result of a massive epileptic episode, whilst playing a 12-hour gaming marathon. It could be said that he should have taken a break from gaming on a regular basis – one every hour, at least. And he should have. Look in every accompanying gaming manual and you will see the recommended time that should be spent gaming or giving your eyes a rest from the constant flood of visual information. He didn’t develop epilepsy as a result of gaming, because that’s impossible. Epileptic attacks can only be induced by looking at a monitor or screen if you already have epilepsy. And even then it usually takes a serious amount of gaming to bring it on. Older computer monitors were really bad for it, because of the amount of flicker, but this is because of an already existing medical condition. Going out of your way to kill someone, however, is a different matter, because it’s murder, as I’m sure we all know.
Being human, we all display a range of differences. This can be skin color, religion, clothing, tradition, football teams, taste in food and what we like to do in our spare time. I, like most of you reading this, enjoy gaming, but I don’t receive some unusual appetite for murder or to go on a rampage with a chainsaw. I simply go online to play, win or lose.
But, of course, there are those that go on to kill. They seem to draw some inspiration from whatever game they were playing beforehand, and that’s the keyword here, inspiration. Just as Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, Harold Shipman and Fred West drew their inspiration from previous events in their lives, so do the people who utilize computer games, books, comics and films before they go outside with a gun. Jack the Ripper never had Doom, Grand Theft Auto or even Tetris, but he still went out in the streets of London with the intention of killing.
The same goes for Ted Bundy, but will we blame Doom for his actions? Of course not, his sociopathic nature stems from his childhood and his maternal grandfather: Samuel Cowell.
Using something like a video game is simply a means to an end. I spent nine years in the British Army and used a variety of weapons, all of them designed for maximum lethality. But not once, after playing Quake, did I suddenly think “I fancy a spot of killing to pass the time.” You already have to be a sociopath to kill, to take someone’s life. Games don’t turn you into a killer, they just provide you with options that you may have previously read in a book or seen on the television.
For those that still disagree, let me put it to you this way. A huge majority of soldiers, who are trained to kill and experience combat in places like Afghanistan, often play computer games. So if computer games turn you into a murderer then why do any of them come back with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder? They should all be mindless killers, shouldn’t they?
Food for thought.